Monday, March 18, 2019

Uptown Update Endorses Ald. James Cappleman In April 2nd Aldermanic Runoff

Uptown Update has been in existence for 12 years. As we note in the sidebar, we are a group of long-time neighborhood residents who work collaboratively to inform the Uptown community about local events and issues. We are not paid to do what we do. We do this for the love of Chicago and Uptown in particular.

In the 12 years of Uptown Update, we have never made a formal political endorsement. However, the authors of Uptown Update all agree that we enthusiastically endorse James Cappleman in the upcoming 46th Ward aldermanic runoff on April 2nd.

As a group, we've lived in Uptown for decades, and we've never seen this level of excitement and change before. What James Cappleman has done for the neighborhood in his eight years in office has been nothing short of transformational.

Take the much-discussed Uptown Entertainment District. It was always a "nice idea," but nothing ever happened to make it a reality. Under James Cappleman's leadership, that's all changed. The crown jewel, of course, is the rebirth of the glorious and dilapidated Uptown Theatre.

a sketch of the theater
from 1926
One of Ald. Cappleman's original campaign promises was to reopen the Uptown, and he has worked tirelessly since his election in 2011 to make it happen. $75 million just didn't fall out of the sky. The deal announced last summer was years in the making. If all goes as planned (and it has so far), renovation work will begin this summer, and soon, Uptowners old (us) and new (Marianne Lalonde) will once again have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the country's largest free-standing theater.

And the Entertainment District doesn't stop there. Alongside the Riviera and the Aragon, Ald. Cappleman has successfully recruited the owners of other businesses who are making their way to Uptown to resurrect the neighborhood's historical legacy as a hub of Chicago nightlife:

Club Della Robbia is coming soon as the "sister club" next door to the Green Mill. The world-famous Double Door will be resurrected at the long-empty former Wilson Avenue Theater (which we all remember as a closed bank branch). The legendary Baton Show Lounge just relocated to Uptown after 50 years downtown. Carol's Pub is back from the dead with new owners and an impressive nightly music line-up. Nick's on Wilson has reopened and is thriving. And don't forget the new streetscape on Broadway, capped by the new pedestrian plaza at the Riviera that's in the final stages of completion.

What else? Ald. Cappleman made the Wilson Red Line station his top priority when he took office nearly eight years ago. At that point, it had been voted the CTA's "Crustiest Station," a.k.a. the worst in the entire CTA system, for three consecutive years. Long-time commuters remember the non-ADA-compliant staircases, the collapsed station ceiling, decrepit platforms, empty retail spaces, and the highest crime rate of any CTA station on the North Side.

After Ald. Cappleman worked with the CTA and the Obama administration to secure funds, 2015 brought a massive overhaul that included demolition of the old station and the long-disused "Wilson Yard" rail lines. A complete rebuild of the tracks followed, with a new station that debuted in 2017.

Uptown now has an ADA-compliant L stop that's modern and airy, as well as heavily used new access to Purple Line Express trains and an auxiliary exit at Sunnyside that provides quick access to Aldi and Target for commuters across the city. The Wilson Station has gone from "crustiest" to "nicest" in the system under Ald. Cappleman's leadership, and it features artwork from world-renowned artist Cecil Balmond to boot (look up when you walk in!).

Across the street, the "old" station house, known as the Gerber Building, was painstakingly restored to its lush 1923 beauty. Chicago Market, a customer-owned cooperative supermarket, is set to move in next year. The Gerber Building was in terrible disrepair inside and out before the rehabilitation, but this jewel of Chicago architecture has been preserved for generations to come.

Long-time Chicagoans will remember the other "joys" of the old station, including the light-blocking dual overhead tracks and 23 driving-lane support pillars that made Broadway and Leland dark and dangerous for pedestrians -- as well as frightening for drivers. Those are now gone, thanks to the Wilson Station rehab, making the entire area modern, open, and much safer for all Uptown residents.

click to enlarge
One of the things that we love most about Uptown's current direction is that the neighborhood is finally becoming a destination for people from around the City. Under Ald. Cappleman's leadership, development is underway all over the 46th Ward.

For the first time we can remember, the "Montrose Divide" has been breached. Builders who flatly refused to invest in real estate north of Montrose are now snapping up empty lots, replacing dead zones with housing (both market-rate and subsidized) and retail. Along the way, developers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, which enables 375 Uptown families to remain here by assisting with all or part of their rents.

As an example, Maryville's acres stood empty for years, with abandoned and crumbling buildings, while the owners tried for over a decade to sell it. Now, 811 Uptown serves as a beautiful new gateway to Uptown along Montrose.

There has been repeated criticism of the use of TIF funds that helped finally get the sale done. What most people don't realize is that the Lawrence/Montrose TIF was created by the previous alderman, Helen Shiller. The original plan, orchestrated by then-alderman Shiller and Sedgwick Properties in 2010, called for a $50-million TIF, and a three-tower complex with 850 units. Ald. Cappleman whittled the TIF amount down to $14 million, and oversaw a final plan that created a building that is far more proportional to the community, along with a guarantee of funds to rehabilitate Clarendon Park's dilapidated fieldhouse.

We are within two years of seeing either a completely rehabbed or rebuilt Clarendon Park Fieldhouse that will serve the community for decades to come. There have been two community meetings held so far, taking community feedback into account before deciding on the final plan.

A few notes about Uptown, development, and developers before we continue:
  • It is illegal for an alderman to interfere in any way with a private real estate sale. If a property is privately owned, does not receive government funding, and the sale is in compliance with city ordinances, the alderman cannot prevent a sale from taking place. There are some who claim that Ald. Cappleman should have stopped the sales of Lawrence House or the Wilson Men's Hotel. But it was the decision of the owners to sell those properties, and the sales were done in full compliance with City of Chicago ordinances. Jay Bomberg made the decision to sell the Men's Hotel. The Lawrence House was in foreclosure and under the control of a court-appointed receiver for the Minetti family. Affordable housing providers had an opportunity to purchase and rehab both buildings, yet chose not to.
  • Even Uptown's not-for-profits are cashing in: Cornerstone Community Outreach sold its Leland House to a private for-profit developer. The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sold their Maryville campus to JDL and Harlem Irving Cos. Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois sold its Chicago Uptown Ministries building in order to fund its other programs. And who can blame them? Why not use Uptown's booming retail scene to benefit their ongoing good works? A rising tide lifts all boats.
  • It works going the other direction as well. For example, Presbyterian Homes had planned to evict seniors from three buildings it owned, including one in the 46th Ward, then sell the buildings to market-rate developers. Ald. Cappleman, with other concerned elected officials, persuaded CHA to buy the buildings, thereby ensuring that they would remain affordable and no evictions would take place. Further, Ald. Cappleman gave public support along with ensuring financing and zoning assistance for the sale of the vintage building at Sheridan and Leland to the David and Reva Logan Foundation for the benefit of Sarah's Circle. That sale, which preempted a sale to a private developer, will create a new permanent home for Sarah's Circle clientele.
  • Each new building going up in the 46th Ward must create affordable housing. Since the vast majority of them are being built on empty or non-residential lots, each new development means that new affordable housing is being created, either onsite or elsewhere in Chicago. And that's a good thing.
click to enlarge
There is no doubt that Chicago needs more affordable housing options than it currently has. But as much as affordable housing advocates wish it to be so, Uptown cannot be a focus of government-subsidized affordable housing, as CHA and IDHA will no longer fund low-income housing in most parts of Uptown due to oversaturation. Uptown has more subsidized HUD units than any other community in the entire city, with 2,750 units. By comparison, our neighbors in Lincoln Square have zero, and North Center has 99..

Which leads us to our next thought - wouldn't it be nice if every community in the city participated equally in providing housing affordable to those who most need it? Ald. Cappleman, in his newly-minted capacity as Chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee, has worked to do just that. In response to his demand, Sterling Bay, the developer of Lincoln Park's Lincoln Yards project, doubled the number of affordable units, from the required 300 units to 600 units.

That's the kind of thing we'd like to see more of, all across the city, and we believe it will happen if Ald. Cappleman retains his position as committee chair. Aldermanic prerogative has, for far too long, allowed communities to turn away their fair share of affordable housing. Ald. Cappleman has said many times that he's against this practice. We've already seen how effective he can be in that role, and we look forward to another four years of his stewardship of that committee in partnership with either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle.

from Sarah's Circle's website about the new building
Some residents have lived in this neighborhood for decades. James Cappleman has been actively involved in 46th Ward politics and public service for roughly twenty years. His opponent in the runoff, Marianne Lalonde, has lived in Uptown for three years, and certainly does not know Uptown the way that we, and many other residents, do.

Ms. Lalonde has a modest record of community involvement -- for example, she is on the associates board of Sarah's Circle (and no doubt appreciates the work that Ald. Cappleman did to facilitate the new shelter at Sheridan and Leland). She is also a first-term president of her block club, Lakeside Neighbors. But that's the extent of her elected experience. She hasn't lived here long at all, and she hasn't lived here for even half of James Cappleman's transformative tenure as alderman.

Ms. Lalonde has been as pugilistic as she possibly can in her campaign to unseat Ald. Cappleman. Her attendance and participation in a recent protest march outside Ald. Cappleman's home -- one where her fellow protesters (the majority of whom were not Uptown residents) pounded drums and chanted "Cappleman's a racist!" to oppose the proposed new police and fire academy -- was extremely disappointing.

We expect more circumspection and frankly, basic decency, from someone who hopes to represent all members of this community. Trespassing on private property, chanting highly charged and inflammatory accusations, and disturbing the peace isn't the kind of behavior we want to associate with those representing us, yet Ms. Lalonde was there, standing alongside and ensuring her 'visibility' as a candidate.

Political posturing aside, we believe Ms. Lalonde clearly lacks the knowledge of Uptown or the breadth of experience that James Cappleman brings to his office. Maybe in time, as she spends more time in the Ward and becomes a more active participant in neighborhood activities, she might have what it takes to become a successful alderman. But that time is not now.

(And, given the record of Ald. Cappleman's runoff challengers in 2011 and 2015, there is no guarantee that Ms. Lalonde will still be living in the Ward by the time the next city election rolls around in 2023).

Although we have occasional disagreements behind the scenes, the group that works the 'news desk' at Uptown Update is unanimous in its desire to see Uptown continue to thrive. For the first time in our many years here, Uptown is not only keeping up with its surrounding communities, it is finally leading the way.

And we hope that you, like us, want to see what's next, after a new L station, a new entertainment district, and the restoration of a world-famous theater that nearly everyone had given up on.

Like us, do you care enough about the creation of more affordable housing all over the city to vote for someone who can make it happen as Chairman of the Zoning and Development Committee?

If you, like us, want to see these things through, we suggest you vote for the candidate with a proven track record of success in Uptown and elsewhere. The last eight years have been measured by success after success, and we will all be voting for James Cappleman for another four year term. We urge you to, as well.

The Uptown Update Team

Early Voting Is ON For City Runoff Elections - Choose Your Polling Place!

Early voting for the run-off portion of the city elections has come to the neighborhoods! From now through Monday, April 1st, you can vote at any early voting polling place in the city. 

It should just take a couple minutes to vote: the only offices on the ballot are Mayor, City Treasurer, and Alderman (48th Ward voters don't have an aldermanic run-off, but 46th and 48th Ward voters do).

The list of all polling places is here. The ones closest to Uptown are
  • Truman College (1145 West Wilson)
  • Welles Park (2333 West Sunnyside)
  • Edgewater Branch Library (6000 North Broadway)
  • District 19 Police Station (850 West Addison). Please note that voting is not available this election at the Merlo Library.
For downtown workers, you can vote at the Loop Super Site (175 West Washington) or the Museum of Broadcast Communications (360 North State).

Early voting hours are:
  • Monday, March 18 - Saturday, March 23: 9am-5pm
  • Sunday, March 24: 10am-4pm
  • Monday, March 25 - Friday, March 29: 9am-7pm 
  • Saturday, March 30: 9am-5pm
  • Sunday, March 31: 10am-4pm
  • Monday, April 1: 9am-5pm (seven sites, including Welles Park, will be open until 7pm)
But wait, there's more!
If you want to vote by mail, your request must be received by March 28th (but the Board of Elections strongly suggests submitting your request earlier.). Instructions are here.

If you aren't registered to vote, you can register and vote at the same time. Be sure to bring two forms of ID, one of which must show your current address.

If you want to go old school and vote on Election Day (Tuesday, April 2nd), you must vote in your precinct. Polls will be open from 6am until 7pm. You can make sure you're registered here, and check your polling place too.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

CAPS Meeting For Beat 1912 Is Tuesday At Sulzer Library

The CAPS meeting for Beat 1912 is Tuesday, March 19th, at 7pm. It takes place at the Sulzer Library, 4455 N Lincoln.  The beat's boundaries are Lawrence, Clark, Irving Park, and Damen, which puts it just west of our coverage area, but it is still technically part of Uptown.

The meetings take place on the third Tuesday of odd-numbered months, and are combined with Beat 1911.

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.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sarah's Circle Gets Closer to New Building On Sheridan

The city released a statement on Wednesday with news about housing being developed for Sarah's Circle, which will allow its clients to move out of rented space in the ICA Building (4750 North Sheridan) and into a new building that Sarah's Circle will own at Sheridan and Leland. The other location owned by Sarah's Circle at 4838 North Sheridan will not change or be affected.

"TIF Would Enable 38-Unit Supportive Housing Development In Uptown

A 38-unit supportive housing facility would be built in Uptown through a $3.5 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposal introduced today to City Council by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The $17.5 million project on the southwest corner of Sheridan Road and Leland Avenue would be developed by Sarah’s on Sheridan LLC and feature a kitchen, dining and laundry facilities, computer lab, and case management and support staff.

All of the units in the six-story complex would receive rental assistance from the Chicago Housing Authority and be affordable for tenants earning up to 60 percent of area median income. The facility would also include a 50-bed interim housing shelter that would provide temporary housing, food, and other basic supportive services for people in need.

Additional funding would come from private donations."

Uptown Theatre Restoration Plans Clear Another Hurdle

The press conference in the theater's lobby on June 28, 2018, when the happy news was announced by Ald. Cappleman and Mayor Emanuel that the Uptown Theatre would be restored

The Uptown Theatre easily passed yet another hurdle on Wednesday at the City Council meeting. With the red tape melting away like icicles in July, it looks hopeful that the grand old theater will begin its long-awaited rehabilitation and restoration late this summer, as planned.

Ald. Cappleman tweeted:
"Had full City Council support today authorizing DPD to enter into and execute a Redevelopment Agreement with the Uptown Theatre owner. We are on our way to creating more jobs and economic development for the Entertainment District!"
The City released its own statement, saying:
"City Incentives Approved For Two Theater Restoration Projects 
The rehabilitation of the historic Uptown Theatre in Uptown and the Congress Theater in Logan Square will be supported through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance approved today by City Council. 
Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway: The $75 million project by Jam Productions and Fairpoint Development will be assisted with up to $13 million in TIF to help pay for comprehensive restoration work involving decorative interior finishes, new seats, a reconfigured main floor to increase capacity to 5,800 people, new elevators, modern concession facilities, updated mechanical systems, and exterior improvements that will include new marquees. 
Additional City support will include a Class L property tax incentive valued at $2.2 million over 12 years; $3 million in Adopt-a-Landmark Funds; and the sale of a City-owned parking lots at 1130 W. Lawrence Ave. to the development team for $1. 
The theater, designed by architects Rapp and Rapp for operator Balaban and Katz Corp., was used for stage shows, movies and concerts before it closed in 1981. It was designated a Chicago landmark in 1991. The project is expected to generate up to 195 full-and part-time jobs and more than 200 construction jobs."
(The TIF funds will be generated by the Lawrence/Broadway TIF, which was created in 2001 by then-aldermen Mary Ann Smith and Helen Shiller for the purpose of creating new parking, housing, and retail; and "the promotion of the Broadway-Lawrence intersection as a center for entertainment and performing arts.". In the past, its funds have gone to restore the Heartland Alliance building at 1201-13 Leland, to create the Gunnison Lofts (did you know that Fat Cat used to be an abandoned mattress store?), to restore the Uptown Broadway Building, and to restore the "Goldblatt's Building," now home to Huntington Bank and First Ascent.)

46th Ward Aldermanic Run-Off Forum On Thursday, March 21st

Hosted by Uptown United and Business Partners - The Chamber for Uptown
Moderated by WBEZ Political Reporter Becky Vevea

Join us to hear from the two candidates in the run-off election for Alderman of the 46th Ward about issues facing the ward and the City. All candidates confirmed their attendance at this forum. Please arrive early, as seating is limited. Doors open at 6:00pm.

  • James Cappleman
  • Marianne Lalonde

If you would like to propose a question to be asked at the forum, go here:

Questions must be submitted by noon (12:00 p.m.) on Monday, March 18th.

Celebrate Purim With Chabad of Uptown

From Chabad of Uptown:

The Facebook event page is here.

Teen "Glow Skate" At Margate Park Friday Night

"Calling all teens!

Join us at Margate Park for indoor Roller Skating... glow-in-the-dark style!

We do have skates, but a limited number, so if you have your own, please bring them!"

Margate Park Fieldhouse is located at 4921 North Marine Drive, with metered limited parking in the rear.

Skating takes place on Friday, March 15th, 7pm to 9pm. Free! The event is for teenagers.

Photo courtesy of Aurora Skate Center.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

March With Harry O'Sterman On Saturday In The St. Patrick's Day Parade

From Ald. Harry Osterman:

"Please join me in marching in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, on Saturday, March 16, 2019. 

Fellow marchers are meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the Broadway Armory Park, located at 5917 N. Broadway St. to pick up marching t-shirts and enjoy light refreshments.  At 11:00 a.m., we will be boarding buses to go downtown to march in the parade and we will  return back to the Armory at approximately 2:30 p.m. 

If you cannot join us for the trip downtown, but would still like to march, meet us at our float on the west side of Columbus Dr. between Balbo and Roosevelt by 12:00 p.m..

After the parade, we will return to the Broadway Armory and stop by a local establishment for a post parade celebration.  We will provide more details on the plan after the parade early next week.

I  hope you are able to join us for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and party.  If you have any questions, or would like to RSVP, please email me at or call 847-736-1951.  I hope you can join us!"

Friday, March 8, 2019

Time To Spring Forward

Daylight Saving Time returns this weekend (2am Sunday, to be exact), so set your clocks to spring forward.

One less hour of sleep, never much fun if you have a kid or pet who's firmly tied to a 24-hour schedule.

On the flip side, it means that evening light will last until at least 6:30 next week, and we're really sick of winter, so we'll take what we can.

Ald. Cappleman Votes No, But City Council's Zoning Committee Says Yes To Lincoln Yards

Ald. Cappleman has been all over the news lately -- not about the 46th Ward, but about a community that doesn't even exist yet.

As new chair of the City Council's powerful Zoning Committee, he's been active in shaping the plan for Lincoln Yards, the massive 55-acre development proposed for the North Side. (It's located near the river, at approximately Armitage and Clybourn, untilizing mostly abandoned industrial land.)

First, he requested, and got, developer Sterling Bay to agree to double the number of on-site affordable housing units, from the required number, 300, to 600.

Then, yesterday the Zoning Committee was set to vote on final approval of the plan. Both mayoral run-off candidates, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, had asked Ald. Cappleman to delay the vote until after the mayoral election. Citing those requests, as well as new tweaks to the plan made just two days earlier regarding building height and density, Ald. Cappleman moved to delay the vote.

But other members of the committee, led by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), voted to override Ald. Cappleman's attempt to defer the vote.

In the end, the Zoning Committee approved the plan for Lincoln Yards despite Ald. Cappleman's "no" vote.  Ald. Cappleman was joined by Alds. George Cardenas (12th Ward), Deb Mell (33rd Ward), and Ameya Pawar (47th Ward).

The "yes" votes, which carried the day, were cast by Alds. Michelle Harris (8th); Raymond Lopez (15th), David Moore (17th); Matt O’Shea (19th); Howard Brookins (21st); Walter Burnett (27th); Carrie Austin (34th); Margaret Laurino (39th), and Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Of course, this being silly season, a/k/a election time, there were statements criticizing Cappleman after the meeting, made by people who wanted him to do exactly what he'd just done: demand more on-site affordable housing, and request a delayed vote.

The next hurdle for Lincoln Yards will come on Monday in front the 35-member Finance Committee, where TIF approval will be sought. The only Uptown connection there is the presence of Ald. Osterman on the committee.

Other articles:

Chicago Vintage Clothing & Jewelry Show Is Happening Today and Saturday

It's been too long since the last vintage goods market. Vintage Garage last brought the retro, the wacky, the unusual, and the fun to Uptown last October.

Lovers of vintage, fear not! Relief is coming!

Today and Saturday, March 8 and 9, the same people who have been bringing the city's only all-vintage flea market to Uptown for the past seven years will present The Chicago Vintage Clothing & Jewelry Show, right next door in Edgewater.

Vendors at the show will bring their best vintage apparel and accessories, textiles, shoes, hats, and more designer goods than you've ever seen!

Plus, you'll have the chance to hear from the legendary Tinseltown costume designers at Joseff of Hollywood, who will be doing a seminar Friday night and displaying vintage jewelry the company supplied to movies like Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz.

The show takes place at St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church, 5649 N. Sheridan. The bus stops right at the door. The show hours are 3pm to 8pm on Friday,  March 8; and 10am to 5pm on Saturday, March 9.

Admission prics are:

  • $8 for both days (regular admission)
  • $20 for both days (including the Joseff of Hollywood presentation)
  • $30 for both days (including early admission at 2pm on Friday)
  • Click here to buy in advance.

St. Andrew's will provide delicious concessions at low prices, so come hungry.

Vintage Garage is taking 2019 off, and the next Vintage Clothing & Jewelry Show isn't unril October, so if you've been craving your vintage fix, this is the weekend!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Celebrate The Grand Opening Of 'The Synagogue' By FLATS

(click to enlarge)
Be among the first to see the newest iteration of the former Agudas Achim Congregation, now transformed into residences.

RSVP at this Eventbrite link

UU Note: For those who are not familiar with Agudas Achim, the synagogue has been deconsecrated and closed since 2008. The synagogue board made the decision to put the building up for sale in 2012.

It was - like the Uptown Theatre - both magnificent and decrepit. There was a hole in the roof, causing great damage to the interior, and pigeons had taken up residence.

The historic items that have been removed have been placed with other synagogues and/or are being held for safekeeping by Preservation Chicago.