Friday, July 31, 2015

Yard Sale & Art and Music Fest Saturday in Sheridan Park

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The 22nd Annual Sheridan Park Yard Sale is tomorrow between 9am-4pm, and there are treasures a-plenty waiting for you. Here's a list of sellers and their locations from Kathy Cook, who does so much to make it happen each year. Rain date is Sunday.

Don't forget the Sunnyside Mall Art Fair takes place between 9am and 3pm at Magnolia and Sunnyside, too.  Click here for a list of artists and musicians who'll be appearing.

Positive Loitering Tonight, 7pm-8pm

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From Uptown Chicago Commission:

"Please join your neighbors tonight for an hour of Positive Loitering from 7-8 PM.  Our location this evening will be in front of 4613 N Broadway (across the street from the Broadway entrance of the Wilson Red Line stop). Stop by for a few minutes or stay for the full hour. Bring a friend, bring a new neighbor, stop by on a dog walk, just come out!

As always, the 19th District Police are aware of our presence and encourage participation.  See you tonight!"

Good News For Sprint Customers

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According to signs and permits on the door, Sprint is coming to Uptown. A Sprint store is being constructed at 1025 Sunnyside, on the Broadway side, across from Target. This will be the first Sprint store in the Uptown and Edgewater communities.

Saturday 9AM Deadline For Votes on Residential Permit Parking

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As you may remember, Ald. Cappleman is giving residents of the 46th Ward the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want zoned/permit parking in their immediate community.  If you live in the block club areas of Magnolia Malden Neighbors, Beacon Block Club, Graceland Wilson N.A., Argyle Winmore, Lakeside Neighbors, Clarendon Park N.A., Buena Park Neighbors, Dover Street Neighbors, Castlewood, Margate Park, or NUNA, there were meetings over the past five weeks to provide information and give you a chance to make up your mind about voting yea or nay.

Voting closes at 9am on Saturday, August 1st.  If you want to vote, here's the link.  Your name, address and phone number are required.

Some High Schools Serving Uptown To Have New School Hours This Year

CPS announced a cost-cutting move that involves new start times for some of its schools, primarily high schools, something to do with transportation costs being streamlined by staggered start times. None of the local elementary schools are affected, but some of the high schools that serve Uptown residents will have new hours:
  • Uplift, changing from 8:30am-3:45pm to new hours: 9am-4:15pm
  • Amundsen, changing from 7:45am-3pm to new hours: 9am-4:15pm
  • Lake View, changing from 8:15am-3:45pm to new hours: 9am-4:12pm
You can see all the schools with time changes here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Residential Development Proposed For West Belle Plaine

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Neighbors living near 931-933 West Belle Plaine recently received mailed notices that a zoning change is being proposed, one that will enable the conversion of an existing 40-space parking lot into a 20-unit four-story residential rental building with 21 parking spaces.  You can see the renderings here and the developer's application here.

According to the 46th Ward's website, the proposed zoning change was accepted at a June 1st Buena Park Neighbors meeting.  We've heard from several neighbors of the parking lot who just found out about the proposed development when they received the July 22nd letter.

If you're trying to visualize the location of the parking lot/proposed new building, it's a half block west of the intersection where The Shift, Michael's Pizza, and GNS Foods are located. At that point, Belle Plaine is a narrow residential block that runs between Broadway and Sheridan.

Lowell's Last Call On Friday

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A note from Lowell Thompson, whose Down In Uptown exhibit is currently at the Uptown Arts Center (941 West Lawrence, 4th Floor):

"My Down In Uptown exhibition comes down this Friday, July 31, 2015.

If you missed the opening, you may want to come by and get an eyeful....and maybe even a celebratory glass of box wine.

4pm - 7pm, Uptown Arts Center

Btw: Those of you who had the great taste (and good sense) to actually buy something can pick up their piece(s)."

From Condemned Storefronts To Penthouse Rentals: 4421 North Clark Goes On The Market

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Since Thanksgiving 2011, when a fire destroyed the interiors of three empty buildings at 4415-4423 North Clark, we've been watching with interest to see what develops.  We watched the city condemn them, then we saw them torn down, then we saw an empty lot for a couple years.  In spring of 2014, a new development began to go up.

Now a reader tells us they're ready for tenants.  "My husband and I live across the street from the new construction at 4421 N. Clark St. They are advertising market-rate rental apartments that will be available for move-in by August 1. There are 15 units ranging from 2-3 bedrooms, ranging from $2,099-$3,099/month, including penthouse units with private rooftops.

I wish I could get commission for forwarding, but I'm just excited to have a new, quality addition to the neighborhood. Our stretch of Clark St. is finally getting some TLC and development.

Here's the Zillow listing for one of the 2 bedroom units with pictures, etc:"

Drink Martinis, It's For The Kids!

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Sunnyside Mall Art & Music Fest, This Saturday

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On Saturday, August 1st come to the 3rd Annual Sunnyside Mall Art & Music Festival on Sunnyside Avenue between Magnolia and Malden from 9am-3pm.  Over 20 artists, four musicians and two food trucks.  Get your morning java and scones from Heritage Bikes Coffee Truck  and roll right into BBQ from Johnny Van’s while perusing handmade jewelry, drawings, paintings, woodwork, American Doll Clothes, Blackhawks specific art, handmade hats, clothing and children’s soft toys.  All this plus… four musicians filling the street with jazz, blue grass, rock and soul!

Come hangout in the heart of Sheridan Park!

Treasures of Uptown: A Conversation About Homelessness

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With homelessness so prevalent and talked about within our community, Treasures of Uptown (an interfaith action coalition) will be hosting an event on Sunday, August 2nd to address this topic and what we can do to improve the situation. Speakers from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will be joining us, as well as members of various community organizations. We will begin at 2:30pm with a documentary screening, followed by light refreshments and discussion. The event is FREE and details can be found in the flyer above and in our Facebook event

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Green Shirt Studio Offers Free Fridays In August, Including Acting Workshops and Community Yoga

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Green Shirt Studio, an acting and performance training center located at 4407 N Clark, is thrilled to announce two new initiatives designed to open the school up to the public – free workshops every Friday, as well as the addition of four on-going yoga classes every week. Both new programs begin August 1.

Free Fridays will include a community yoga class at 2pm, a repetition workshop (part of the Meisner technique for actors) at 7pm, and a rotating workshop that will focus on an element of acting or performance technique at 8pm. All Free Friday events are first-come, first-served and donations are accepted.

To kick off the Free Fridays events, Green Shirt will be hosting a launch party on August 7 at 8pm. Guests will have the chance to meet many of Green Shirt Studio’s instructors, network with other actors, and enjoy free food, drinks and more.

The schedule for the August Free Fridays is as follows:
  • August 7, 8pm: Free Fridays Launch Party and Networking
  • August 14, 8pm: Cold-reading Audition Bootcamp
  • August 21, 8pm: “Behind the Scenes: Realities of the Casting Process” with Jason Teresi, Director of Regional Services for Breakdown Services
  • August 28, 8pm: Monologue Brush-up
In addition to the Free Fridays, Green Shirt is also offering four new ongoing yoga classes. Yoga classes will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am, Fridays at 2pm (part of Free Fridays), and Sundays at 7pm. All classes are one hour and cost $10.  The yoga schedule is as follows:
  • Slow Flow Yoga: Mondays at 10am.
  • Power Vinyasa Flow: Wednesdays at 10am.
  • Community Yoga: Fridays at 2pm.
  • Restorative Yoga by Candelight: Sundays at 7pm.
Green Shirt Studio is run by husband-and-wife acting teachers Andrew Gallant and Sommer Austin. They opened their first studio space in the Uptown neighborhood in September 2014. For more information on Green Shirt Studio, please call 773-217-9565 or visit

Friend of the 46th Ward Schools to Hold Transitional Meeting

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From Friends of the 46th Ward Schools:

"Please join us for a meeting to discuss volunteer opportunities with Friends of the 46th Ward Schools, including board positions.  We hope to vote in new board members and briefly discuss the future of our group as we transition to new leadership.  If you can't make the meeting but are still interested, please use e-mail us at  We'll try to keep you posted on details and developments before and after the meeting."

For more on what's going on with the organization, check out our previous post:  Volunteers Needed! Friends of the 46th Ward Schools Seeks New Board

If you're interested in helping out, the meeting will be held Thursday, August 6th, at 6:30pm, at the Uptown Library, 929 West Buena.  Free parking is available in the lot.

Career Thief Found Guilty of Uptown Burglaries, Sentenced To The Pokey

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His name is Vernon Crockett, but he's better known to cops, attorneys, and victims as Kevin Peters.  Now he's known as a resident of Stateville Correctional Center.

Earlier this month, Mr. Crockett was found guilty of four residential burglaries in Uptown in mid-2013, at which time he was arrested.  He's been in custody ever since.  Video footage and DNA evidence combined to help convict him.

He was sentenced to 16 years, of which he must serve at least eight years.  His earliest parole date will be in June of 2021.

Mr. Crockett's been in the sticky-fingers game a long time.  At his current age of 51, he has a rap sheet going back to 1981, which lists 19 felonies, all involving taking things that don't belong to him and entering places he shouldn't. He's served time for home invasion, robbery, burglary, attempted residential burglary, and residential burglary.  The latest four counts involve apartments at Leland and Broadway.  The 16-year sentence he just received is the longest one he's been given.

People with nice things will have a hiatus from Mr. Crockett for the remainder of the decade.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Effects of the Proposed TOD Expansion on Uptown

The orange and blue blocks to the left, along Clark, are (we're guessing) within a quarter-mile of the Metra line that runs along Ravenswood.  The rest are within a quarter-mile of the Red Line.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

If the expansion of transit oriented development happens, per the Mayor's proposal, the Metropolitan Planning Council has published a report about how it foresees the change affecting the 77 official community areas in the city of Chicago.  We've highlighted the Uptown projections.  You can see the entire MPC analysis here.

Got strong feelings about it?  Contact your alderman.

Transit Oriented Development Reform Proposed By Mayor Emanuel

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With a $200-million rehab of the Wilson el happening right now and plenty of empty spaces on the blocks surrounding the Red Line, "transit-oriented developments" (TODs) are something we've heard a lot about, and will hear a lot more about. Basically, TODs offer incentives to developers who build close to public transit. So this could be a real game-changer for the areas located within a quarter-mile of Metra and el stations, if it happens.

Per a press release from the city today, the city is proposing that TODs get a big boost, with expanded TOD zones, fewer parking requirements, and increased incentives for developers who include affordable housing units in the new buildings. Here are excerpts from the press release:


Reform Would Add More Than $400 Million to Local Economy Annually

Mayor Emanuel announced today that he will be introducing at the July 29 City Council meeting a transit oriented development (TOD) reform ordinance that would create incentives for more development near Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra stations.  The new ordinance builds upon the Mayor’s 2013 TOD ordinance by expanding the size of the TOD zones, eliminating the parking requirements in these areas altogether, and adding new incentives for affordable housing. According to a preliminary analysis by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), these reforms would generate more than $400 million in economic activity and $100 million in tax revenue for the City and its sister agencies each year. The MPC analysis can be viewed HERE

The proposed ordinance will encourage mixed commercial and residential use developments near transit stations. These developments will expand access to transit, bring new amenities to neighborhoods, and foster economic growth across the city. It will make the following enhancements to the zoning code:
  • TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street.
  • A 100% reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking.  
  • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law.
  • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site. 
“I have continually promised to bring more positive changes to my ward and one want to do this to capitalizing on the building boom taking place throughout Chicago. For this and other reasons, zoning is especially important now, and working with Mayor Emanuel and my colleagues in City Council we can bring more development to my Ward and across our city and as importantly, generate needed revenues,” said Alderman James Cappleman (46th Ward).

According to the MPC, the Mayor’s reforms would generate more than $400 million in economic activity and $100 million in tax revenue for the City and its sister agencies each year. The MPC’s analysis also evaluated the economic and housing impact by neighborhood.      

“Streamlining approvals and expanding incentives for development near transit is a zero-cost way for the City to deliver what people are clamoring for: more places to live, work and shop within walking distance of train stations,” said MarySue Barrett, president, Metropolitan Planning Council. “By increasing incentives for proposals that include affordable housing, the City is clearly signaling that Chicagoans of all incomes should have opportunities to enjoy the benefits of living and working near transit.”

Prior to 2013, the City’s zoning code did not promote development around transit stations. In 2013, the Emanuel Administration passed an ordinance that provided new zoning incentives including reduced parking requirements and greater height and density bonuses for projects near transit stations. To be eligible for the incentives, projects needed to be either within 600 feet of a transit station or 1200 feet of a transit station along a pedestrian-designated street. To date, the ordinance has facilitated the development of eight projects worth more than $132 million, creating nearly 1,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs. Promoting TOD will drive additional economic development to neighborhoods.

  • Pedestrian Street: A retail-oriented street designated on the City zoning map due to a high concentration of stores and a mostly continuous pattern of buildings along the sidewalk.
  • Minimum Lot Area: The minimum amount of lot area required per dwelling unit
  • Floor Area Ratio: The ratio of the floor area of all principal buildings to the total area of the lot upon which the buildings are located.
  • Affordable Requirements Ordinance: Requires projects of 10 or more units that require a zoning change or other City assistance to include affordable housing provisions."
Remember, the city and state are broke. Services are being cut. Pension payments that were kicked down the road by previous administrations are looming. If we want money for the city to function, for programs to not be cut, taxes will have to be generated.  If, as MPC projects, this can raise $100-million for the city annually, we like it.  It's not comfortable, it's not what we're used to as Chicagoans, but there's going to be a lot of that going on in the future. This doesn't raise our taxes as homeowners and renters while having the potential to raise money for the city, and it provides affordable housing near public transit. If it goes through, and if it works as projected, we like it.

Update:  The text of the entire press release we've excerpted from is on Ald. Cappleman's website.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Art Gallery With A Difference Opens In Uptown

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Lawrence & Clark owner Jason Pickleman with a new piece by artist Ronny Hunger,
acquired just this past week specifically for the large wall in the gallery
Some of the pieces on display
It's not your usual art gallery.  For one thing, it's in a storefront next to a $5 haircut shop, and the most recent tenant there was a convenience store.  For another, there's nothing for sale and no admission fee.  It exists solely as a way for the owner to display his art collection, to share what he loves with the world.

Welcome to Lawrence & Clark gallery, which just opened two weeks ago. As befits its micro size, it has micro hours, open 1pm to 5pm on Saturdays, and also by appointment.

Owner Jason Pickleman, a resident of Lakeview, loves art and has invested in works by many artists, some of them very early in their careers. He decided to open the gallery as a way to spread the enjoyment he gets from his collection. When asked what he gets out of opening a gallery with no obvious profit motive, he simply says, "I have a good day job. This is my passion."

The works are from his private collection, except for a few that Mr. Pickleman created himself, and the media used in the pieces range from household items to neon to oils on canvas. The exhibits will change frequently, so what you see this week may not be there next week.

Next time you're in the area of 4755 Clark on a Saturday afternoon, poke your head in and say hello. Enjoy the art. That's what it's there for.

More about the gallery:

National Night Out Against Crime On Tuesday, August 4th

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's Official! Ross Dress For Less Coming To Montrose Avenue


In April, Uptown Update posted the news that Mid-America Real Estate Group's website was featuring a listing for the former Dearborn Wholesale site at 918 Montrose, with renderings showing that Ross Dress For Less would be the anchor tenant.  Shortly after we posted about it, we were told that the deal with Ross had not yet been finalized, despite the diagrams on the website.

An observant reader (thanks, JD!) sent in this photo today, which confirms that Ross is indeed coming to Montrose.  The flyer and specs are no longer on Mid-America's website, but as of last April there was still one retail space with 4,800 square feet available at the site. So even if Ross Dress for Less isn't your cuppa tea, there's still room for another retailer that might be.

With Pensacola Place right across the street recently selling for $66 million, it seems Montrose is experiencing a heyday.  Good to see so many companies investing big money in Uptown.

Work Progresses on "Ba Le Desserts" Site

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The storefront for "Ba Le Desserts & Drinks," at 5018 N Broadway -- the original storefront of Ba Le Sandwich before it moved one door south -- is coming along, slow but steady. The entire front of the storefront has been pulled out, and there's some roof work being done, apparently, under the tarp.

Ba Le told us that the new store will serve desserts and bubble tea and be a more comfortable social setting than the sandwich shop.  It's not going at what we'd term "lightning speed," but we're really looking forward to enjoying their delicious pastries in a new setting.

Friday, July 24, 2015

CPS Budget Cuts & Stewart School Building's Future

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From Ald. Cappleman's weekly newsletter:

"This week, our local schools were provided with school budgets for the 2015-16 school year. As soon as I learned of the budget cuts, I contacted Rep. Greg Harris to see what I could do to fight this decision. Most of our schools are going to have to do more with less and, one in particular, was looking at cutting teachers and combining different grades into one classroom. McCutcheon Elementary was facing a $611,150 cut to next year's budget. Today, Principal Farrell notified me that as a result of my push and the push from State Rep. Greg Harris, $250,000 of their $611,150 cut was restored. This means that they will not have to lay off 3 teachers and combine classrooms. As you can see from the chart, the news still isn't good, so there is more work to do.

Decatur Classical School in West Rogers Park expressed some interest with relocating to Stewart so that they could expand to include a seventh and eighth grade level. I cannot support any money from the State or CPS going to Decatur given the budget cuts to our neighborhood schools. My priority is making sure that our neighborhood schools receive the funding they need support the children in our ward. Yesterday, I asked CPS to release their request for proposal that includes public feedback obtained a year ago with the help of the Metropolitan Planning Council. To view MPC's report, click here.

I am hoping that if we are unable to reuse the Stewart property for a CPS public school, it will be sold to benefit the surrounding community while assisting CPS in increasing needed revenue to reduce cuts in our local schools."

One Down, One To Go: Cedar Street Projects Seek Local Support

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Cedar Street/FLATS's proposed new building at 1050 W Wilson has passed the first hurdle in the long approval process. According to the Truman Square Neighbors Facebook page, the block club voted in support of upzoning the parking lot where the new building will presumably be built.  The vote was 98 in favor of upzoning, 6 against it.

The other Cedar Street Cos. proposed building at the SE corner of Sheridan and Wilson will seek the same support from the Clarendon Park Neighbors block club.  The residents living in the CPNA area (bordered by Sheridan, Wilson, Clarendon and Montrose) will meet to hear more about the project on Thursday, August 6th, at 7pm.  The meeting will take place at Cedar Streets' corporate offices at 1025 Sunnyside (across the street from Target) on the third floor.  You can see the renderings and applications for 975 W Wilson at Ald. Cappleman's website.

If you're going to the art exhibit opening tonight at FLATSstudio ("No Sad Stuff"), you can see up close and personal one of the sites of the planned new construction.  It takes place at 1050 West Wilson.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wilson & Paulina Street Closure Friday

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If your morning commute involves Wilson, you'll want to know this.  From Ald. Pawar:

"Dear Neighbor,

I want to alert you of this notice just received.

 Crews from the Department of Water Management will be replacing pipes under N. Paulina St. and W. Wilson Ave tomorrow and there will be a FULL CLOSURE of the Paulina-Wilson intersection from 7:00 AM to approximately 1:00 PM tomorrow, July 24.

Please plan your travel accordingly, and avoid the area if at all possible. Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout this closure."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Enjoy A Garden Walk In Graceland West

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NUNA Block Club Block Party Coming Up

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A Sad Ending For Uptown Man

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A body discovered this morning in Lake Michigan near Fullerton was identified as that of Dionysus Ames, a bipolar man who walked away from an Uptown group home last winter.

Thresholds reported that he was missing from his home at the Lorali (1039 West Lawrence) last January, and CPD put out a Missing Persons report about him.  An astute UU reader noticed that at the time he had been reported missing, he was in the Will County jail on charges of illegal possession of prescription forms, unauthorized possession of a prescription and forgery.

We don't know when he was released and where he was in the interim months, but we hope he is now at peace. According to the Tribune, a death investigation has been launched.

Our condolences to those who knew and loved Mr. Ames.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Movie Screening At The Bezazian This Saturday

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Senn High School Principal Removed By CPS

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Although Senn High School isn't in Uptown, it is attended by students living in Uptown.  Ald. Osterman sent out an email blast Monday regarding a change in the administration of the school:

"Dear Neighbor,

On Friday, Chicago Public Schools removed Susan Lofton as principal of Senn High School. This action was taken as a result of a CPS Inspector General’s investigation.

As a strong supporter of Senn, I am deeply disappointed by this news.

Assistant Principal Carter Carey will serve as the administrator in charge of Senn until CPS can appoint an interim principal. CPS representatives will be meeting with staff, teachers, the LSC, parents and students to discuss this leadership change.

Senn is our community’s local high school, and it must be a safe, inclusive and outstanding learning institution for all the students and families in our community. As more than 1,300 Senn students prepare to start a new school year in September, it is important that we work to ensure that they have a productive year of learning and growth.

I will work with the new leadership team at CPS and the educational leaders at Senn to make sure that Senn High School keeps moving forward in a positive direction for all the students of our community.

I will update you further in the weekly newsletter about the leadership change at Senn.

You can read a letter from the Senn Local School Council by clicking here."

There's an article in the Sun-Times with more details about the change of leadership.

Demo Work Begins On Riviera Lofts At Broadway & Lawrence

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Interior demo work appears to have begun at the Riviera Building at Lawrence and Broadway. We spotted open windows on the third floor and two trucks parked outside marked with demolition and garbage disposal. You might remember that this building at 4752-60 N. Broadway was purchased for $2.85M last month by developer Mike Krueger. The second and third floors of this beautifully restored building will be converted into lofts. Bank of America occupies the ground floor retail.

Property Tax Assistance Available Through Bridget Gainer's Office

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