Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Landlord Dispute Leads To Closure of Uptown Underground

According to the Tribune, Uptown Underground (4713 North Broadway) has been closed by the landlord at the Uptown Broadway Building as of Tuesday.

Not only does it affect the beautiful space that Uptown Underground carved out of an abandoned basement, it also means that dozens of artists no longer have a venue at which to perform.

The Tribune's story says,
“Yesterday, I was served with papers from building ownership to close Uptown Underground, effective immediately,” the club’s owner, Jenn Kincaid, wrote in an email to the venue’s performers yesterday. “While that was happening, the locks on the doors were changed.”

“I have spent today pleading with the landlord to reconsider, but it is done. And so, our doors are closed. I am gutted. There was nothing else I could do.”
We will hope for the best, but right now it's looking bleak. We have heard from several of the performers who regularly appeared at Uptown Underground, and they are seeking new venues for the time being. It's a terrible blow to the Chicago theater scene.

Farewell To The Lincoln Park Pirates! (Updated)

More to come, but this is what the Trib says in breaking news....

"The Illinois Commerce Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to revoke Lincoln Towing Service’s state license, effective immediately."


We are in full agreement with Ald. Pawar when he said, "Tow truck companies need to exist. They just need to learn how to behave. And they need to do it in a way that’s not abusive or criminal."

Update: If it decides to sue, Lincoln Towing can challenge the Commission's decision in circuit court.

Update: Ald. Pawar's reaction is, "Boooooom!!!! #LincolnTowing is done! License revoked!"

Update: Here's when they've been featured on Uptown Update, and it's not even close to a complete list of what made them "special" among towing companies:
Update: WGN is reporting that Lincoln Towing will go to court and get a temporary order allowing them to still tow vehicles. In the meantime, they are still towing cars... without a license at all. We at UU hope that anyone towed by the now-unlicensed company sues them for a great deal of money.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Summer Well Spent: Uptown Youth Learn, Grow & Give Back at Christopher House

Christopher House is a wonderful resource for Uptown's families, with income-adjusted child care available for children six weeks and older, after-school programs, and family counseling and programming as well. Here is what some of its students did to give back to Chicago over the summer:

"For many Uptown youth, summer was spent at various camps, playing at Clarendon Park and Aster Playlot, grabbing ice cream from the Broadway Baskin-Robbins, and running around the neighborhood throughout the all-too-short season. For those who also attend Christopher House (4701 N Winthrop), summer was not only fun-filled but also focused on experiential learning, community service and leadership development.

In mid-June, Christopher House kicked off its full-day After School program with a total of 32 Uptown kids and teens. Designed to maximize the summer months, the annual program features a hands-on curriculum comprised of unique themes for each day that provide well-rounded learning experiences while helping to mitigate the summer slide for students while school is out.

Our “Art Mondays” allowed kids to express creativity with their own work and visit local museum exhibits to learn about art appreciation while “Total Wellness Tuesdays” helped them understand healthy lifestyle choices in terms of emotion and stress management, nutritious diet, and physical fitness.

Youth also participated in “Wisdom Wednesdays” where activities such as discussions on current events and workshops on leadership styles and conflict resolution helped to develop valuable life skills. With this, the students had several opportunities to take part in a wide range of enriching and educational experiences.

“Christopher House takes an innovative approach to education year-round, and summer is no exception,” said Erika Alcibar, Associate Director of School Age and Youth Development at Christopher House’s Uptown site. “Our goal is to provide a productive learning experience that not only engages students to avoid the summer slide and keep them on track for the next school year, but also exposes them to exciting new opportunities and experiences around Chicago and beyond. We have the opportunity to partner with incredible students and families, and summer is yet another chance for us to help them succeed in school, the workplace and life.”

The After School program also exposes Christopher House students to the benefits of service learning and the importance of civic responsibility on both a local and global level.

Earlier this summer, the youth themselves determined an area of need they wished to focus their efforts on. Feeling most drawn to homelessness and hunger, the students planned and executed a food drive and volunteered at a neighborhood food pantry where they served meals to the homeless.

Similarly, the students also selected a project to help those in need beyond Chicago. This year’s summer program participants chose to organize a coin drive fundraising effort with the goal of raising enough money to sponsor the delivery of a dairy goat to three Haitian families, allowing them the opportunity for general education, financial independence, food security, and upward mobility.

“We were really excited to be able to help the three families in Haiti this summer,” said Dennis K., a 14-year old student at Christopher House in Uptown. “I didn’t realize that we could have this big of an impact from so far away, and I feel good about doing what I can to help them.”

For more information about Christopher House and its unique approach to closing the opportunity gap by helping low-income, at-risk families succeed in school, the workplace, and life, visit"

Celebrate The High Holidays On Monday At The Lakefront

The Facebook event page is here.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Early Riser

The construction at the midrise building at Wilson and Sheridan is going quickly. The mixed-use residential rental/retail has reached the sixth floor, on its way to 12. Construction began on the former Burger King/El Pollo Loco site in mid-July.

Thank you to Ryan Brevard for the aerial shot.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Former Man's Country Buildings Back On The Market

The condo building that was planned for the site of the former Man's Country bathhouse is off the table.

WFCW Block Club posted on its Facebook page that the developer has listed the site for sale.

Man's Country closed on New Year's Eve and the estate of Chuck Renslow sold the buildings to Quest Realty on January 22, 2018.

Plans were announced to build a nine-unit condo building named The Renslow, as a tribute to gay pioneer and Man's Country owner Chuck Renslow.

However, the developer and the neighbors could not reach an agreement on the design of the new building, and Quest Realty listed it for sale in August. The buildings, located at 5015-5023 North Clark, are located in the 47th Ward.

Time will tell what the next owner's plans are. Stay tuned!

Someone's Knocking At The Door, Somebody's Ringing The Bell

We cannot stress this enough: Don't let people you don't know into your building.

In the past few days, we have heard of three incidents of multi-unit buildings being entered by people who stand at the locked gates and ring every doorbell until someone buzzes them in.

Uptown is being swarmed by the aggressive "alternate energy" salespeople who gain entry as a group and pound on every door. Often, they refuse to leave when asked and police must be called and trespassing complaints signed.

Now there's another group using the same tactics: people seeking signatures on political nominating petitions. Same technique of standing outside and ringing multiple doorbells until someone lets them in, then going door to door and seeking signatures.

So who are you buzzing in?
  • It may be a volunteer seeking to get a candidate on the ballot.
  • Or it may be a package thief.
  • Or it may be someone pounding on doors who wants a look at your energy bill.
  • Or it may be a burglar checking out who's home, and who's not.
A gate and security system are only as good as the people who live inside the building. Why subject your neighbors (and yourself) to people you don't know making the rounds?

Green Mill Adds Some Blues

What's the logical new next-door neighbor to the most legendary jazz club in the city?

How about some blues to go with the Green Mill's jazz?

For months, rumors have swirled that the Green Mill's long-time owner Dave Jemilo is opening up a blues club in the former Crew storefront one door north of his little gem at 4802 North Broadway.

This week public notices were mailed to neighbors regarding "Club Della Robbia" at 4804 North Broadway, about the application for an on-premises liquor license and PPA (Public Place of Amusement) license. One of the two principals of the Club Della Robbia is Dave Jemilo.

The name is a wink back to a century ago. "When it opened in June 1914, Green Mill Gardens was one of the most elegant night spots in all of Chicago. Its elegant Della Robbia dining room offered patrons nightly cabaret performances while its 2,500-seat outdoor sunken gardens hosted band concerts during the summer months," according to Jazz Age Chicago.

In keeping with its namesake, Club Della Robbia will serve food, unlike the Green Mill.

We don't know when it will open, or much more about it, but ... stay (ahem) tuned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

14-Year-Old Uptown Girl Missing

Vesta Nyamkye, age 14, has been reported as missing from the area of Montrose and Clarendon.

She was last seen Tuesday at Irving Park and Ashland, wearing a red shirt and a grey sweater.

She is 5'3", 110 lbs, and is dark-complected with brown eyes and black hair.

If you know anything about her whereabouts or can help the police in their search, please call the Area North Special Victims Unit at 312-744-8266.

CAPS Beat 1913 Meets Tuesday Night in Sheridan Park

The CAPS meeting for Beat 1913 is Tuesday, September 3rd, at 6:30pm. It takes place at Courtenay School, at Beacon and Montrose.

Beat 1913 encompasses Sheridan Park. Its boundaries are Broadway, Montrose, Clark, and Lawrence.

If you are concerned about crime in your community, and want to talk to the beat officers and CAPS officers about what is going on, this is the best place to do it. If you have a concern that you'd rather not voice publicly, you can speak to an officer after the meeting.

A complete listing of all Uptown's CAPS beat meetings and schedules is available here.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Buena Park Condo Building The Latest Deconversion From Condos To Apartments

A 34-unit condo building in Buena Park is the latest Uptown residence to undergo deconversion, the process in which a single developer buys all or most of the units in a building and converts them into rentals.

The building at 744 West Gordon Terrace is four stories tall, and was bought in August for $8.2 million. The units are a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms. It was built in 1974. The deal broker, Interra Realty, says that all the condos have in-unit washer/dryers, and the building has private outdoor space and a heated underground parking garage.

Deconversions are happening all over the city in areas where there is a demand for rentals. One market analyst estimates that there have been 2,000 units converted since late 2016, at an estimated price of $437million. A quick Google search shows deconversion sales in Evanston, Rogers Park, Albany Park, Edgewater, Old Town, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and the Gold Coast.

In Uptown, there have been more than a few, including 921 West Sunnyside, 4630 North Beacon, and 732 West Bittersweet. According to Joe Smazal, managing partner of Interra, deconversions make sense because "the creative deal structure allows investors to acquire a large number of units in areas of high rental demand with a limited supply of available apartments. A bulk deconversion sale also offers condo owners a premium sale price above what they could achieve by selling their units individually."

According to Interra, the unit owners at 744 Gordon Terrace sold their units for prices approximately 50% higher than they would have gotten if they had sold them individually.