Monday, March 10, 2008

3 (Blocks) ... 2 (Wards) ... 1 (Retail Corridor)

A reader comments:

If you have any doubt about how much influence an alderman has on creating good decent vibrant retail streets--walk to the corner of Broadway and Leland. Broadway and Leland is the four-corners dividing line between the 46 & 48 wards. North: 48 ward. South: 46 ward.

So here's a three-block stroll down Broadway, from Gunnison to to the Wilson el stop.

Can you tell where the line is between the 46th and 48th Wards? And how much influence an alderman has on the quality and quantity of the retail in each ward?


  1. You also have to give the developers/owners some responsibility too.

    The people who own the building that has the "First Lao Grocery" sign KICKED OUT successful businesses like the Uptown Snack Shop, so they could make "upgrade" to be like the 48th.

    Had they left the businesses alone , they might have had some income until they had completed their condos.

    Instead they took out a piece of the neighborhood for no reason. That building ain't Shiller's fault.

  2. Every building in this ward is Shiller's responsibility.

    Maybe the fact that it's empty isn't due to her incompetence, but the fact that it STAYS empty definitely is.

  3. That's one building. What about the rest of Uptown?

    Great neighborhoods need streetscaping, good lighting, bright welcoming storefronts that create vibrant retail streets to encourage people to come out and enjoy the shops, outdoor cafes, entertainment.

    The retail and entertainment is really happening along Broadway in the 48 ward and comes to a screeching halt the moment you cross into the 46 ward.


  4. I just don't understand how Schiller got re-elected.

  5. A couple of things. I can't look at the pictures of the Borders without remembering how many people in the neighborhood were against it. 2nd the 48th Alderman is a huge TIF fan and if you want to end TIF abuse you might want to start there. Bryn Mawr is an ugly stretch of road and it will take 10 years to put a diner(nookies) in place.

  6. How did Shiller get reelected, you ask.

    She got more votes.

    Da Mare's support and hundreds of thousands in campaign spending helped too.

  7. I can't remember 1 person being against Border's coming to the neighborhood.

  8. The usual suspects (Couraj, JPUSA, etc.) demonstrated against the restoration, saying it would be tearing down an historically important building and basically ruining Uptown.

    Although one of the buildings in the "Borders Building" did have to be torn down to make room for parking, it was heavily damaged by several fires that had happened in it during the time it was vacant.

    IMO, the architects who restored the main Borders building, taking it back to its original turn of the century appearance, did such a magnificent job that it pretty much made up for losing the fire-damaged former hotel building.

    To my mind, that building was a tipping point for Uptown's progress.

  9. This is JPUSA's take on why Borders would ruin Uptown:

    This is what Borders looked like before. Seems like it would fit in just fine with the 46th Ward photos!

  10. Anon 11:39, if you can't remember people being against it then you didn't attend this city counsel hearing on the measure. There were a ton of people against it. Some fought against it for JPUSA's reasons, others didn't want to see TIF money go to a national chain. Helen Shiller gave an extended speech about why it should come and it obviously passed in the end. Now, Borders is looking to close stores and the Uptown location and the Lincoln Park locations are being considered.

  11. I just sent the following email to Alderman Shiller's email address based on this post. She won't answer me. She never does. But I though I'd share it with you all. At least someone will read it.

    As a new resident in the 46th ward, I've begun getting interested and involved in the local neighborhood and with that, its politics. In reading a website today, I came across an interesting photo article about our ward. Please find a copy of it attached.

    What is most troubling about the attached document is, really, its truth. As a resident, I'm often baffled at the upkeep in and around the Broadway and Wilson area. But more confusing is the local government's clear disinterest in improving it.

    It is no more obvious than when one crosses Leland on Broadway and sees a world of change. Why is it, that as Alderman, you care so little about the needs and interests of those that you represent? I understand that change takes time. And I also understand the implications of gentrification in cities. I am not asking you to remove the homeless or the less fortunate. I have no problems with sharing a living area with them. My problem comes in when I look around and see no viable commerce in our area. And absolutely no attempt to bring it in. We need to feel safe and secure in our neighborhood and that we have places to walk to. You have, it appears, little interest in providing your residents with either.

    As a new resident, I want to support our neighborhood and its representation. But you, Alderman Shiller, don't seem to think that me, my family, or more importantly, our vote, matter. From your statements, to your website, you seem only concerned with defending a stance that you've held for nearly 20 years. The poor and homeless have a place in the 46th ward. And others who live there don't matter to you. And in stead of bettering your ward, you seem to only be interested in providing more for them - almost, it appears, just to prove your point. Well, that pendulum is swinging, Alderman, and soon enough there will be enough of us in the area to finally vote you out of office. So do something! Do something that shows the other half of us that we matter to you too.

    I welcome your response.

  12. More on the big "controversy" over retail and condos coming to Uptown at the Borders site:

    Mixed feelings in Uptown about condo borders plan

    Uptown Goldblatt's rally for affordable housing

    Proposed Borders bookstore arouses controversy

    All I can say it, thank goodness that piece of Uptown is zoned as part of the 48th Ward.

    It's bad enough that Ald. Shiller is (mis)using TIF funds earmarked for erasing blight in Wilson Yard to create more of it down the street from Borders.

    Gee. Agami, Borders, condos, Marigold, Annoyance Theatre, Crew, Fat Cat, the Green Mill, the restoration of the old Loren Miller building (Borders) and the restoration of the Uptown Broadway Building, all happening with TIF funds in Uptown.

    It's really a shame the 48th Ward is going to hell in a handbasket, isn't it?

  13. Yes, there were the usual suspects against converting the old Goldblatt's building and some preservationists and architects that often go against the Alderman. Like many issues in this neighborhood, things aren't so black and white. Shiller supported the project because she made sure the developer was required to give money to another project near and dear to her heart -- a "social services" program to house addicts across the street. Oh, and O.N.E got a nice new office out of the deal in the same building.
    Yes, the building was damaged by fire, but after the very lively hearing mentioned above. And by after, I mean just hours after. I'll never forget returning home that night, after spending hours in council chambers while every screamed at each other. Turning the corner on Leland from Clark, and nothing but flashing lights as far as the eye can see....

  14. Another situation where the community was burned. Heartland Alliance promised to do drug screening for their clients at the 1207 Leland Building. We didn't realize until later that their program houses the mentally ill with drug addictions. The purpose of the drug screening was to help them qualify to live there.

    I say the social services in Uptown have a long ways to earn our trust. If they could just be good neighbors like social services are in other wards.

  15. The problem is that no one is holding them accountable. They shoehorn things in here that they can't get accomplished elsewhere. That is because there truly is a lack of affordable housing in the city and because it is hard to locate new programs in new spaces politically. So, they say the population exists here (and a % of it does) and they have a sympathetic Alderman who will allow it here. At some point, the fact that this is very valuable lakefront land will smack hard against their efforts to concentrate things here. One might interpret all that is happening now as building barracades for the tipping point. I truly wanted to live in a place where there was a place for everyone. Unfortunately, Shiller and her cronies show over and over again how they can't be trusted. When you are always playing catch up to their tactics, you almost have to take a hard line position on everything because there is no time to work for compromise. Since they are in power, they have set the rules of this game. Winner takes all but the urban OZ we are looking for (diverse & vibrant) is always out of our reach. In the long run, everyone will lose.

  16. Why do you run against Shiller?

  17. Welcome to East Berlin.

  18. "The people who own the building that has the "First Lao Grocery" sign KICKED OUT successful businesses like the Uptown Snack Shop, so they could make "upgrade" to be like the 48th."

    Decent point. Then, maybe some of our TIF dollars should be going to assist profitable and well-managed locally-owned businesses to stay as rents go up. That is an acceptable use of TIF funds. I don't see that happening either.

  19. PS on my last point...I support TIF funds for a program for locally-owned businesses (when they are already profitable and well-managed) only under conditions of transparency and with specific guidelines/conditions. Otherwise, it would be yet another way to corruptly funnel money to friends. Again, it all goes down to addressing blight and encouraging investment without just replacing everyone and everything.