Friday, June 24, 2022

Independence Day Fireworks To Take Place at Saddle & Cycle Club on Sunday, July 3rd

We're so lucky to have a professional fireworks display right in our neighborhood.

The Saddle & Cycle Club, at Foster and Marine, has confirmed to UU that it will be holding its annual fireworks show at dusk (start time has been anytime between 9pm and 9:30pm in past years) on Sunday, July 3rd.

While only members of the club and their guests may view the show from inside the club grounds, the fireworks can easily be seen from the surrounding areas. 

You can see them from Kathy Osterman Beach, Foster Avenue Beach, Margate Park, and from friends' homes along Foster Avenue and Marine Drive (there's still time to wangle an invitation!).

To our south, Navy Pier will be holding its Fireworks Spectacular on Saturday, July 2nd, at 10pm.

UU Note: Want to know more about our very low-key 128-year-old neighbor? Uptown Update did a "Flashback Friday" feature about the Saddle & Cycle Club a few years ago.

Photo credit: Perri Smith. 2021 Saddle & Cycle show.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Lawrence Viaduct Fire Damage Being Repaired; All Residents Offered Opportunities For Permanent Housing

"The Lawrence Drive viaduct under DuSable Lake Shore Drive has been cleared of the encampments in order to do required electrical repairs for the lighting that was destroyed by the last two fires that occurred there earlier this year. 

CDOT has agreed to fully repair and repaint the viaducts after every fire without the use of 46th Ward menu funds. The repairs are expected to take approximately one week to complete, weather permitting.

Once completed, the people who have been living there can either return back with all of their belongings or accept other options that include offers of permanent housing or opportunities that lead to permanent housing. The Department of Family and Support Services and other social service agencies continue to actively engage with everyone residing other the viaducts and continue to offer services including housing.

Click here for more information about successful strategies put out by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness that have demonstrated success of getting people off the streets and into housing.  Ald. Cappleman continues to advocate for the City of Chicago to adopt this same approach."

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Annual Procession of Monks On Monday

Yesterday was the annual pilgrimage through Uptown by the monks of the (Vietnamese) Quang Minh Temple in Ravenswood. As Rev. Patti, from the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, explained several years ago:

"They are doing an ancient Buddhist custom of monks paying an annual visit to neighboring temples. Anyone is welcome to watch them pay respects at each temple and donations are appreciated from lay followers."

Photographer Bill Biederman saw the procession and took pictures, which he was generous enough to share with us.

We are lucky to live in a community like Uptown, where the experiences and backgrounds of our neighbors are so rich and varied. We love seeing the annual procession of the monks and learning about religious traditions different from what we grew up with.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Alderman Cappleman Approves Immaculata Development

Alderman Cappleman's latest newsletter contains his decision to approve the 640 W. Irving Park Road proposal, otherwise known as the 'Immaculata' Development. 

Perkins Eastman Architects

After Buena Park Neighbors came out in favor on Monday, 46th Ward Zoning & Development Committee members voted 21-7 in favor of the development on Tuesday.  

The Alderman's statement is reproduced in full below:

I want to thank the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee for participating in a 3-hour meeting to discuss the 640 W. Irving Park Road proposal. Click here to view a videotaped recording of this meeting. A special thanks to Alex Wolking from Buena Park Neighbors for all the work he put into this with negotiations with the developers, his block club, and all the many neighbors who live in close proximity to this proposed site. Alex started working on this in early 2020, right before the COVID pandemic broke out.

Each zoning committee member provided a reasoning for their vote which both gave me a better understanding of the varying positions around this development along with the potential negative and positive repercussions of this proposal. 

The concerns were primarily centered on the building's height that would block other people’s views, the increased traffic, parking strains in an area that’s already clamoring for more parking, the increased number of delivery trucks navigating through Bittersweet, and the belief that additional senior housing was not needed for the area. I didn't take lightly the concerns expressed by residents who live close to this proposed site. They are the ones who would bear the brunt of the negative repercussions of this development, and I am thankful for their continued engagement, negotiations, and suggestions throughout this process. 

Other residents mentioned the benefit of a proposal that would provide the needed funds to restore the historical buildings on that site that were estimated to cost around $50M to restore. Additional benefits included the rehab of the historic theater space that would also be accessible to the community, housing that would allow area seniors to remain in the community, having 20% of the onsite units remain affordable at 60% of the Area Median Income, and how this development would allow the American Islamic College to create an endowment fund that would allow them to provide education opportunities to the Chicago Islamic community. It was also stated that if this proposal didn’t pass, another plan with a similar size high-rise would still have to be built in order to supplement the costs of the $50M needed to rehab the historic buildings on this property.

After hearing many residents weigh in on this proposal, I have decided to support this development for the following reasons:

    • I was impressed with the negotiations that took place between the community and the development team. There was a lot of give and take, with both sides scoring wins and providing concessions.
    • This proposal will provide sorely needed housing that will address the high demand we see on the Northside. More housing will help keep in check the rising rents as the supply of housing increases.
    • This proposal will address the growing demand for more senior housing, and it will allow more seniors to remain in the community as their needs increase.
    • Chicago is a city that values diversity, and the funds from the sale of this property allows the American Islamic College to continue its mission. Chicago benefits from the presence of our Islamic neighbors.
    • A Good Neighbor Agreement was created to address the concerns of some of the closest neighbors.
    • As one zoning member stated, "The property has been on the market for many years and this may easily be the last chance to save the historic landmarked buildings that are on this property." We are lucky to have so many beautiful and historically significant buildings in the 46th Ward and the risk of losing these buildings is too great if we wait much longer to restore them.
    • With a vote of 21 in favor, 7 opposed, and 3 abstaining, I agree with the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee that the benefits outweigh the negative repercussions that are also present.

As this project continues to move through the process, I will continue to work with residents to ensure that concerns about construction and operations are addressed. Next steps will involve this planned development going before the Chicago Plan Commission, then the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards, and finally to the full City Council. Thank you to everyone who has dedicated their time and energy to this in-depth process.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Ragadan to Bring Falafel, Burgers with a "Jordanian Influence", and More to Broadway

Judging by the menu (website currently under construction), Ragadan, a locally owned restaurant, will have some very interesting fare when it opens at 4409 N. Broadway this summer. We hear an experienced Chicago chef is behind the concept.

4409 N. Broadway

Formerly home to Grace's African Restaurant for many years, Ragadan will focus on falafel ("an American falafel shoppe") but will serve a range of Jordanian food with American twists. Expect "American" and "Jordan" influenced burgers, hummus plates (with kebabs), chicken sandwiches, salads, soups (ful, freekeh, and more), and desserts including baklava (and baklava milkshakes!) and basbousa.

Ragadan joins a veritable United Nations of restaurants on the same Uptown block, with Kimchi Pop (Korean), Halal Taco (Mexican/Japanese), Nigerian Kitchen and Miso Asian Kitchen (Japanese/pan-Asian) within 300 feet. It's also steps from Tattoo Factory and a short walk to the future Double Door.

We can't wait to try Ragadan when it opens and will update here as we hear more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

46th Ward Zoning & Development Committee Approves Immaculata Redevelopment


Immaculata proposal for 640 W. Irving Park

The 46th Ward Zoning & Development Committee met via Zoom this evening to discuss and vote on the Immaculata proposal, which has been debated for over 2 years and undergone multiple revisions along the way due to neighborhood feedback. 

The proposal, which seeks to add senior housing in the historic Immaculata building and a newly built tower at the center of the large complex, recently gained the support of local block club Buena Park Neighbors. We hear that, after a long discussion including voices pro- and con-, the committee voted to approve the development with a final vote of 21-6 with several abstentions.

Although the project still needs aldermanic and City Council approval, the vote in favor is an important step forward. We think the location is being put to good use, adding necessary additional senior housing/memory care for our ever-increasing aging population.

Monday, June 13, 2022

With 46th Ward Zoning Committee Vote Tuesday, Buena Park Neighbors Comes Out In Support of Immaculata Proposal

640 W. Irving Park/Immaculata Proposal

From Buena Park Neighbors block club:

"Dear Members of the Community and the Interested General Public,

Beginning in January 2020, Buena Park Neighbors Association has engaged thoughtfully and proactively with the current proposal by KGiles, LLC and CA Ventures for redeveloping the former site of Immaculata High School, currently owned by the American Islamic College, located at 640 W. Irving Park Road. Our engagement began with a community meeting, where the developer presented its proposal and made itself available for questions and feedback. In the two and a half years since then, Buena Park Neighbors has been extensively involved in collecting feedback from the community, negotiating with the developer, and facilitating communication and the dissemination of information. During that time, we understood that we would be called upon to present a final position on the proposed redevelopment, and because the site is located in our coverage area, that our position would carry significant weight. We did not and do not take that lightly.

After significant review and consideration for the best interests of Buena Park, our Executive Board has decided to vote in support of the proposed redevelopment.

In assessing the development, BPN had to consider the needs and interests of everyone in Buena Park, and decide what will most effectively promote good living by the lake. We assessed several notable downsides: the potential diminishment of quality of life for those residing closest to the site; the increase in traffic across an already congested neighborhood; and the accompanying increased strain on an already overtaxed parking infrastructure. Against these downsides, we also assessed the positives: the value of revitalizing and preserving a historic building in danger of falling into ruin; the generation of new affordable and family housing in our neighborhood; the introduction of a new wave of consumers for our many local businesses, some of which suffered dearly from the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the creation of a senior living and specialized memory-care facility, a major public good and investment in public health that could even offer a way for members of our community to age gracefully in our neighborhood.

Throughout our conversations and feedback gathering, only a small portion of our community expressed strong opinions about the proposed development. The voices we heard came predominantly, and understandably, from those residing immediately adjacent to the building. These voices frequently, though not uniformly, expressed opposition based on concerns about increased traffic, scarcity of parking, and the impact of the height of the proposed tower. The feedback we received from residents outside the immediate area trended significantly more positive, though traffic and parking concerns persisted as a cause for concern.

Ultimately, our choice is not between this development and the status quo, but rather between this development and the future. The status quo is untenable; either the land will be redeveloped or it will fall to ruin. All of the feasible options for preserving the property will present comparable challenges for traffic and parking in the neighborhood. While there have been several efforts to explore preservation and redevelopment opportunities of the Immaculata building in the past, this is the first proposal that is financially plausible, and there are no known prospects for alternatives. Though other senior housing establishments exist in the northside of Chicago, the proposed building is distinguished by the fact that the units are rentals and include memory-care support, thereby addressing a genuine public health goal. Furthermore, the new residents and caretakers will breathe much-needed economic oxygen into our commercial corridors, improving the general welfare of the entirety of Buena Park. As a final note, to the extent that the redevelopment will create new job opportunities, the developer has expressed its strong intent to hire from the local community.

This project presents real benefits to the neighborhood, approving it ensures a landmark building remains a neighborhood asset, and the few notable deficits presented by the project would likely be inevitable with any future plausible alternatives. Given that, Buena Park Neighbors Association has chosen to support this proposed redevelopment of the Immaculata high school. We encourage the other members of the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee to vote in favor.


Executive Board

Buena Park Neighbors Association"

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Gathering to Honor Life of Child Killed on Thursday

Thursday morning, the unimaginable happened at Winthrop and Leland. 

Three-year-old Elizabeth Grace Shambrook, better known as Lily Grace, died in an traffic accident involving a semi-truck, an allegedly illegally parked ComEd truck, and her mother's bicycle, on which Lily Grace was riding as a passenger.

Although there is some conflicting information (delaying our publishing of this post), it appears people will gather Sunday morning at 10:15 am in Ravenswood Manor, walking and rolling east to the site to protest for safer streets and remember and honor Lily Grace's life. The event will finish at the site of a makeshift memorial set up on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Monday, May 30, 2022

A New Uptown School Option - American Montessori Academy to Open New Location at 5050 N. Broadway

Signage has gone up at the new 
American Montessori Academy "Andersonville" location, announcing the arrival of another school option for parents in Uptown. We first heard about a school use for the space nearly two years ago, and the signage confirms the rumors.  AMA joins the Gardner School as new options for area parents.


Astute UU readers will note this location is very much a part of Uptown, but the cachet of 'Andersonville' is greater than that of 'Uptown.'

This is the second Chicago location for American Montessori, joining a location in the South Loop. There are "affiliate" schools in two suburbs.  The new school will enroll children between 9 months and 9 years.

Pre-enrollment for the inaugural school year has started and can be accessed here.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

In-Person Memorial Day Field Mass Resumes at St. Boniface Cemetery

As is its annual tradition, St. Boniface Cemetery will honor the fallen at a field mass on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th.

The last two years, the services have been virtual, but it's back, live and in person, tomorrow.

The service will begin at 10:30am. Active military and veterans will also be asked to come forward for a special blessing followed by the playing of Taps.

Although it is a Catholic Mass, all are invited to attend.

St Boniface is located at 4901 N Clark. If you attend, you may want to check out the Civil War Memorial that honors German immigrants "who took part in the defense of the new fatherland." St. Boniface opened in 1863 and was Chicago's first German Catholic cemetery.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Pho Citi & Sandwich to Replace Lotus Seed

Signage on the front of 5100 N. Broadway teases the imminent arrival of Pho Citi & Sandwich. This location has been home to some very good restaurants over the years, most recently Banh Mi Lotus Seed and Pho Lily.

We look forward to more delicious banh mi and wish the owners much success!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rendering Reveal: New Single Family Home at 4607 N. Magnolia

Days after receiving a building permit, a new post to Alderman Cappleman's development page shows what the new single family home coming to 4607 N. Magnolia will look like.

From the Alderman's newsletter:

After a few years on the market, there was no interest in purchasing a Queen Anne home located at 4607 N. Magnolia. Many interested buyers stated it was not possible to restore it as a single family home given the costs and its very poor condition, and the City of Chicago was adamant that any new owner would be required to address all the building code violations. The local block club did not want an upzone that would have allowed additional rental units built within the back of the home, so it was purchased by a family who will replace it with a new 3-story single family residence that's getting built as of right. It's anticipated the home will be completed sometime in 2024.


Sad News About Happy Life Laundromat

After the owner of Happy Wash (Wilson & Dover) retired and closed her business in 2020, we were happy to have a newcomer to Uptown, Happy Life Laundromat, fill in the gap.

Happy Life did nice work with drop-offs, helped the community (offering free washes to homeless individuals on Saturdays), and added a vibrant business to a notorious Uptown intersection (Leland & Racine).

Unfortunately, Happy Life is no more, closing abruptly on May 23rd with no advance notice to patrons.

We have spoken with the owner since learning of the closing from multiple readers. The owner confirmed the location is closed permanently and the equipment will be relocated. No other details were forthcoming as of this post.

We are all very sad every time an independent business closes, and Happy Life is a big loss. Having "eyes on the street" is very important. Given the checkered history of this intersection, we hope that another entrepreneur is willing to take over the space.

In the meantime, for those looking for a new place to do their washing, there is another coin laundry at 4552 N Magnolia, in the strip mall at the corner of Wilson and Magnolia.