Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Sarah's Circle Headquarters Just About Finished

Like most things, it's taken longer than expected, but the building that Sarah's Circle has been rehabbing at 4836 N Sheridan is just about ready.  (Grand Opening in October, we hear.)  After 35 years in Uptown, most recently in the ICA building (4750 N Sheridan), the organization is moving a block north and will own its headquarters.

In March 2009, an overnight windstorm blew the facade right off the building, which
at that time housed the New Hope International Church.  The two-story front addition
was a fairly recent "enhancement" to the original three-story building, which remains.
So scaffolding went up to protect passersby from any further incidents,
and it stayed and stayed and stayed
By  2012, the addition that had been built onto the front of the original building
got removed at long last, and so did the scaffolding.

The original building was gutted.

A reader took this photo this week, and said he'd been seeing furniture delivered over the past few weeks.  The building's rehab was designed by architects Perkins + Will, who worked on a pro bono basis.  Sarah's Circle has signed a Good Neighbor Agreement setting forth its obligations and community expectations.  A huge improvement to the streetscape, in our opinion.


  1. Really a beautiful facade to brighten up that strip of Sheridan in Uptown! Welcome to the hood, folks.

  2. i agree it looks nice and i want to be optimistic, but is another homeless shelter really what we were hoping for in that space?

    1. Unknown, did you happen to read the article? Especially the part that says that Sarah's Circle have been in Uptown for 35 years and are moving down the street? So your use of "another" homeless shelter is incorrect. So is your use of "homeless shelter." This place will have ten apartments in it for Sarah Circle's clients who have completed their programs and have jobs. By definition, a person who pays for an apartment is not "homeless." Most people think it's a good thing for them to find work and a place to live, particularly an apartment where the landlord lives right there on the premises and is available 24 hours a day.

      As for "what we were hoping for in that space," it boggles the mind. Let me think about it .... Does Uptown need (a) more attractive, repurposed buildings designed by internationally famous architects or (b) more falling-down buildings that sit empty under dark scaffolding for years?

      Sarah's Circle financed the place through HUD grants and private donations and has signed a legally binding Good Neighbor Agreement with Castlewood Neighbors. Yeah, they sound like shady characters to me.

    2. I think people's negative concerns (including my own) include the OTHER types of people this will attract - the drug dealers that prey on the vulnerable. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why there are gang problems in Uptown, there’s plenty of recovering/current abusers here. How many more people have to get shot and killed in this hood before ignorant people stop pretending this type of overcrowded public services environment is good for anyone. Maybe it will take the well-wishers to witness a shooting like I have or even be more personally effected.

      Sarah’s Circle maybe be an better social services organization but it’s still going to create problems even if they try their best to control it. Sorry, you know it’s the truth. Obliviousness is not a good answer.

  3. Sarah's Circle moving down the street actually will help ease the congestion that makes up part of the situation we have Sheridan/Lawrence (where there are currently located in the ICA building). Please note that Sarah's Circle was created by Uptown women for Uptown women in the 1970's. Uptown is their home just as much as it is ours. I read that the 10 apartments on site would be permanent housing for 10 women who were disabled, had no income, and had been chronically homeless. Check out the site... it also has a rendering of the building.

  4. This is what's going in the building: "The building will house our Daytime Support Center, Clinical Services, administrative offices, and ten women who have been chronically homeless." It will be a hub of social services.

    I'd love to know the text of the "Good Neighbor Agreement" so that it can be enforced when the time comes. Call me a pessimist or jaded, but I'll put good money on the bet that that the time for enforcing their promises will come. And I agree with Wang Chung that my concern isn't really about housing the down and out, it's about the riff raff that are drawn specifically to places that cater to the down and out. And we're not just talking about the 10 residents, but all of the other non-residents who will be coming to the location for the Daytime Support Center and Clinical Services.

    Finally, just for the record, providing housing for the homeless does not come without consequences. There must be accountability for the devil's work in idle hands. Lest we forget, the SRO at the corner of Argyle and Kenmore houses quite a few formerly-homeless people. Have any of you seen that corner lately? Obviously, not everybody in that building is a problem, but it only takes a few. I hope I can speak for the community when I say that we're happy that people are getting permanent housing. But permanent housing doesn't necessarily mean people are off the streets. The people at Argyle and Kenmore are, quite literally, on the street all day long and their should be some sort of follow-up to put an end to that nonsense.

    My biggest worry is that Sarah's Circle means well, but will not be very accountable when it comes to enforcing the Good Neighbor Agreement with respect to their own tenants and clients. Sarah's Circle needs to be able to protect their residents from drugs and alcohol, and I think they also need to be willing to evict one of their own if they aren't toeing the line. That kind of tough love just seems contrary to their mission, so I have my doubts.

    I'd love to be pleasantly surprised. And if so, let Sarah's Circle be a model to the other agencies in Uptown.

  5. nugatory, yes that Kenmore & Argle SRO is called the "North Mirror". It is a reward for people who attend the overnight shelter for a period of 6 months and "toe the line". I agree, they tend to loiter about across the street from the liquor store & something needs to be done.