Ancien Cycles closing Aug. 31

Metra Electric customers walk past the recently closed Ancien Café and Cycle store, 1558 E. 53rd St., and a sign warning that the sidewalk is closed ahead as they proceed to the 53rd Street Metra Station entrance on the north side of the 53rd Street Canadian National Railway viaduct, Tuesday, Aug. 21. The sidewalk is closed on the east side of the Metra Electric Station entrance because of construction of MacProperties’ mixed use building (retail with apartments above) at 5252 S. Cornell Ave. – Marc Monaghan

Staff Writer

Ancien Cycles, 1558 E. 53rd St., will close at the end of the month. The management blames the weather, saying this year’s late spring affected its bike repair business, and a loss in foot traffic to its cafe due to nearby construction.

The sidewalk directly connecting the business to East Hyde Park is closed to pedestrians while the 26-story Mac Properties development at 5252 S. Cornell Ave. is built.

Manager Tony Winters said Ancien Cycles had contacted Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) about installing a protected walkway under the Illinois Railroad (IR) viaduct and by the apartment building construction without success. He said one of Hairston’s staffers told him that too many trucks were going through the construction site and that it was too late to install a protected walkway after construction started.

“The traffic that I was getting from Cornell on back is no more, because they can’t get through,” Winters said. To get to Ancien Cycles from across the street at the southeastern corner of the 53rd and Lake Park intersection currently requires crossing the street three times.

Furthermore, Winters said customers who arrive from the Metra Electric station located above Ancien Cycles have stopped coming, as commuters now predominantly use the station’s Hyde Park Boulevard entrance or the 55th–56th–57th St. station.

Winters said he spoke to the construction foreman or supervisor about the issue.

“I just feel like it could have been done differently,” Winters said. “I’ve seen business, when they have construction going up, how they make up that ground. That makes a big difference.”

Mac Properties Director Peter Cassel said that the developer had conversations with Hairston’s office and the Chicago Department of Transportation, which mandated the closure of the sidewalk.

“Between the Alderman and the City, it was determined that this was the best situation for the construction period and that, until we can open up the sidewalk, the current condition will persist,” said Cassel, who said 5252 S. Cornell Ave. is set up be completed by next summer.

The inventory at Ancien Cycles, which has been open for three years, is being liquidated.