Yoga, sustainability come to 53rd St.

By Sam Levine

The University has fully leased the former Borders building in the continuing development of 53rd Street, which has begun to earn praise for environmental sustainability.

CorePower Yoga, which has nine other locations in Chicago, will open in 2013 and rent 4,347 square feet of space in the former Borders building at 1539 East 53rd Street between South Lake Park and South Harper Avenues. CorePower offers a free week of yoga for new members, and reduced student memberships for $99 per month in Illinois, according to its Web site.

The studio will share the building with the music venue and restaurant Promontory and the fashion boutique Akira, which opened its 8,000 square foot flagship store on the ground floor on November 21.

The three new businesses are part of an effort by the University and developers to increase retail options along 53rd Street. The University purchased the Borders building in July 2011 and, according to a New York Times article published last month, has spent nearly $250 million on the project.

Harper Court, the 1.1 million square foot centerpiece of the 53rd Street development that will provide both retail and office space, is now 90.4 percent leased, the University reported last month. The sustainability of the development, which does not include the Borders building, also earned a gold LEED for Neighborhood Development rating from the U.S. Green Business Council earlier this month, making it the highest ranked project in its category in Illinois.

According to Christopher Dillion, managing director of Vermillion Development which is working on the project, Harper Court will encourage alternative means of transportation, providing a bike sharing program specifically for Harper Court retail and office employees. That program will complement the city’s public bike sharing program, set to launch next year.

Dillion said that in addition to bringing back the farmer’s market that used to be held in the area, the open space in the development will be available for concerts, art events, and other community activities. Residents who participated in workshops to shape the development of 53rd Street expressed a desire for sustainable buildings in a “walkable urban environment,” Dillion said.

“Part of the reason that we scored so highly [on the LEED rating] is that we’re already in the middle of a great urban neighborhood,” he said.