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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