Be bold, city gardeners. Go big, business owners.

A storefront mural stands out at Chicago Truborn, 1741 W. Chicago Ave.

East Village Association membership meeting
May 9, 2018
Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.
Presiding: Michael VanDam, president

Sprout Home: Urban Gardening

Chicago presents challenges for the gardener, according to Stephen Hill, general manager at Sprout Home, 745 N. Damen Ave. Nevertheless, "be a little daring," Hill told members gathered at the Happy Village patio.

The city is more plant-hardy than the rest of northern Illinois, and four hours of sun most likely will support "full sun" plants. For inhospitable backyard decks, trees and shrubs can thrive in big pots insulated with foam board.

Chicago Truborn: West Town Street Art

A mural from Rotterdam artist Eelco van den Berg makes the storefront stand out at Chicago Truborn, 1741 W Chicago Ave. Gallery owner Sara Dulkin described how the West Town SSA business district administers grants to support murals on buildings, scaffolds and the railroad underpass at Chicago Avenue and Lessing Street.

Planning, Preservation & Development

Beatnik restaurant, 1604 W. Chicago Ave., sought EVA assent to a zoning change to B3-1 to accommodate a bar and entertainment. Ciao Chicago, 1656 W. Chicago Ave., is asking for B-3 zoning to allow events at its Italian design showroom. Ald. Brian Hopkins will seek a plan of operation for a restaurant at the former Red Apple convenience store site, 2000 W. Chicago Ave.


Tuesdays at the Triangle after-work concerts start June 5 at Ashland, Milwaukee and Division. This year the events will include food and information booths. The West Town SSA is distributing garden "plant bombs" to attract bees and butterflies.

Stephen Hill of Sprout Home gives garden tips EVA members gathered at the Happy Village patio.

Ald. Hopkins: State of the 2nd Ward 2018

Paul Nickerson of the Tree House Humane Society and Ald. Brian Hopkins prepare to address members at Happy Village.

East Village Association membership meeting
April 2, 2018
Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.
Presiding: Michael VanDam, president

Business Minute: Cats at Work

Paul Nickerson of the Tree House Humane Society gave a presentation on the Cats at Work program. Nickerson shared personal anecdotes of his introduction to the program and how it addressed a severe rodent problem in his neighborhood. Feral cats are trapped, neutered and released in proper shelters where there is a rodent problem.

Nickerson noted that feral cats are usually placed in groups of 2 or 3. The placement by Tree House comes with appropriate shelters that can be placed in garages, under porches or in unused gangways. Placement costs $725 for 3 cats and $650 for 2 cats. A cat eating a rat who has been poisoned is unlikely to suffer ill effects. More than 650 feral cat colonies and more than 3,500 feral cats have been placed through Cats at Work.

Beatnik restaurant seeks rezoning

East Village Association board meeting
March 19, 2018
1019 N. Wolcott Ave.
Present: Michael VanDam, Michelle Hayward, Dan Johnson, Brian Foote, Neal McKnight
Guests: Beatnik/Bonhomme Hospitality, Thomas Raines (attorney), Rafid Hindo and Daniel Alonso.

By Neal McKnight

Beatnik Upzone

Bonhomme Hospitality Group is requesting that EVA support or not oppose a requested upzone for Beatnik restaurant at 1604 W. Chicago Ave. The requested upzone is from B1-3 to B3-1 to accommodate a full restaurant license, which will allow for a dedicated bar area and the issuance of a Public Place of Amusement (PPA) license.

Daniel Alonso and Rafid Hindo noted that Beatnik has been a good neighbor and that there have been no complaints and no calls for service. The principals also were open to a Plan of Operation and Type 1 zoning. In addition, Beatnik does not plan on having paid DJ events and is willing to include specific restrictions in the Plan of Operation regarding the PPA.

Board members noted that there had been complaints on the block about delivery trucks blocking Chicago Avenue. Alonso and Hindo noted that it was a constant battle to have vendors comply and that they would redouble efforts to warn delivery vehicles.

The board agreed to take the matter under consideration and noted that the scope of the zoning change may not require a full membership vote.

Membership and Future Activities

The board discussed increasing attendance and membership through a variety of avenues: Newsletter handouts, Earth Day event, more signage, library fundraiser and trivia night, better communications and partnering with other organizations. Board members present also requested that there be better attendance at board meetings and general membership meetings.

Bar Biscay opens; Polish Triangle builds on CTA plans; police launch tech center

Drew Bayley updates EVA members on Polish Triangle plans.

East Village Association membership meeting
March 5, 2018
Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.
Presiding: Michelle Hayward, VP

By Neal McKnight

Business Minute

Bar Biscay is a Spanish brasserie restaurant at 1450 W. Chicago Ave. that features cuisine from the northern coast of Spain and western coast of France such as Galicia, Gascony and Brittany. Partner Scott Worsham explained the restaurant's concept and passed out menus. Bar Biscay’s chef is Johnny Anderes, previously of Avec.

  • Pintxos: Tues - Sat 3pm-5pm
  • Dinner: Tues - Sat 5pm-10pm
  • Bar open until 1:00 am
  • Telephone: 312-455-8900
  • Web:
Main Presentation: Polish Triangle Coalition

Design for the Polish Triangle (Ashland, Milwaukee and Division)

Stephen Rynkiewicz, EVA board member, webmaster and Polish Triangle Coalition representative, explained that that the coalition is a group of neighborhood organizations dedicated to activating the Polish Triangle with arts and performance programming as well as improving the infrastructure on the Polish Triangle.

Drew Bayley, architect with Moss Design Studio, presented and explained renderings for physical improvements to the Polish Triangle. The design was created through a pro bono contribution from Bugaj Architects, whose offices are at 1223 N. Milwaukee Ave. on the Polish Triangle.

CTA opens Blue Line repair bidding; neighbors press for more at Polish Triangle

Bugaj Architects drafted Polish Triangle conceptual drawings.

As the CTA plans Division Street subway station repairs, the Polish Triangle Coalition is floating a proposal for long-term improvements at the Ashland-Division-Milwaukee intersection.

"The CTA has told us that 'we can't build this," said coalition board member Drew Bayley, who on March 5 showed EVA members the conceptual drawings presented to the city. Transportation planners consider the improvements "a heavy lift." Nevertheless, the coalition hopes the city will adopt similar design features in capital plans 5 to 12 years away.

East Village Association officers 2018-2019

The East Village Association has elected its current officers to serve for the next year.

President Michael VanDam is the only officer who has served a full year in his position; three have been appointed to vacancies. A nominating committee of VanDam, Dan Johnson and Neal McKnight recommends that current officers serve till March 2019.

The slate was elected by acclamation March 5 at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. The meeting included a presentation by members of the Polish Triangle Coalition on plans for the Ashland-Division-Milwaukee plaza and CTA station.

EVA board members are appointed by the president.

Here are short biographies on EVA's officers:

Michael VanDam.

Michael VanDam, president

I've lived in East Village for more than 10 years, and in Chicago for more than 25. I grew up in Michigan and attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, before coming back to the Midwest. Living directly on Chicago Avenue, I'm particularly interested in promoting responsible development on the commercial corridors of East Village, and also serve as a commissioner for our local Special Service Area. Professionally, I'm a real estate agent with Ask Nagel Realty on Division Street.