CHICAGO (CBS) – The old Albany Park District police station is set to be transformed into a Thai community center next year.

The building at 4461 N. Pulaski Rd. was built as a police station in 1938, but was vacated in 2005 when the district headquarters moved into a new building two blocks north and across the street, with four times as much space.

The current building has been vacant ever since. But Chicago chef Arun Sampanthavivat has announced lofty plans for the space. Under plans submitted to the City of Chicago last year, the Thai Town Center would be composed of a 3,435 square-foot restaurant, a 1,126 square-foot Thai Spa and Wellness Center, and a 655 square-foot space for the Thai-American Association.

Sampanthavivat, who now operates the upscale Arun’s Thai restaurant at 4156 N. Kedzie Ave., will operate the new Thai tapas-style restaurant. The Web site for the Thai Town Center says developers home “attract diners and tourists from throughout the region and beyond.”

Chicago Magazine reports that plans for the restaurant call for 175 to 200 seats, and a market selling ready-to-eat meals and packaged spices and sauces.

The spa will be “designed to fit our local market needs, while remaining in line with the elegance of the spas in Thailand,” according to ThaiChicagoUSA.

The rest of the building will provide a permanent home for the Thai-American Association of Illinois that “can help draw the Thai community as well as their friends to support the business,” according to ThaiChicagoUSA.

The 2009 report by the City of Chicago indicates that the building was sold for $780,000, along with the assistance of about $1.5 million in Tax Increment Financing district funds.

Chicago Magazine reports the Thai T0wn Center hopes for a late summer or early fall 2011 opening.

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