By LINDSAY WELBERS
Regents Park Apartments has requested a zoning change that would bring the building in line with modern zoning requirements and pave the way to admitting the public to the property’s gym and added building amenities.
“We’ve been working. We had a community meeting in October and have got a whole series of improvements we’ve been working on,” MAC Properties spokesman Peter Cassel said.
Antheus Capital, the financial arm of MAC Properties, purchased the building in 2011. When Antheus went to renew the license for the building’s gym, it discovered that no license had ever been applied for. Previous to his presidency Barack Obama would work out at Regents Park, 5050 S. Lake Shore Drive, and it was a popular workout destination for many other Hyde Parkers.
The gym was closed to the public, though it remains open to residents. Since that time Antheus has been seeking a zoning change from the building’s current but outdated RM6.5 to B3-5.
Cassel said he expects the zoning change to be approved by the full City Council in the spring. Construction will begin shortly thereafter and continue through 2015. Ultimately the gym will be open to the public again, Cassel said.
The gym is currently not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and work will be done to bring it up to code.
“One of the things [to fix] is the grill,” Cassel said. “A restaurant sits in the pool area. We’re going to separate those two things. Right now, the pool smells like french fries and the french fries smell like pool.”
The grill, currently located next to the building’s pool and fitness center in the northeast corner of the building, will be moved to the south side. Locker rooms will be built where the grill is now. The market will be moved to the southwest corner of the building to make room for the new restaurant.
The zoning change would also allow for an artists’ space, day care, outdoor dining area at ground level, short-term leases less than one month and a salon or barber — all things that have existed in the building over its lifetime, even if the zoning didn’t allow for it.