July 05, 2005

Press, 6/29: Athletic club reported sold for restaurant

Athletic club reported sold for restaurant
by Robert Elfinger
June 29, 2005

The Edens Athletic Club, 5130 N. Cicero Ave., is tentatively scheduled to close on Aug. 31, and the facility could be demolished soon after to make way for a Wendy's restaurant. Edens Athletic Club The Chicago-based Tennis Corporation of America, which owns the health club, reportedly has a contract to sell the property to Wendy's for $1.4 million. The contract is contingent on Wendy's obtaining a special-use for a drive-through facility, according to 45th Ward aldermanic aide Terry Boyke. The request for a special use is on the agenda for the July 15 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Edens is a full-service health club which has been open for more than 30 years. Its proximity to the Edens Expressway has made it popular with commuters who stop in after work to exercise and avoid rush hour traffic, and it also is popular with area residents.

Some neighborhood residents have begun a petition drive opposing the use of the property as a restaurant. The residents, who would prefer that another health club purchase the site, are particularly opposed to the proposed drive-through.

"In today's world what do we need more, another fast-food restaurant or a health club?" said Forest Glen resident Betty Ginden, who works at the club. "It's a shame. For a lot of the older residents, it's a sanctuary and the only place (in the neighborhood) where they can go to exercise."

Club manager Joe Gill is attempting to put together a group of investors, including club members, to buy the club and keep it open. "I want TCA to sell my group the club," Gill said. "If they're going to sell it to Wendy's, why not sell it to us?"

Gill said that he does not know how far along the sale is or if it could be stopped. "The membership wasn't aware the Wendy's was coming in," he said. "TCA didn't tell us."

Officials from Tennis Corporation of America and Wendy's did not return calls seeking comment.

Boyke said that Levar has met with Wendy's officials but that he has not formed an opinion on the proposal. "They have not submitted plans or traffic studies to the aldermen yet," he said.

Boyke said that drive-through permits are difficult to contest and are routinely granted by the zoning board. He said that Levar will at least ensure that there will be no access to restaurant parking lot from the alley.

Gill hopes that he can earn the support of the alderman and the community and pressure TCA to discuss selling the club to him and his investors. "As long as the wrecking ball doesn't go through it, we'll keep it running."

Source: Nadig Newspapers

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