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Kicked Out, Shut Down: Arcade Building Closes

Andrew DeSantis | The PHOENIX
This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Sold Off, Kicked Out.

Though it was nearing midnight, two people still remained in the nearly-emptied Woodruff Arcade taping up cardboard boxes crammed with books.

Phil Bujnowski and his daughter Julie O’Brochta had been cleaning out the Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore — a store in the corner building at North Broadway Avenue and Sheridan Road — for more than a week. As of Nov. 29, they still had thousands of books left to tackle in storage.

The Woodruff Arcade Building was sold to Algonquin Venture Real Estate, LLC, last year, The PHOENIX reported.

All tenants occupying the Arcade were given a final move out deadline of Nov. 30, according to Bujnowski, the owner of the Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore. But when the announcement of the building’s closing came last December, businesses expected at least a full year.

“We could leave anytime [in that year] if we gave a month’s notice,” Bujnowski, 69, said. “[Tenants] would be given a rent break for accommodation.”

The move out date was moved up after the developer provided tenants two months of free rent, Bujnowski said.

Construction that will completely demolish the Woodruff Arcade Building will begin after December, with a new development called The Arcade replacing it. The new structure will turn into a mixed-use development, according to the commercial real estate brokerage firm Edgemark — meaning it will include 58 residential units alongside a strip of first-floor retail. The building is expected to be seven stories and have around 9,000 square feet of ground floor commercial area, according to Edgemark’s online portfolio of The Arcade.

The Arcade will retain the Bank of America, which has an extended lease, according to Dan Luna, chief of staff for the 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman. The area paralleling North Broadway is slated to contain an unidentified restaurant, Luna said, while the Sheridan area will contain 4,000 square feet of commercial space with no businesses yet designated.

The Woodruff Arcade Building (6361 N. Broadway Ave.), is the last of its kind in Chicago — first opening in 1923, it’s been named a community historic site by the Edgewater Historical Society, a group that tracks, documents and pushes for preservation of sites deemed historic.

The development is expected to incorporate aspects of the preceding Woodruff Arcade Building into the design, according to Luna.

“The [alderman’s] office has been heavily encouraging incorporation of the historic building [into The Arcade], whether that means referencing its name, having pictures of the old building put up, or in the building’s design itself — we don’t know exactly what it’ll look like yet,” Luna said. “[Incorporation] is something that the alderman has been strongly advocating for.”

Ground-floor retail and residential units in the the seven-story building are expected to open in fall 2018, according to Edgemark’s profile for The Arcade.

When in operation, the businesses located in the shopping arcade all fed into a two-level open atrium, with potted plants lining in the halls and light filling the space through skylights.

Some of the ground-floor businesses’ facades facing West Sheridan Road and North Broadway Avenue included Style Zone Hair Design, The Coffee Shop, a Bank of America ATM and Planned Parenthood — the only Planned Parenthood within an 8-mile radius, The PHOENIX reported.

Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control, emergency contraception and abortion referrals to customers, closed Sept. 26. It moved from the building to 5625 N. Broadway Ave. Sept. 26, according to Julie Lynn, manager of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

The family who owned The Coffee Shop — a snug space packed with mismatched furniture and a popular study nook for Loyola students — closed the cafe in May. The Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore closed to the public before Thanksgiving, following a closeout sale on all its merchandise. After the holiday, Bujnowski and his family began the process of moving all the merchandise out. On Nov. 29, Bujnowski’s wife and son-in-law helped box books all day to meet the Nov. 30 deadline. By late that evening, it was just Bujnowski and O’Brachta.

“There’s just so much stuff [in storage] to sort through,” O’Brachta said.

Bujnowski is donating all of the store’s merchandise. Salvation Army delivery trucks and movers arrived Nov. 30 to start moving out several hundred boxes piled into the bottom floor of the arcade’s atrium — the remainder of the inventory will be sold through online sites.

The bookstore opened in 1978 and would have reached its 40th anniversary in the building in 2018.

Bujnowski, who has plans to retire, said the Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore had a good run, albeit a bittersweet move out process.

“There have been a number of sweet, positive accolades along with [the process] this whole week,” Bujnowski said. “People have been dropping by because they know we’re closing. There was one guy who came in with a toast of sparkling apple cider.”

Algonquin Venture Real Estate, LLC, couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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