Apple to improve Red Line station

By Patrick Smith

An agreement between the Chicago Transit Authority and Apple Inc. will bring nearly $4 million in improvements to the rundown North and Clybourn Red Line station, while giving the computer giant a chance to blanket the stop with Apple advertising and possibly rename it.

In the agreement, Apple pledged nearly $4 million for the renovation of the interior and exterior of the station. In exchange, the CTA will lease the driveway next to the station to Apple for 10 years at no cost. Apple will also have “first refusal” rights over all advertising in the station and any naming rights to the station, should the CTA choose to offer those rights, according to the ordinance authorizing the agreement.

The agreement goes before the city council’s housing committee on Nov. 4.

The first refusal agreement will last until April 2019, with four consecutive options to extend the agreement for five additional years. According to the ordinance, the agreement could potentially last 30 years should Apple and the CTA choose to keep extending it.

The station and driveway are next to a new Apple Store to be built at 801 W. North Ave. Padraic Swanton, a spokesman for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is excited that Apple is opening a store in the neighborhood.

Lincoln Park’s 43rd ward Alderman Vi Daley said that she was has been trying for 10 years to get money together to improve the North and Clybourn stop.

The driveway to be leased to Apple was a bus turnaround that is no longer used by the CTA. Apple plans to turn the driveway into a landscaped park.

The city of Chicago owns the turnaround, so the agreement cannot be finalized until the city agrees to lease it at no cost.

As long as the housing committee takes no issue with the ordinance, the City Council should vote on it Nov. 18. Daley said she doesn’t expect any delays.

“I’m assuming it will go through without any problem,” Daley said. “I can’t imagine what the problem could possibly be.”

While waiting for the Red Line, commuter Dennis Lord said he was pleased Apple would be paying for the station to be renovated. Lord described the North and Clybourn station as “kinda seedy.”

The small exterior of the station has peeling paint and noticeably dirty windows. Throughout the station, metal is rusted and paint is flaking off. At the platform level, the white walls are marred by partially removed graffiti and the ceiling is discolored and swelling from leaking water. But none of these blemishes distinguish North and Clybourn from some other underground train stations. One stop south, the Clark and Division station features the same signs of wear.

“I think the CTA needs all the help they can get,” Lord said. “[The station] could certainly use some upgrading.”