East Village spreads warmth at Boundary holiday party Dec. 2

President's Message By John Scheer 

'Tis the season and life goes on in the East Village. The country has a new president-elect and history-making economic events that will affect us for years to come. We have gas for under $2 a gallon (at least outside the city) and the highest unemployment in decades. Travel plans are getting more expensive and retirement plans are evaporating. Businesses are stringing holiday lights earlier than ever, along with the "Sale" signs that used to trail by at least 30 days.

It’s a new world, and that calls for embracing traditions with a new view of reality. That’s why I am inviting all EVA members to the annual EVA holiday event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2 at The Boundary Tavern & Grille, 1932 W. Division St.

A reservation is required. Please respond by Sunday, Nov. 30, to holiday@eastvillagechicago.org with your commitment to join us in this holiday tradition at a new venue.

An EVA menu and reserved seating will be offered. Don’t expect Santa.

In keeping with the tradition, we want to share with those in our community that are in need during this time. Everyone attending the EVA holiday dinner is asked to bring a donation of warm clothing that will be collected for Northwestern University Settlement Association.

Bring anything from hats to socks, sweaters to boots, gloves, coats — you get the idea. Your donation can be sized for adults or children, new clothing or used (they must be clean and without holes). Please do not wrap the items, so they can be viewed by size.

Northwestern University Settlement House, at Noble and Augusta, is dedicated to supporting families in West Town and will focus your donations to families in the East Village area. What a great way to share and care about those around you.

This December holiday event will replace the monthly general meeting for EVA. We will take this time to enjoy the life and times of our neighborhood while we participate with and support our local restaurant, Boundary. Please take time to join us in this EVA holiday event and share some warmth with the Northwestern Settlement House families.

Owner seeks zoning support for 1744 Augusta

Property owner Jim Boatman is planning renovations at 1744 W. Augusta that brought him to the East Village Association board Monday. Ald. Manuel Flores asked that EVA review his request for a zoning change.

The project involves an apartment that does not fit current zoning code. Since the unit may predate the zoning code itself, the board asked Boatman to research whether it would qualify for an exemption. If keeping the apartment requires a code change, EVA membership likely will be asked for a vote in January.

Boatman described the project in an e-mail forwarded to board members Nov. 5 from vice president Greg Nagel, who describes Boatman as a friend:

"I recently purchased the building at 1744 W. Augusta in the 1st Ward. I have spent a good deal of time in the East Village area and am interested very much in improving the area and plan to move into 1744 upon the completion of the renovation. The building had been neglected and run down for some time with numerous building violations and was in the pre-foreclosure process. I plan to do a 'green' gut rehab transforming this 100+ year old building into a clean, attractive, and well maintained

"I am also interested in implementing a number of construction ideas I first learned at the recent Chicago Green Building seminar hosted by Alderman Flores. As this is a gut rehab, I have the opportunity to completely redo the energy systems and plan to seek the highest level of energy efficiency.

"Specifically, I am requesting an upzoing from RT4 to RT-4.5 in order to make the fourth unit legal non-conforming. If I were to receive support from the East Village, the aldermen and then ultimately the Zoning Board I would use this zoning solely to get a permit to renovate the 4th unit and would not take this zoning change and do anything dramatic like adding to the building height and would happily accept caveats this effect. Upon the completion of the renovation, I would then downzone the property back to RT4 so that the fourth unit is legal but non-conforming and the zoning for the neighborhood would remain consistent.

"I know in evaluating this request you not only have to consider this specific situation but you also have to consider precedence for the entire neighborhood. In conversation with Alderman Flores he pointed out that one of the factors that makes this specific situation different is that I had not contributed in any way to the overbuilding of this structure and simply had inherited a fourth unit that had been run illegally. This building was overbuilt by the previous owner and the illegal fourth unit had been in existence for over fifteen years.

"While other owners would perhaps just continue this practice, I prefer to engage the community to get their permission to change the zoning to make this fourth unit legal-non-conforming. This will allow me to properly enhance the building in an environmentally friendly way and in full compliance with all Chicago building codes. I feel that the end result will be the refurbishment of a 100 year old building that will gain green energy savings components, and a fourth living unit that fully complies with all City of Chicago buildings codes.

"This building will be well managed and maintained and will be occupied by myself. I am interested in doing the right thing morally which will in turn help the East Village community, the environment, future tenants, and even property values, thus resulting in an across-the-board pro community proposal.

"I appreciate very much your time in evaluating this proposal and look forward to taking an active role in the neighborhood and future community projects."