Apple Will Spend $4 Million To Erase Eye-Sore

October 24, 2009

Apple has signed an agreement with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to spend nearly $4 million to refurbish a run-down triangle of land next to its future Halsted Street retail store, including a subway entrance building, the underground train platform and a bus turnaround driveway. The project would be Apple’s most expansive spruce-up to date, and will help bring sparkle to the surrounding shopping district, which developers hope is on the rebound now that Apple is arriving. Structural steel has been erected for the store on Chicago’s north side, and the store could open by fall, 2010, being known as the “Lincoln Park” store.

In the past Apple has provided improvements to sidewalks in in front of their stores, and has agreed to heritage preservation of its buildings, mostly in Europe. At the Regent Street (London) store the company paid to restore an intricate tile mosaic on the storefront, while at the SoHo (NYC) store they retained the historic shell of a former U.S. Post Office. At the San Francisco store, Apple’s architects incorporated the subway entrance into the store footprint and enclosed it with glass and stone.

The future Chicago store is built on a triangular piece of land formed by three intersecting streets. The CTA’s Red Line train tracks run underground parallel to Clybourn Avenue at this point. The North/Clybourn station on the Red Line leads upward by stairs to a triangular, red-brick and dark granite building built in 1942. The building occupies the northwest section of the plot and houses fare gates for the CTA, and also a corner pizza parlor.

The Red Line “L” basically runs north-south through Chicago, including the downtown district, and is the transit system’s longest route.

Over the years, the CTA’s building has fallen behind on maintenance. The paint is peeling, the windows are filthy, an electrical sign has dangling wires, and metal framing is rusting. Inside the building and underground, the station features white tile walls and fluorescent lighting, with hallways leading to two narrow platforms underground.

In the agreement approved at an August 19th Chicago Transit Board meeting, in exchange for the improvements the CTA will lease the bus turnaround to Apple at no cost for 10 years, with options on four, five-year extensions. The CTA will also give Apple “first rights of refusal”  for naming the station and placing advertising within the station, if the CTA later decides to offer those rights.

According to Ordinance No. 009-92, Apple, “offered to pay the costs to refurbish the North/Clybourn Red Line station if it can landscape the adjacent bus turnaround.” The CTA will perform the actual refurbishment of the platform level and interior of the station, and Apple’s contractor will work on the building’s exterior.

“Apple will pay all costs of the exterior, interior, and platform refurbishment and desires that all work at these locations be completed not later than September 30, 2010,” the ordinance notes, hinting at the grand opening timeline.

As for money, Apple will pay for contruction work on the outside of the building, not to exceed $1,789,000. The company will also pay for the CTA’s design, construction management and actual construction costs, not to exceed $2,108,000. Apple’s total expense for the project could be as much as $3,897,000.

Download (pdf) the Board meeting agenda and the ordinance here.

View (pdf) the CTA route map, and read more about the history of the CTA station.

The future Apple store is in red.

On this map, plot #6 is the bus turnaround driveway, and #7 is occupied by the CTA station and a pizza parlor.

Looking east at the CTA building, with the future Apple store lot to the left.

The CTA building dates to 1942 and is marred by peeling paint, obscured windows and an old architecture.

This close-up of the entrance shows the poor maintenance of the building.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron October 24, 2009 at 2036

I am a huge Apple fan, but this seems like such a waste of money. 3.8 million could support 100,000 children through Compassion Ministries for a month.


Aaron October 24, 2009 at 2130

It’ll be interesting to see an Apple-designed subway station…


Todd October 24, 2009 at 2259

Ron, by your logic, no one should ever invest in anything, because all money should be consumed on immediate needs. Investment leads to growth in available resources. The stream of returns on that investment can then fund and endless series of worthy projects.


AdamC October 24, 2009 at 2301


Don’t get me wrong I am a huge supporter of feed the children.

After feeding them for 1 month then what?

Or provide steady employment for people who need jobs and mouths to feed.

I would prefer the latter.

Remember the saying give a fish a man you feed him for a day, teach him to fish you feed him for a life time, although the situation may be different but the idea is the same.


Brian Kaempen October 25, 2009 at 0009

This answers a very big question in my book about Apple and their tendency to be peculiar about surrounding appearances. Anyone remember the San Francisco store oopening and the building next door? They had the plywood front plastered with the then silhouette iPod ads, then someone (Apple?) tore the bulding down, and all this was after they Photoshopped out the structure in it’s online photos.

How will Apple makeover the CTA station and turnaround? Well for one, there’s a wall that’s about 2′ high surrounding the turnaround with a rusting and bland metal fence on top of it. It used to separate out foot traffic from the gas station, but now Apple probably wants that all opened up for more exposure. That wall and fence are sure to go and be replaced by small shrubs and ground cover, maybe even a park like atmosphere, but remember Apple doesn’t like trees to block their stores. At the Michigan Avenue store, they conducted all the construction around two large trees along Mich Ave, just to cut them down and replace them with trees with less sprawl and smaller leaves so the Apple window can be clearly seen.

As for the peeling paint, windows, and interior, I’m not real sure what could come of it. I’m guessing the small individual windows will be replaced by large(r), tall sheets of glass which will provide both a modern look and MUCH more natural light. I can’t see why Apple would want the CTA station to look like an Apple store, so don’t expect stainless steel. Probably just the needed sanding and fresh paint which will help to clean up the facility. This is also NOT a reconstruction, so elevators and other ADA accessibility is NOT coming, sorry to those folks. Maybe electronic doors, maybe some of those new LCDs for ads and facts that the CTA likes to be adding lately, maybe more security cameras especially the wake of the assault that occurred a month or so ago after leaving the station, those could all come, but expect the bus turnaround, including it’s frankensteined pavement to bear the brunt of the money.

This will be a nice “donation” to the CTA, City, and the neighborhood.



Marktrek October 25, 2009 at 0346

So how do you make a contribution to Compassion Ministries?


huxley October 25, 2009 at 0648

Lots of places to make donations. How about you just give some money to UNICEF? $50 will immunize hundreds of children against smallpox. Right now they are running some campaigns for education and physical activity but you can help with clean water, schooling, food, vaccinations, anti-malaria pills, you name it.

As for Apple, it won’t save the world, but its a sight better than the sort of sweetheart deals municipalities have tended to give big corporations in exchange for nothing better than the promise of jobs.


Mike Bentley October 25, 2009 at 2029

Parking an Apple store right there is going to hit that shopping area like a ton of bricks. Interesting.


Hovie October 25, 2009 at 2122

“marred by…an old architecture.” Nice. So is the Acropolis, The Sistine Chapel and The White House. [IFO — Well, “old” as far as Apple is concerned. I acknowledge the validity of old architecture in general.]

Good for Apple, good for Chicago, and I see Borders is getting ready too. Now that Apple has more cash on hand than Microsoft, this is chicken change. :)


DBX October 25, 2009 at 2200

This is a wonderful piece of news. This station is unique in the CTA system in terms of being a subway with an actual head-house above ground as opposed to just a flight of stairs leading underground. It’s somewhat reminiscent of stations of a similar era in London. But the CTA has done a dreadful job of maintaining it.

I figure the $4 million should do fairly nicely on renovating the head-house. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to do much about the underground portion of the station on that amount of money, however. To make the station fully ADA-compliant and bring it up to modern standards would probably be $30 million or so just for the construction, seeing as you’re replacing escalators and adding elevators the station has never had, not to mention tunnel liners, drainage works, new electricals, lighting, sound deadener, new platforms and staircases and so on. And with the CTA having, once again, missed the opportunity of having a vacant site to stage construction from (in this case, the lot Apple is going in on), tack on another $30 to $35 million in logistics for bringing heavy equipment in and out every day and storing it off-site.


Mario October 27, 2009 at 0857

For those who don’t live in Chicago, please don’t judge all CTA stations by this one. CTA has actually been spending quite a lot of money upgrading, and even rebuilding many stations in the system.

This situation seems like a good opportunity for CTA to partner with the private sector to get a needed upgrade made to what is becoming a very busy station. The Clybourn corridor is a busy shopping district but a lot of people tend to drive there. Cleaning up and refurbishing the L station would encourage a lot more people to take the Red Line there.

The store will be facing N. Halsted, however. So this station will actually be behind the store.


David Hupp October 27, 2009 at 1100

“The CTA building dates to 1942 and is marred by peeling paint, obscured windows and an old architecture.”

How does 1940s Streamline Moderne architecture constitute “marring” the subway station?

The North/Clybourn Station is architecturally and historically significant, and is most likely eligible for the National Historic Register.

The CTA has made a point of sympathetically restoring some of its older stations from the 1920s and earlier, but has not yet done the same with its stations from the 1940s and 1950s.


Brian Kaempen October 27, 2009 at 1119

@David, that quote and associated picture say everything about this station. It has a great design with an actually large airy interior and a unique side platform layout, but years of slapping paint on top of old already peeling paint hasn’t worked. The CTA has learned that recently, like a year or two ago when they repainted all the canopies north of Sheridan and even at the Madison Loop stop right now, they’re actually sanding the surfaces down. The architecture isn’t marring the station, and “old architecture” doesn’t mean bad. As I’ve said now numerous times, new windows, entirely fresh siding and paint leaving the brick and stone in place, and then just a general cleaning of the interior will be great for this unique station.



David Hupp October 27, 2009 at 1202

@Brian, I do hope that this is the case. The station really just needs some major cleaning and maintenance. I would hope that they would keep the same window mullion layout, though the station would look okay with large plate glass windows too.

The budget for the rehabilitation is only $4 million, which is pocketchange compared to the $67 million reconstruction of the Grand Red Line Station. At that small of a budget, they can’t really do anything drastic.


David Hupp October 27, 2009 at 1210

Crain’s say they won’t change the appearance of the station. [IFO – Well, perhaps the style or architecture won’t change, but the appearance certainly will. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine how Apple would spend $1 million just to make the building look like it originally did in 1942. For $1 million, they should end up with lots more.]


Chase T. October 27, 2009 at 1823

Hoping for a rebound for the area? The area has flagship locations for Borders, Crate and Barrel, and was one of the original locations for CB2! There are mainly mid/high-end shops is this area. There’s nothing really else to rebuild except of course the station and what will soon be the Apple store. The station itself is really cool, but needs refurbishment. They probably have been neglecting it because it is next red-line subway station in line to be remodeled. Most of the other stations in the system are much better looking.


Roland S October 29, 2009 at 0130

The Grand/State renovation involved tearing up the street to excavate a bigger station below. Along one of Chicago’s busiest streets, surrounded by highrises that must be held back, that can get expensive. North/Clybourn is just getting a facelift – new brick, windows, floors, signage, and paint. All of that is relatively inexpensive.


Roland S October 29, 2009 at 0132

Oh, and according to the agreement with the city, Apple will be replacing the doors and windows with new ones in, you guessed it, stainless steel. Of course, CTA’s been using stainless steel for years, so that’s nothing new. The turnstiles and ticket machines and such are already made of stainless.


Marc October 29, 2009 at 0703

There is a bus turnaround between the train station and the Apple store under construction. Perhaps, Apple will use this turnaround as a loading dock?

Someone should find out exactly what the lease with the CTA stipulates. That’s the real news of this story, and the fact that the CTA buried mention of this lease makes it [I]curiouser[/I] and [I]curiouser[/I]!


k e k October 10, 2010 at 0927

The CTA would never do it – so good for Apple. It hopefully will be a great little corner now with apple store and public transportation. This was needed. Can’t wait for opening.

And I won’t even tough the feeding the hungry comment – no relation to this. There are millions of ways to cut the top nations spending and feed the poor.


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