Monday, March 18, 2013

And It's Official: Uptown Is One Of Seven Chicago "Opportunity Areas"

On Sunday, the Mayor made Saturday's news completely official with a long and wordy press release that holds the promise of a new vision, an absolutely mind-boggling amount of money, and a very different Uptown.  Seems like even one-seventh of Three! Billion! Dollars! (that's $3,000,000,000) is going to be a huge game-changer:

Illustration by DStratis

Nearly $3 Billion in Private and Public Funds to Bolster Neighborhoods Developments, Seize Opportunities

As part of a holistic and strategic vision to foster and seize upon growth and development in neighborhoods across Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced nearly $3 billion in private and public development projects in seven targeted Chicago neighborhoods through a new “Opportunity Planning” initiative. The neighborhoods include Englewood, Pullman, Rogers Park, Uptown, Little Village, Bronzeville, and the Eisenhower Corridor.

Each of these areas is unique and full of potential and the City will play an important role in supporting their growth. Economic development and a neighborhood’s success are reliant upon the support and strategic vision these ‘Opportunity Area’ plans provide,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The City of Chicago in coordination with the private sector has a vital role to play to help communities showcase and support their entertainment, economic and cultural assets.  Only then will Chicago be able to live up to its potential as the global city that it should be.”

City departments and sister agencies began convening last Fall and Winter to discuss how past, current, and future projects can foster certain synergies for area residents and businesses to help them attract more visitors and economic activities.

The City will be leveraging $2.9 billion – including $330 million public funding and $2.6 billion in private funding –  in new economic development, housing, and quality of life improvements for residents and businesses.

These areas already have momentum. The initiative will coordinate ongoing progress with strategic investments to produce faster and more sustainable results,” said Andrew J. Mooney, commissioner of the Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED).

The City of Chicago has identified key community development areas as part of a comprehensive effort to maximize opportunities for neighborhood growth and community improvement.

Based on potential impact and need, seven geographic areas were identified for opportunity-based development initiatives. Current and future development projects in each area total more than $2.9 billion. Public funding includes a variety of federal, state and local sources, including bonds, Tax Increment Financing, land sales, and the capital budgets of sister agencies.

The following are the goals and highlights of each Opportunity Area:

GOAL: Solidify Uptown as destination for destination-oriented entertainment and ethnic culture.
  • Enhance Broadway and Lawrence Avenue with pedestrian friendly streetscaping.
  • Revitalize the Wilson CTA station as a pedestrian-friendly community anchor.
  • Maximize existing facilities for entertainment and nightlife.
  • Enhance Argyle Street as a center for Asian culture and cuisine.


  1. Yet another win for Uptown. I'm starting to really enjoy this!

  2. This is really getting exciting. I think it's time to think about permit parking along Malden and Magnolia between Wilson & Lawrence. For those without parking spaces, it's a foregone conclusion that you'll be driving around in circles for 30 minutes trying to park your car if you move it after 5pm, particularly during the summer and on Friday and Saturday nights.

  3. I AGREE with Uptown Revivalist. Not only do I believe permit parking would benefit the exisiting and potential residents of Sheridan Park, but it will force planners of the Entertainment District to be realistic about incorporating parking solutions into any planned redevelopment.

    I am really excited for the future of our community! I believe this is REAL. I was hopeful 5 years ago when I purchased my home in Sheridan Park, and now I believe it will happen.

    C'mon people, all the ingriedients are here already!

  4. Someone has faith in our Alderman!

  5. Hold up. Are we saying the vinyl Uptown identity banners Shiller put up aren’t good enough? I feel like we’re getting extreme here.

    Nah, just kidding. I hate those ugly things.

  6. I realize this is just a press release, but as a statement of purpose and commitment, I'll take it.

    My biggest worry is that the city will spend too much time worrying about the big boys--the Riv, the Aragon, and the Uptown--and not enough time nurturing a community of smaller clubs, theaters, and bars. A few dozen big shows a year isn't enough--the restaurants will sit empty five nights a week, and Broadway's wide sidewalks will still feel empty and sorta sketchy. Find a way to keep the Annoyance and reach out to places like the Empty Bottle (already expanding to Hyde Park, maybe they need a third?), the Metro, Schuba's, and so on. Make it easy for responsible businesses to get liquor and performance licenses. Let's do this right.

    As a Sheridan Park resident myself, I'm not in love with the idea of using public taxpayer-funded streets for subsidized reserved parking spots (i.e. permit zones), but if that's what it takes to get the neighborhood to buy in, then OK.

  7. Public funding is real. Private funding is not
    Private funding. What does that mean?

    Just who has committed any money. Verbal committments mean nothing. This is Emmanuels idea, not a plan. He is presenting an idea that depends on people who would be committing funds to rebuild Uptown. THe only reason they would committ such funds is if there were a profit in it for them to do so.

    I don't see how they could profit, unless it's 15 to 20 years from now from such an investment. It may give a psychological boost to some and even encourage some restaurants and shops to think about moving to Uptown, but upon closer inspection, I imagine you will see this is an idea, a promotion used for a variety of political reasons that really doesn't have any teeth to it.

    Are private funds being utilized to re do the Wilson L?. I think that's public funds, other wise some private investor owns a part of the CTA.

    The redo of the Wilson L is solid. It does make a difference, but the private investor idea is very weak.

    THey cannot use private money or public money to rebuild the Uptown theater which seems to me, is the linch pin that determines whether Uptown moves over the margin to some kind of real "entertainment" area.

  8. THERE IS NO MONEY! And if there is, all of uptown ought to be enraged that they will be closing down our schools, already have closed down our mental health clinics, yet can go on about "investing in our community." Tell me, how is a nice theatre going to help the struggling poor in uptown? It won't.

    Trickle down my butt. That thing trickling down? It's piss.

  9. I would be enraged if they opened another methadone clinic. I'm ecstatic that they're finally putting some money into some things the tax payer and law abiding residents of this community might be able to actually use and enjoy. Not to mention the aesthetic value all of these things bring to the community as well. One of the reasons I moved here so many years ago was not only because of the price, but because of its proximity to the music venues. I'm all for a music district. Bring it on!

  10. ChiTownPhilly... Thank you! I was having a crappy Monday and then read yet another of your non-sensical 1960's style rantings against.. well, with you, it is just about everything... and it made me chuckle... Thank you for my Monday smile.. I needed it!

  11. "Tell me, how is a nice theatre going to help the struggling poor in uptown? -CTP

    For starters, it creates tax revenue to pay for everything you want the poor to get.

  12. @ChiTownPhilly...Are you saying that unless something specifically helps the poor, it shouldn't be considered for the rest of Uptown's residents? Are you saying that the only development we should be excited about is more low income housing, mental health clinics, SROs and homeless shelters?
    Have you considered that more development means more job opportunities, so that maybe some of the poor people you are so concerned about might actually have a chance to elevate their position to something other than poor? Of course you haven't, because that would make sense...

  13. AWESOME! Uptown is moving forward. Great News!

  14. Stu Piddy

    Public funding is not very real these days it is borrowed and leveraged based on the ability to print more money.

    Private funding is something Rahm and other smart mayors and governors have committed to seek in order to develop their area through a financial vehicle called a P3 (Public Private Partnership). Look it up and get to know it. Who do you think is sitting on tons of cash that can be backed by increased tax revenue these projects guessed it, private investors.

  15. Kshizzle said:
    "@ChiTownPhilly...Are you saying that unless something specifically helps the poor, it shouldn't be considered for the rest of Uptown's residents? Are you saying that the only development we should be excited about is more low income housing, mental health clinics, SROs and homeless shelters?"

    I believe that ChiTownPhilly is saying improvements are fine, but why close down schools because of "lack of funding" at the same time pouring money into El stations and Entertainment? Why not have both? Why not Low income housing along with some great music?

    That would be innovative and progressive, wouldn't it?

    I love the area around the Riv, Aragon, and Green Mill, especially on a Saturday night when everything is hopping.

    But it's hard to feel good about improvements while at the same time we're closing down the Wilson Mens Hotel but giving them no place to go.

    So, I for one understand what ChiTownPhilly is saying.

    But, if it will create more jobs for the poor, and they really can get hired, then that's wonderful. And if tax money from all these establishments can directly go back to residents of Uptown, that's wonderful.

    But we're suspicious, you know? But maybe Cappalman will prove us wrong, and show us that he'll take care of the poor and homeless along with all these improvements.

    It doesn't have to be an either/or, does it? :-)

  16. @ChiTownPhilly..

    SLAP!!!!!!! I am starting to be convinced that many "advocates" for the poor around here are stupid or just trying to get more government funding.

  17. @HoleyMoley - What tax revenue? Do you have any proof or hard numbers re: the type of tax money it would take just to fix the place up? Can you show me some projections that would convince an average taxpayer it's a worthy investment (over schools, clinics, police officers etc.)? I have yet to see anything that shows this investment is worth it's weight in tax dollars. If we fix the crumbling el stations, stop shutting down bus routes or cutting library hours, closing public clinics, schools etc then I say we should consider shelling out tax dollars for private developments and entertainment venues.

    @KShizzle - No I am not saying the only development we should be excited about is more SRO's or Mental Health Clinics. What I am saying is we shouldn't be excited about public tax dollars going to entertainment when our public officials say we can't even pay for our schools. I am saying we should take care of basic's before we start 'making it rain' in uptown. Like Eric Layton said, "Why not have both? Why not Low income housing along with some great music? That would be innovative and progressive, wouldn't it?"

    @IrishPirate - You've yet to speak to me or anyone else on these threads with respect. Grow up, and maybe you're knowledge & wit could help bridge gaps, not widen them.

  18. I do wonder more and more lately about how people are defining “the poor”.

    Here’s my point of view…

    There are the truly poor, unprivileged, handicapped and elderly of all shapes, sizes and colors that I think everyone with a heart pities and yearns to helps. I’m never referring to them when talking about my abhorrence for Uptown’s poor.

    However, in my opinion, we have a lot of the “user and abuser poor” here. The ones that infuriate many of the posters on here, including myself. The bangers and the people literally stealing money from the government (i.e. taxpayers) for services and goods they truly don’t need, nor deserve. Here’s a few examples - why is it that we have subsidized housing in our neighborhood where I consistently see newer luxury cars parked in the parking lots, like seriously big expensive SUV’s and sedans of people who live there. Why do the “poor” have flat screen LARGE TV’s in their homes? Why do I see people coming out of these buildings with Louis Vuitton luggage (perhaps a knock-off but they are good knock-offs)? Why are they smoking and drinking?! Last time I checked it was $10 a pack of cigs.

    Another, more specific, example is the Scotland Yard buildings on Broadway near Buena and Broadway. That is State of Illinois public housing. I have learned that in the past government officials have cracked down on people living there who actually have City of Chicago jobs! One woman was making $80,000/year and paying little to nothing for food and for her housing! She had a Mercedes! And actually gave the finger to the judge who made her pay the money back when she was eventually caught.

    These are the people who have tainted the purpose of the system and give the truly needy a bad reputation. This might just be another factor to consider – getting the abusers out of the system. But I think it’s part of curing the disease instead of covering up a symptom by throwing more money at it.

  19. @Wang speak as if you have a heart for the poor
    but not for those in the hood
    you reason that anyone who lives next to wealth but is poor; is a theft stealing from the government, and that some how mean you personally are getting screwed by the poor eaters

    libertarian heartlessness is just another word for manifest destinys genocidal self- delusion for the money/skin privilege classes

    the worldwide financial bubble is ready to pop...were is the money for this building up?

  20. CTP, you are going to find this shocking, but the things you are demanding cost money. I know, I know, for the longest time, everyone believed that it made perfect sense to have the government spend money that it never had to help everyone. I get that.

    It seems the mayor is convinced that you're wrong. I would suggest you run for mayor if you want your way. Good luck.

  21. Philly,

    the comment you are responding to was made by "Irish-like Pirate" not me.

    ILP is the generic bottle of cola from Aldi compared to my two liter branded sugary goodness. He's merely hoping that someone buys his drivel because of his being positioned near me on the shelves of Uptown commenters.

    Also I'm surprised you mentioned funding more police in your comment. Are you sober? Did the PBR's from last night wear off early?

    The first thing we need in Uptown is more market rate housing. One way to get that is to make the neighborhood more desirable for people to live here. Can you say "la musica"? I knew you could!

    We need more low income housing around here like I need a larger hat size. You know when you buy a balaclava for the cold or in your case to fight with the police and it says "one size fits all". It's a lie. I have to scour the internet for XXXX Large headgear for my sized 8++ noggin.

    I'm living proof that neanderthal man did get freaky with Cro-Magnon(early modern humans) women. It was worse for my even larger headed dad. Back in the fifties he went to Maxwell street in search of a chapeau for his ginormous possibly Irish head. No vendor had anything in his size. Finally one vendor offered him the hat box to wear.

  22. @chitownphilly Pouring money into developing Uptown will result in the additional tax base needed to generate money for our schools. It's not rocket science. Unless the entire area of Uptown is a designated TIF district (I don't believe it is but please correct me if I'm wrong), schools will be some of the biggest benefactors of an increased tax base. If the community is allowed to continue to decline, property owners will leave, values will decrease, and there will be even less money to fund the schools. From what I understand, the schools targeted for closing were chosen because they are grossly underattended and in need of major renovation. Schools are being closed and consolidated all over the state, not just Chicago.
    Wang Chung hit the nail on the head in his comment about defining the poor. I have absolutely no problem with helping people who need some extra assistance to make ends meet, but I do NOT condone handouts to those unwilling to help themselves. The homeless drunks and drug addicts are not entitled to live in Uptown, or anywhere else for that matter. They are not entitled to camp out on our public sidewalks and doorways and I am sick of people advocating for them as if they are. That does not make me compassionless, it makes me a sensible, reasonable resident of this neighborhood who is interested in seeing it get better. Thank god I'm in the majority in that regard.

  23. A new 50-bed 24-hour homeless shelter at the corner of Lawrence and Sheridan? Could this be true? Is this really what the neighborhood needs? Is 60640 the only zip code capable of having homeless shelters? I believe there are 49 other wards too. Why us, again?

  24. @ the lost primeau

    I’m not 100% sure what you’re talking about.

    I can’t feel compelled to empathize the people who consistently make decisions to do bad things in our neighborhood whether it’s being dishonest or killing each other. It would be nice if love, rainbows and sunshine kisses solved all the world’s problems, but it don’t, yah know.

    This debate seems futile. There’s always going to be crazies in Uptown, at lease the subjective kind. You make a factual statement and someone comes back at you with some irrational, emotional spin. Ugh.

    Everything else I said is factual. Acceptance is difficult, I get that, and denial is only the first stage. Best of luck to you.


    People wanting to come to this area generates tax revenues. The goal is to make Uptown a more desirable area. There is no bridge to gap. If I agreed with you that would just make us both wrong. Have a good day!

  26. @Wang Chung:

    "why is it that we have subsidized housing in our neighborhood where I consistently see newer luxury cars parked in the parking lots, like seriously big expensive SUV’s and sedans of people who live there."

    LOL. I need free housing so I can afford my Escalade!!!

    Nobody could ever explain this to me. I totally agree with your entire post.

  27. @ Wang seem to lump all the poor as a criminal class; yet you call the underprivileged as the truly poor?

    the underprivileged become criminals because of the heartless reasoning and selfish ethics coming from political and public reality of living in the most segregated city in American

    uptown of my youth was an American Indian/ hillbilly ghetto; far harder was the life of my mother when she had to face the racism of privilege Chicago fine upstanding citizens

    your needs are purely selfish
    your reasoning is flawed
    your ethics no better then nazi tye racist falsities

  28. Okay. Someone made a comparison to Nazis. Godwin's Law has been invoked and this discussion is OVER.

  29. I'm a bit late to the party but wanted to ask if anyone knows more about the plans mentioned as part of the announcement for using Truman Garage for Entertainment District parking.

    It'd be fantastic if solar was added there to lessen the long term expenses for the garage and to set a high standard. (Oak Park did a great job with this in 2012:

    Solar in Uptown has huge potential. We could do so many things in keeping with our community goal of being a model of sustainability. Theatres & night venues are expensive to heat & cool in off hours, but with solar and practical 24-hour uses like housing servers, Uptown Eco-Entertainment District would set a really high standard for generations to come.

  30. Hey, just wondering, I made a comment yesterday (I think it was yesterday) and it didn't get published. If I said something out of line let me know so I can correct it, and resubmit it.
    Thanks so much!
    -Eric Clayton

  31. I totally reject Wang Chung's overly simplified arguments about poverty in the city--but I still like this idea.

    Increased foot traffic during the day and night, along with increased job opportunities, would do more to reduce crime in the neighborhood than any social program the city could manage to run properly or afford.

  32. Hey Caring Neighbor, CARE to tell me why you keep censoring my posts?

    The discussion is only done when you say it is?

    Er, it's only done for the people you say it is.

    Uptown Update, you are in your own little world.

  33. Phil, I had a business trip yesterday and wasn't online between very early morning and late evening. There is a group of us who moderate the comments on UU throughout the day, depending on who is available. I personally didn't see the comments you refer to.

    I believe all of us draw the line at comments where people call their neighbors Nazis, and yes, the discussion WILL stop at that point. By the time someone gets called a Nazi, everyone's stopped listening anyway, and it has gone from a discussion to dueling accusations.

    I don't tell you what is acceptable policy on the blogs about your interests, nor should I. Those of us who put hours of work into UU each week have the right to decide to comment policies for our blog

  34. Well as long as you present yourself as a blog, not a newsource, that would be fine.

    But you don't. UU presents itself as some sort of non-biased entity reporting news.

    What blog posts have ever been posted here? What have you or anyone on UU authored and posted other than a news article or link with a short description?

    UU should own up and say we're not a blog and then have some journalistic integrity. OR, own up and say we're a blog but we don't blog or act like a blog, sorry.

  35. ChitownPhilly,
    You are being ridiculous! UU is a mix of news and commentary, as it says at the top of the page. Sometimes they just post announcements about community events. But for other articles, they include commentary and "biased" opinions.
    And the format of the page, even down to the fact that comments are through "blogger" clearly show its a blog.
    Even if it was a news site, the Tribune and others set their own policies for whose comments to allow and whose not to. It is within UU's right to do so.

  36. Yay! More good news for 46! Amy Crawford said on WTTW last night that this is all in spite of our Alderman. That makes no sense to me.