Tuesday, February 19, 2008

UCC News Briefs

Positive Changes Ahead at 4715 N. Sheridan?
Larry Fischman, a developer who owns the building at 4715 N. Sheridan, has recently initiated eviction notices to all the residential tenants at the crime-plagued property. The building houses Cafe Too on the first floor. He intends to refurbish the residential units and offer the property at market-rate rents.

Changes at Salvation Army Tom Seay Center:
This location, at 1025 W. Sunnyside, will no longer serve as an overnight shelter for the homeless. The Center will continue to provide daytime support, including hot meals, literacy programs, and personal care. UCC has sent letters to both the Salvation Army and REST, a homeless shelter located at 941 W. Lawrence, expressing concern about high levels of criminal activity based on data from CAPS.

Zoning News:

-- Aldermen Mary Ann Smith (48) and Helen Shiller (46) are working on a streetscape of Broadway from Wilson to Devon. The street infrastructure near Broadway and Lawrence may be curbless to accommodate future outdoor festivals.

-- The Urban Land Institute is working with community members and elected officials on recommendations for enhancements of the Argyle Street commercial district.

-- Alderman Smith is launching a large redevelopment of the McCutcheon School campus. The school grounds will be linked to the McCormick Boys and Girls Club, providing access to amenities during school hours of operation. Additional programming will be introduced to assist the large population of homeless children at the school. Approximately 45% of the school's students are drawn from the Salvation Army family homeless shelter at Lawrence and Marine.

-- At its December meeting, UCC reviewed and approved plans for a special use permit by the North Side Federal Savings and Loan Association to build off-street parking at 1475 W. Foster Ave. The proposed parking area will accommodate up to 13 vehicles and includes green space and landscaping. UCC also approved plans for a special use permit by Robert Jeffrey Hair Salon to build a new location at 5142 N. Clark St.

Update: A few more news items that didn't make it in the UCC Newsletter:
Some news items shared by Uptown United members at a recent board meeting:
  • Truman College expects to break ground on its Student Center/Parking Deck in mid-March.
  • There is a new program focusing on opportunities for ex-offenders - operating at 4750 N. Sheridan.
  • Lawrence House has recently taken on clients of Thresholds, a psycho-social rehabilitation agency headquartered in Ravenswood.
Some news shared by Alderman Smith at the most recent 48th Ward Zoning & Planning Committee (the congress of 48th Ward constituents which review and make recommendations on all proposed zoning changes and special use permits in her ward. (Oh, to have that sort of transparency in the 46th Ward!)
Alderman Smith reports that two parties remain interested in purchasing and renovating the Uptown Theatre for use as a concert venue. A related court case is proceeding - as many parties (including the City) have liens on the property related to prior repairs. She remains optimistic that good things are to come.
Alderman Smith and the Department of Planning have been collaborating on the possibility of creating a major transit center around the Berwyn Red Line Stop. Three TIFs converge in this area, including the Lawrence/Broadway Entertainment District TIF. The current vision is to raze the structures from Foster to Berwyn along the Red Line and create a mixed-use transit-oriented complex. Included could be:
  • New indoor El stop
  • Bus turnaround facility
  • Kiss & Ride
  • Bike Station
  • O'Hare and Metra Station shuttles
  • I-Go parking
  • Day Care
  • Retail
  • Mixed-income housing
In addition, Jewel would like to raze and redevelop its site at Broadway and Berwyn. More info to follow in the months to come.


  1. 45% of the school's students come from the homeless shelter at Lawrence and Marine? Good Lord, how many women are living there? What do they have 10 kids a piece? That former Holiday Inn turned shelter is just not that big.

    Did Mary Ann allow the shelter to expand 33% to save the school from being placed on the "to be closed" list?

  2. Good luck to Fischman. He has alot of work ahead of him with the condition of that building. It probably took until now for the surrounding properties to change the market values on that street enough to justify pouring money into that pit.

  3. I'm sorry anyone has to relocate. But, did you notice that no activist groups or the press or aldermen did anything for all the renters who were evicted by the expansion of our 23rd District Police headquarters at Addison and Halsted. The apartment building just west of the existing station was taken over by the city in condemnation proceedings and all tenants were evicted. They got no sympathy.

  4. Yeah. Funny how this displacement is happening but no one is doing anything about it. If I recall, someone from that building died in the last "mini-heatwave" that we had. So, this building is clearly occupied by people who are isolated and disenfranchised and could use some help from you-know-who. Does this mean that Cafe Too will be displaced? I used to be a huge fan but now that I see that they are not trying to play fair with the larger community, I hope they spent all of that money improving the site just to have to move someplace else. Seems to me that it is poor people who get hurt in all of this.

  5. Cafe 2 will remain. I understand that they were also frustrated by the crime going on there, but one of the drug dealers in that building was a client of Inspiration Cafe.

    The door to the entrance of the apartments kept getting broken and drug dealers and prostitutes were observed frequently going in and out of that building.

  6. If people had attended the CAPS meetings they would have been informed of all the chaos that the building caused to the neighbors.

  7. "The current vision is to raze the structures from Foster to Berwyn along the Red Line and create a mixed-use transit-oriented complex. ..."

    On first blush, this sounds aweful. These are not just "structures", but going, thriving businesses and properties the owners have invested in. Now that the Alderman has telegraphed that the city might (ab)use its eminant domain power to take this land, why will these owners make further investment?

    I don't know the circumstance to the market at Broadway and Foster closing, but now it will be even harder for that property to be invested in. This plan will likely never get off the ground which means these properties will be in limbo and decay. If the city ever does execute the plan, it will likely be a boondoggle like everything else the city touches.