Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shop Local On Saturday

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We love our national chains, but we also love our mom-n-pops! Today is Small Business Saturday, a chance to show our locally owned businesses some love and some dollars.

Did you know that when you shop at an independent business, more of your money gets reinvested right back into Uptown? "A study conducted by Andersonville Development Corporation in Chicago shows that for every $100 spent at a national chain only $43 stays in the community. If that same $100 is spent at locally owned independent stores $68 stays in the community."

There are truly too many locally owned businesses to list, but you have your favorites, we're sure. Spend some money there! Choose an independent retailer close to home and be a champion.

And remember to shop and eat at our locally owned businesses year-round.  They are truly the heart and soul of every community.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Nigerian Kitchen" Closes On Wilson

Nigerian Kitchen, now for rent at 1363 W. Wilson
Long-time Wilson Avenue restaurant Nigerian Kitchen has closed and is for rent. We also got a disconnect message when a call was placed to the restaurant.
A fire broke out in the church storefront just to the east of the restaurant back in September. No word if that was a factor in the restaurant closing.
This building is one of the last remaining original one-story storefronts on Wilson and could use a little TLC. Happy Wash, one of the other tenants in the building, recently completed a refurbishment of the laundromat, but the exterior of this building needs attention.
If you know of any restaurateurs looking for a space, point them towards this spot! Wilson could use a good Mexican restaurant. Hint, hint.

Update: Upon closer inspection, the neighboring church storefront looks to be abandoned/empty as well, leaving Happy Wash as the only remaining tenant in the building.  The number listed on the FOR RENT sign is "Betty" at 312-731-1660

We're Grateful To Live In Uptown, And For You

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No TIF Funds Will Be Used If Stewart School Reopens As Decatur

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In an article entitled Decatur Parents Want to Expand into Stewart Building, the Sun-Times explores the question of what will happen to the building that formerly housed Graeme Stewart School, located at 4525 North Kenmore.  At community meetings held by the neutral Metropolitan Planning Commission last May, the conclusions that were reached included:
  1. The existing school building, a beautiful, historic and important structure in Uptown, should be preserved and reused.
  2. If the building is reused as a school, the community’s strong preference is that it be a public school.
Now Decatur School, a top public school, would like to move into the empty building, but -- this being Uptown -- there are objections being raised. One of them is that it's somehow unfair to Uptowners if Wilson Yard TIF funds are used for the move.

We all know that TIFs siphon off money from public schools (among other entities).  Because of that, we don't see a problem with TIF money going back to a public school, particularly one that's right across the street from the very TIF project that has and will continue to suck hundreds of thousands of dollars away from CPS for years to come. But, the Sun-Times reveals, TIF money isn't even an issue:
[C]onfirmation from the Uptown alderman that no local tax-increment financing money will be used to pay for the proposed expansion of a selective, test-in school defused some of the criticism. [...]   
“The confusion is that people saw there was money available in the TIF, and there is. The problem though is that money is being used to pay off past projects like the Truman College Garage,” [Ald. James Cappleman] said. “I want this to work. But it can’t be done using TIF funds that don’t exist.”
Cappleman said he’s talking about seeking funding with corporations and with state and federal elected officials, such as State Sen. Heather Steans and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to allow Decatur to expand to include 7th and 8th grades, and to move to Uptown from Rogers Park, lies with the CPS Board. And we all remember from a year and a half ago how well they listen to public opinion.

We'd love to see the number one public school in Illinois be right here in Uptown.  But for now, like everyone else, we just have to stay tuned and see what Barbara Byrd-Bennett and her crew decide.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some Lakefront Park Closures Thanksgiving Morning

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The Turkey Day Run will be taking place in the park along the lakefront Thursday morning, with a few closures to be aware of, if you're in the area and an early holiday riser:
  • Irving Park (northbound off-ramp and northbound on-ramp) between Marine Drive and the Lakefront Trail, closed 8:30am to 10:45am
  • Montrose (northbound off-ramp only) between the northbound off-ramp and the Lakefront Trail, closed 8:30am to 10:30am
For more information about the race, click here.

Tik Tok Tapped?

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Has time run out for Tik Tok Falafel? A reader noticed this morning that the kitchen equipment at the storefront, located on Wilson between Magnolia and Malden, has been removed, and that the furniture had been put in a pile on the floor. We hate to see any business fail, but particularly one on a stretch of Wilson that needs all the help it can get.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rahim AlHaj In Concert At Truman College Tuesday

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Truman College Student Government in association with Truman Student Activities cordially invites the public to attend An Afternoon with Rahim AlHaj, an event designed to experience AlHaj’s “journey of determined optimism”. The event will provide the community with an amazing opportunity to hear this two-time Grammy® nominated World Recording artist and composer perform the oud.

The event is open to the general public and will be held on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. There is no cost for the public to attend.

It will take place at Truman College, 1145 West Wilson, in Room 3426 (Novar Hall).  It all happens between 1pm and 3pm.

Prospective Candidates Throw Their Hats In The Ring

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Today was the deadline for candidates running for city offices in February 2015 to file their nominating petitions with the Board of Elections, and this is how it all shakes out for Uptown:

46th Ward:
  • Signatures were submitted for James Cappleman, Amy Crawford, and Denice Davis for Alderman.
47th Ward:
  • Signatures were submitted for Rory Fiedler and Ameya Pawar for Alderman.
48th Ward:
  • Apparently Harry Osterman will be running unopposed, since he is the only candidate to file nominating petitions.
What's next?  Citizens and candidates have the option of formally challenging or objecting to signatures on candidates' petitions, citing various criteria including non-valid or duplicative signatures that would put the total number under 473.  The Board of Elections will begin holding hearings on the validity of such challenges in December, before the ballots are finalized.

For the record, there are several wards with seven to ten candidates submitting petitions, but nothing compares to the Seventh Ward, with a monster sixteen candidates filing.  Glad that's not in Uptown.  FYI, there are ten candidates running for mayor of our fair city.

So, sit back, enjoy the campaign literature coming your way (unless you live in the 48th Ward), and make an informed decision about who you want to vote for on February 24th.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

4520 Beacon Status Check, Part Two

4520 N. Beacon has now topped out
When we last checked in on 4520 N Beacon back in April, the 2nd floor was just taking shape. You might remember that this was the former location of Hull House and is now in the process of being converted into 24 market-rate rental units, a mix of two and three bedrooms. Dave Gassman, the developer, was able to reuse the existing Hull House foundation for the project.

Today, the building is topped out and major construction is complete. We spotted new trees in the parkway and also in front of the building where the beloved "Beacon Gorilla" will soon be returning. Posts for new fencing are up around the perimeter of the property, as well as new trees on each side of the parking lot entrance off of Beacon. On the backside of the building, we spotted new balconies as well as lots of work being done on the sunken garden outdoor area of the building, presumably for common outdoor space for residents.

While the design isn't likely to win any awards, we think this will be a great adaptive reuse for a lovely spot in Sheridan Park. Between this development, and 1325 W. Wilson, Sheridan Park is seeing one of the biggest construction booms in recent history and we look forward to welcoming our new neighbors.

High-End Barber Shop Winner of "The FLATS Project" Contest


Looks like it's official. The winner of the FLATS Project to encourage small businesses to set up shop in Uptown is "The Public Barber."

Details on the business acceleration program can be found here, and more about The Public Barber can be found here. Congrats to the winner!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Can You Donate Food, Clothing Or Toys To Your Neighbors?

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With the holidays approaching, and cold weather already here, both Alds. Cappleman and Osterman are promoting ways for generous residents to make the season a little happier and a lot warmer for our neighbors in need:

From Ald. Cappleman's latest weekly newsletter:
  • "My office is partnering with the Greater Chicago Food Depository this holiday season for its "One City, One Food Drive" campaign. You can join the fight against hunger by dropping off shelf-sustainable food donations at the 46th Ward office. The most needed items include canned beans & chili, peanut butter, soup, jelly, tuna, and other non-perishable items.  We have Food Drive bags and boxes that you can pick-up at the Ward Office to collect items from your friends and neighbors. Just bring them back to my office when they are full. Click here for more information.
  • Clothing items.  The City of Chicago's Community Service Center at 845 W. Wilson needs newly purchased gloves, socks, caps, and underwear for adults and families that come to them in need. The greatest need right now is for adult clothing. We are using my office as the drop-off location to save space at the community center, so feel free to drop these off during our office hours (Monday night we are open late from 5-7), or call 773-878-4646 to arrange a different time.
  • Toys for Tots.  The 46th Ward is also participating with Toys for Tots again this year since they serve many of the children in our community. Again, please feel free to drop off your purchased toys at the 46th Ward office. If you or anyone you know would like to apply to receive toys this Christmas, click here. When:  Now through Monday, December 8. Where: 46th Ward Office; 4544 N. Broadway" 

From Ald. Osterman's latest weekly newsletter:
  • "48th Ward Hat and Glove Drive.  
Last year, we collected over 400 hats and gloves for students at our local schools. Join us in our effort to surpass last year's number in our annual Hat & Glove Drive benefiting 48th Ward elementary schools: Swift, McCutcheon, Goudy, Hayt and Peirce Elementary. This drive will provide warm clothes to children in need in our community. You can bring hats and gloves to the 48th Ward office at 5533 N. Broadway. Our office is open Monday - Friday 9:00am-5:00pm and by appointment in the evening. The drive will end on Friday, December 12.
  • Andersonville Toy Drive for Care for Real.  The Andersonville Toy Drive for Care for Real begins on Saturday, November 22 during St. Morten’s Gos Day, the quirky kick-off to the holiday season in the Andersonville neighborhood, and there are many opportunities for Andersonville and Edgewater residents and businesses to lend a hand toward this great effort! Starting this day, you can drop off toys at three local businesses: The Coffee Studio, 5628 N. Clark George’s Ice Cream & Sweets, 5306 N. Clark Foursided Custom Framing Gallery, 5061 N. Clark. Toys can also be dropped off at the 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman’s office at 5533 N. Broadway during their regular business hours. Toys will be collected through Monday, December 15th. For more information on the drive click here."
If you are able, please donate generously to help those who are in need of a little assistance to get through the long winter.

1325 Wilson FLATS Building Now Open For New Leases

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The "Now Leasing" sign is out at 1325 West Wilson (at Beacon) in the old Norman Hotel. two and a half years after the negligent former owner sold the building due to foreclosure.  Today we saw work going on outside in the patio area that used to be the one of our favorite parts of the Fontana Grill (which we still miss, although we are giving up hope of the promised reopening).

FLATS is apparently taking its partnership with Heritage Outpost seriously.  The bike store/coffee shop, which will take up some of the storefronts at the Norman Hotel location (as well as in the former Lawrence House), is giving a free bike to each tenant who signs a two-year lease by the end of the year.  See the email below for details.

Mmm, Mmm, Good

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If you're a fan of Crew, like we are, you'll want to try out their new menu, which emphasizes fresh ingredients and daily lunch specials.  Check it out here. Crew is located at 4804 North Broadway.

"Crew's Executive Chef, Robyn Marfurt, has introduced a new menu at Crew Bar + Grill. The menu combines our most popular items like wings and ale chicken strips, with new creations that are sure to become your new favorites.

The emphasis of the new menu is on homemade, fresh ingredients with bold flavors and a variety of sauces. Seasonal salads complement the sandwiches and wraps.  Our new appetizers are perfect for one or to share.

With our daily lunch specials you can choose a "lunch-sized" portion of a variety of sandwiches and salads for only $6.  Our fresh soup of the day is perfect any time of the year."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

People's Music School To Offer Free Music Therapy

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If your child is between 8 and 13 years old and would benefit from music therapy right here in Uptown, and for no cost to you, please check out the new program that will begin at the wonderful People's Music School.  You can click on the flyer for a larger version, or check it out at

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Robbery Alert For Businesses

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Police have issued an alert about several businesses being held up on the North Side, including one in Uptown on the 5000 block of Sheridan.  No description of the bad guy was given, but his M.O. is that he enters the store alone early in the morning, displays a handgun, and robs the safe and cash register.

His other confirmed robbery was in West Ridge.

This is what the cops suggest for local businesses:
  • Be aware of this crime and alert other businesses in the area.
  • Employees should call 911 to report any suspicious person(s) who may be lingering around their business.
  • Business owners should ensure that their business equipped with a working video surveillance system and hold up alarm.
  • Call 911 immediately and provide a detailed description of the offender(s) including any vehicle description and license plate information.
If you have any information, contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area North at (312) 744-8263.

The Signs Of Uptown

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Holidays are coming up, so what to get for your favorite person in Uptown?

Artist Steve Shanabruch has created the latest in his "Neighborhood Tourism" series depicting the marquees of several historic Uptown landmarks.

Inspired by the art of the WPA, it (and others) can be purchased at this site for $35:

Let The Games Begin!

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If you're a local political junkie (and it's a real spectator sport 'round these parts), today is an exciting day:  the first chance that candidates for Chicago political office can submit their nominating petitions to get on the ballot.  The citywide election will take place on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

Aldermanic candidates must have at least 473 valid signatures on their petitions (registered voters who live in the ward in which they are running, who have not previously signed another candidate's nominating petition).  Candidates for citywide offices (mayor, clerk, treasurer) must have at least 12,500 valid signatures.

Petitions may be turned in to the Board of Elections between November 17th and November 24th. We'll do our best to keep you up-to-date about who's filed aldermanic petitions in each ward.  We anticipate fewer candidates than four years ago, when over 20 candidates claimed to be running for alderman in the 46th, 47th and 48th Wards.

If nothing else, the upcoming week will illuminate who the serious candidates versus folks who've been talking about running for office for years, but never quite manage to show up with any nominating petitions.

After petitions are submitted, they can be challenged or objected to by other candidates or citizens. They can also be rejected by the Board of Elections for non-compliance with its standards.  So the fun all starts today, and won't end until February.  Fasten your seat belts if you love watching and kibitzing about the political process!

Update:  According to the Board of Elections, James Cappleman and Amy Crawford both filed in the 46th Ward, Ameya Pawar filed in the 47th, and Harry Osterman filed in the 48th.  All were officially clocked in at 9am.  Candidates have until 5pm on November 24th to file their petitions.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

FLATS Plans Reuse Of Firehouse On Gunnison

FLATS Chicago's plans for the exterior of 1217-19 W. Gunnison
Good news on the development front from North Uptown Neighbors Association:
"The FLATS company is proposing a zoning change to redevelop an existing structure within NUNA boundaries.

This is the red brick, two-story, currently vacant firehouse building at 1217-19 West Gunnison, on the west side of the alley. The current zoning designation is RS-3, or single unit. FLATS wants to change the zoning to RM 4.5 (multi-unit) and redevelop the property to a 4-residence structure."
View the complete plans for the "Firehouse Lofts" project here. The developer will also be presenting his plans at Ald. Cappleman's office on Wednesday at 6:30PM to NUNA.

How the firehouse currently looks, via Google.

Dismantling the Past, Preparing the Future

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This apocalyptic scene is the former site of the Wilson Broadway Mall, as seen looking south from the 4600 block of Broadway.  Thanks to reader JM for sending it in.

The same vantage point in 2012, as the contents of the store was cleared out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Majestic Terra Cotta From the 1920s Goes Into Storage

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Workers have numbered the terra cotta to be able to re-assemble it correctly
The northeast corner at Leland and Broadway is undergoing a change as part of the ongoing renovation of the Wilson Red Line station.  The sidewalks are blocked off, and the long-neglected terra cotta is being removed after being inspected by workers.

The walls of the former Majestic Building will be removed at some point, and support pillars for the new lighter train overpass over Broadway will be built where the store's interior used to be.  Then the walls will be re-erected (and so, presumably, will the terra cotta), making the building just the latest in a series of Chicago "fake buildings."

In a few years, you can ask your friends to identify Uptown's own little Potemkin Village, as well as wow them with your stories about the "live poultry" shop that used to be at this location, as well as the best place in Uptown to buy lime green mens' suits.

La Colombe Cafe Is Open

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The butcher paper is down from the windows, the final inspection was passed, and La Colombe Cafe at 5158 North Clark is open!  It's at Foster, in the former health food/vitamin shop storefront.  Hours are 7am to 7pm daily.

Snow Warning Tonight

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As much as it pains us to admit, snow is on the way, possibly even today.  Time to have the city's winter website,, bookmarked, if only to see the radar map and weather forecast.  There's also an improved map that will show the city snowplows' progress ("Plow Tracker").

The city has also sent out a reminder of landlords' obligation to keep tenants' units heated in the winter:

"The Chicago Heat Ordinance mandates that landlords supply heat to rental units during cold weather months. From September 15 to June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence must be at least 68 degrees during the day. During the evening, the temperatures must be at least 66 degrees. The Department of Buildings encourages residents to first contact their landlords when these temperatures are not maintained and to call 3-1-1 if no action is being taken. During extreme cold weather, however, the Building Department’s first priority is responding to heat complaints and it reassigns inspectors to handle the increased number of heat complaints."

Welcome to another exciting winter, folks.

See What's Going On In Sustainability At 4750 N Sheridan

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Were You Burgled This Summer or Fall?

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Now this is the kind of story we love to run!  If you live in the area of the 19th Police District (south of Lawrence, north of Fullerton, east of the river) and you got robbed this year, the cops may have your stuff.  This is what they have to say:

"Daunta Head [of the 5800 block of South Indiana] was arrested after he was identified as the offender in multiple burglaries in the area of the 19th (Town Hall) District. Head has pawned numerous items at pawn shops. Head has been charged accordingly.

Area North Detectives have recovered numerous other unclaimed items including, but not limited to jewelry, cameras, and laptops. Detectives are asking for the public's help in identifying the stolen property. These items are specifically from burglary victims in the area of the 19th (Town Hall) District between July 2014 and November 07, 2014. Daunta Head predominantly targeted garden apartments and multi-unit buildings.

Specifically, Detectives are asking for help in finding the owner of a 1966 men's Fenger High School Class Ring with a red stone. The initials engraved in the ring are DJB (photo attached).

Anyone with information about this ring or that has been a victim of a burglary in the area of the 19th District since July 2014 is asked to contact Area North RBT (Robbery/Burglary/Theft) Detectives at 312-744-8263."

The above photos are just a few of the many items recovered.  If you were robbed, please call the number above to see if any of your items were recovered.

Learn About "Forgotten Uptown" Tomorrow At The Bezazian Library

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This Saturday, at the Bezazian Library (1226 W Ainslie) from 2pm to 4pm, there will be a presentation on "Forgotten Uptown" by the folks at Forgotten Chicago.
"In true Forgotten Chicago form, we’ll show present-day photos of the remnants that remain, demonstrating that relics of history are often hidden in plain sight. The presentation will be fully illustrated with historic and present-day photos and maps, such as the former 1928 parking garage at 5050 North Broadway shown above left that was converted to an office for Combined Insurance Company of America (later Aon) in the early 1960s. Mostly empty since 2008, there are currently plans for this unique former parking garage / office building to be converted to apartments."
You can read more about it at the Forgotten Chicago site and at the Bezazian Library site.  If you're interested in what was here before most of us were, this is a don't miss.  (And of course it's free.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holy Metamorphosis, Batman!

See the Aragon (1106 West Lawrence) and the Red Line stop get transformed into part of the set for Superman vs. Batman, filming there today and tomorrow.

You can click each photo for a larger version.  Many thanks to reader DW for being our photographer on the set.

Kids Bring Home The Turkey & Pie At Chase Park On Saturday

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Chase Park is on Leland between Clark and Ashland.

Survey Says.....

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"My name is Hilary Walker and I am a Chicago resident and a Graduate student.  I am currently working on my thesis of connecting Chicago communities to environmental opportunities. Uptown is one of the neighborhoods I am focusing on.

I am currently using an online survey to collect data on Uptown residents' perspective on volunteering and their desire for more opportunities.  The more people who take the survey, a better representation of the neighborhood I have and ultimately this allows me to better develop and tailor and community programs.

It is a quick 9 question survey that should only take about 5 minutes to complete."

Here's the link:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rock Docs At Bezazian: Something From Nothing, The Art of Rap

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Bezazian Library (1226 West Ainslie) presents another in its monthly series of music documentaries tomorrow evening: Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap.

It will show from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday, November 12th, and of course, it's free!
The craft. The history. The power. All these elements of the hip-hop movement are discussed with director Ice-T and the legends he interviews in this compelling and gritty documentary. Featured artists include Afrika Bambaataa, Eminem, Nas, Mos Def, Kanye West, Chuck D, KRS-One, Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC and MC Lyte. (Strong language)
This film is the third in the Bezazian Branch’s Rock Docs series, scheduled on the second Wednesday of each month. For additional information, please call the Bezazian Branch at (312) 744-0019.