EVA News: Chicago Avenue development, wood windows, Wooden Gallery

The proposed Roots Handmade Pizza and Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe restaurants at 1916-24 W. Chicago Ave. get a close look in the latest East Village News, including comments from news.eastvillage.org and facebook.com/eastvillagechicago.

The newsletter also invites members to the annual East Village Association holiday party Dec. 6 at Wooden Gallery, 1007 N. Wolcott, looks at vintage window restoration, and provides updates on the Chicago Bowl concert space at 1850 W. Chicago and the former St. Boniface Church at 1358 W. Chestnut St.

The December 2010 issue can be downloaded here. The newest EVA News advertiser is Panon Service of Chicago.

Holiday happenings

Dec. 4 Wicker Park Choral Singers look to the sky with the concert “Star of Wonder” at 3 p.m. in Wicker Park Lutheran Church, 1502 N Hoyne.

Dec. 4-5 Do Division Holiday will offer sales from stores along Division Street from Milwaukee to Leavitt and trolley rides to
Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale at Pulaski Park. 1419 W. Blackhawk St.

More holiday happenings at wickerparkbucktown.com/events

Nest in your nest egg

President's Message | By Greg Nagel  

Many of us in this neighborhood nest in our nest egg. By nest I mean that our home is our castle, our sanctuary, and the place where our families eat and sleep. Our home and the associated lifestyle in our neighborhood are important, and are worth protecting and shaping.

By nest egg I mean that for most of us our home is our single biggest investment, and our financial security is largely tied to our property value. Right now in America, 1 in every 5 homes is upside down: We owe more money to the bank than what the home is worth. It has been a very hard and scary market, and I'm sure many of us our do not have the sense of financial security we did five years ago when our homes were worth more. Financial security can be as important to everyday happiness as a clean, comfortable neighborhood environment.

A high-end grocery store can improve our lifestyle. A low-end liquor store can detract from our lifestyle. Developments can improve property values, like high-end single families or perhaps Chicago Bowl. Others can lower values, like tattoo parlors or distressed properties. Understanding and balancing both nest and nest egg concerns, I've been a proponent for "responsible" development in our neighborhood. To me, responsible development balances our nest and nest-egg interests.

For many years we have been frustrated with the lack of development on Chicago Avenue and in particular the 1900 block, and this has been the subject of much conversation. At our last EVA meeting the membership unanimously approved Chicago Bowl, a 23,000-square-foot, high-end entertainment complex on the 1900 block of Chicago Avenue. We now have an opportunity to get two additional businesses on the 1900 block as well.

One is Bleeding Heart Bakery, which is a really interesting, fun, and hip business that virtually everyone is in favor of and excited about. The second is Roots, a pizza restaurant that will serve liquor and is situated on the corner of Chicago and Winchester. There are understandingly some concerned residents, particularly the Winchester residents that live near Chicago Avenue. However, these businesses come as a package and are being developed by the same team.

So for our nest egg, we have two additional businesses that will greatly enhance Chicago Avenue and property values. And for our nest, Bleeding Heart Bakery improves the lifestyle of its neighbors and Roots will also provide some lifestyle value to the neighborhood, but will also bring some negative lifestyle concerns.

Wouldn't it be great if we could have the all the benefits of these businesses without drawbacks? Well, that is not realistic. However, it is possible to get all of the benefits and to mitigate the drawbacks. Substantive concessions from the Bleeding Heart Bakery/Roots developers will reduce the neighbors’ noise and alley concerns.

Will we have our cake and eat it too? Will our nest maintain its comfort and will our nest egg grow? I'm waiting to hear exactly what concessions the developers are willing to make before I decide personally whether I support the project.

However, based on what they can build as a matter of right and what they are seeking, they are likely to open with a much smaller noise footprint if we can reach a compromise.

As we enter the holiday season, I'm hopeful that as divisive as this issue may become, we can debate it in a respectful way. Happy holidays!

Roots, from the ground up

Scott Weiner, co-owner of The Fifty/50 Restaurant at 2047 W. Division St., describes the restaurants he and partner Greg Mohr are developing at 1916-24 W. Chicago Ave. In a Jan. 3 vote, East Village Association members will advise Ald. Joe Moreno on support of the plan.

By Scott Weiner

Roots Handmade Pizza 

Roots Handmade Pizza is a concept based on food from restaurants that have become institutions or icons in Greg Mohr’s hometown area, the Quad Cities. The main focus of the food concept will be hand-tossed pizza.

In addition to being made from fresh, high-quality ingredients, what sets this pizza apart from others is a unique spice blend and dough texture. Everything from the pizza sauce to the sausage will be made in house. We will make homemade mozzarella, fresh pastas and numerous specialty sausages, as well as feature great salads.

From the dessert spectrum, we will be serving homemade organic ice cream and a plethora of organic desserts, which will all be made next door at Bleeding Heart Bakery. Homemade root beer and cream soda, a.k.a. Roots Beer, will round out our menu.

Roots Handmade Pizza will be designed in a way that makes the food part of the show. There will be an open kitchen with slanted mirrors on the ceiling to add perspective to the vibrant ingredients and art of making great pizza. Along with great food, there will be 16 Midwestern beers on draft and a full bar.

We will be giving the 100-year-old building and adjoining building a complete facelift, while preserving and restoring the fa¸ades. There will be sidewalk café seating along the Winchester side of the building and the street level of the building will have an open-air feel.

Construction on this building alone will be bringing in more than 30 jobs to the area and we are investing a substantial amount of money in the restoration of this 10,000-square-foot building, which has been an eyesore on Chicago Avenue for years. We will seek LEED certification along with the bakery next door. Upon opening there will be an anticipated 45 to 55 employees working at Roots, which is the current level of employment at Fifty/50.

Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café

Bleeding Heart Bakery and Café technically will encompass several different aspects in its overall bakery and café concept.

The retail menu for the bakery counter includes cupcakes, brownies, pastries, croissants, bagels and other organic and sometimes vegan-friendly products. We will be baking artisan fresh bread, making doughnuts to order, and even making fresh artisan ice cream. Everything we serve will be organic.

Along with retail and wholesale baking, we will feature a complete and unique breakfast that will rival any other operation in Chicago. In essence, as Bleeding Heart Bakery owners Vinny and Michelle Garcia have begun to receive national attention for their abilities, we are building a state-of-the art, all things baking facility for them to showcase their talents.

The bakery will also be designed to give guests a completely unobstructed view of the baking industry. When guests walk in to the bakery they will walk into an actual bakery and not a retail space with a bakery hidden behind brick walls.

Like next door, we will be investing a substantial amount of money into the restoration of this 8,500-square-foot building. As there is no sidewalk café for the bakery, we are also hoping to bring a rooftop garden and café to the neighborhood. We believe this enclosed space over Chicago Avenue will bring a great buzz to Chicago avenue, a street that we all hope to see grow and flourish.

Along with construction jobs, Bleeding Heart Bakery will bring about 50 jobs to the neighborhood. It will be a green project with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification. There are currently a pilot and talks with Food Network and TLC for a documentary on aspects of this project and this business.

All the managing partners of these business are longtime residents of the area and a either have been or are current business owners in this area. Both businesses will own and operate the real estate in which they are located, and we hope to be here for a long time.

We hope everyone is as excited as we are developing 15,000 square feet of developed retail space on Chicago Avenue just a block down from Chicago Bowl, which is developing even more retail space on this growing street. We expect both projects to bring a lot of money, jobs and new visitors into our neighborhood.

We are seeking the support of EVA for the following aspects:

  • Zoning change on 1916 W. Chicago (Bleeding Heart Bakery) to remove the RT-4 designation. It is currently zoned as both B3-2 and RT-4, an anomaly.

  • Special use permit for the rooftop deck above 1916 W. Chicago.

Wooden Gallery to host holiday party Dec. 6

Jerzy Kenar's sculpture "To Communicate" at Andersen Community Academy

Blend your artistic and culinary tastes on Monday, Dec. 6 at the East Village Association holiday party. The annual neighborhood get-together this year is a potluck dinner at the Wooden Gallery, 1007-15 N. Wolcott.

The event is BYOB and starts at 7 p.m. E-mail the name of the dish you will bring and the number of people attending to holiday@eastvillagechicago.org.

Sculptor Jerzy S. Kenar has operated the Wooden Gallery as his studio for the past 30 years, and EVA members can view a retrospective of his work there. The 62-year-old Polish-born artist produced the familiar mound sculpture facing Division Street at the Andersen-LaSalle II school campus, 1148 W. Honore.

Monumental Kenar installations in Chicago include wooden sculptures in international-arrivals Terminal 5 of O'Hare Airport and the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., and the granite Black History fountain at Renaissance Park, 1300 W. 79th St. Kenar also creates church sculptures and furniture, including the Millennium Doors at Holy Trinity Church, 1118 N. Noble St.

What's at risk: Measuring change, neighbor by neighbor

Neal McKnight is not voting as an East Village Association board member on a restaurant proposed at the end of his block. But he has been participating in the discussion, and here he offers a personal view about why it's an important debate.
By Neal McKnight

My wife and I have two daughters and we live on Winchester Avenue in East Village. Mom lives across the street and some of my best friends in the world are my neighbors.

We have lived here since 1995, longer than some and much shorter than others. Over the years we have seen waves of development roll through the neighborhood, some of it good and some of it bad. The recession has slowed development in the neighborhood in the last couple of years, but recently new developments have been proposed along Chicago Avenue.

The latest proposal is for a 250-seat bar-restaurant at the northeast corner of Chicago and Winchester avenues. I think the hours and size of this business will alter the character of my street and ultimately our neighborhood. The block, the neighborhood, the city I know and love is at risk.

Each time a bar (and let's face it, it really is mainly a bar) forces someone to leave because it is too loud, because there is nowhere to park, because the patrons have forced the neighbors inside, off the sidewalk, off the porches, or to shut their windows, my street becomes a smaller, narrower place.

This undermines the stability of our neighborhood. I don’t know if anyone will leave if this place opens, but I do know if this place opens it will be a different, less attractive block.

Division Street is great but it does not make the city great. I don’t want Division Street on my street. Good development does not mean building a playground only for transient and newly employed recent college graduates.

Too often we just look at the size of building, the type of business, the number of customers. We focus on zoning changes, licenses and permits in an attempt to keep new businesses from damaging our community. But there is more at stake than property values and business interests.

It is important to remember the stability of our community and value what we already have before we allow any business to change the character of our community. After all, that is why business wants to be here.

I love my street. My block has a nice mix of rentals, condos and houses. The people that live there are a nice mix also. Hispanic families have befriended and watch out for my mother and their other neighbors. Polish tenants I wouldn’t trade for the world: They love my daughters like aunts and uncles. Polish property owners keep their buildings immaculate, if not updated with Viking and SubZero appliances.

My retired neighbor who lives alone next door was born on the block. He argues politics with me every chance he gets, but once said to me, "I am grateful every day because I eat my meals while looking out my window at your garden."

There are young couples you won’t meet until they have their babies out in their strollers and they start asking you about schools and parks and gardens. Other young couples on their own help garden the parkways and clean the alley. Older families have been on the street awhile and steer everybody away from the bad element, the bad deal and the bad contractor.

Croatian girls down the street ride bikes with my daughters in circles up and down the street. An Indian family at the corner helps the kids from the neighborhood cross at Iowa because there is no stop sign. My gay neighbors have watched over my kids like hawks, taken them into their homes and taught them the real values of tolerance and respect.

Artists and students in the cheaper rentals are out late talking and smoking on their porches. They serve as the nighttime sentinels, tattoos and all. My southern neighbors (from Georgia and Bridgeport) have two little boys who feel safe enough to run down the street with their dog. All the neighbors pitch in to return the dog to their yard.

Shopkeepers have invested in our neighborhood when others wouldn't, without bothering their neighbors. The Pakistani owner will make the right change for my girls and watch out for them. The Ukrainian florist lets me in after closing hours because I forgot to get flowers for a birthday or anniversary.

The Korean dry cleaner asks to see my daughters’ pictures every time I am there and is surprised by how big they are, because she remembers when they were born. The African American insurance agent across the street took care of my in-laws (not her clients) when their house was damaged in Hurricane Katrina and they couldn’t go home.

I can go on about more neighbors and more businesses. I have used a ton of labels to describe them all, but that is the point. I live in a big, rich and varied place. It is a real diversity of not only the labels but the life experiences attached to those labels. This is the city that we hope for; it is the city for everyone. It is worth protecting.

Pizza Hut choice: Cars or pedestrians?

Minutes for Nov. 1, 2010 membership meeting submitted by Dana Palmer

Bend Yoga & Movement Studio

Meeting commenced 7:05 p.m. Mary Clemmons with Bend Yoga did a brief presentation of her business. Bend Yoga is located at 906 N. Damen Ave. and was started last September. It is a drop-in studio and offers classes everyday of the week.

Chicago Green Windows

Dan Nehm was a guest speaker on window repair and energy efficiency. Nehm supported old-growth wood and repairing old windows versus replacing them with new ones. He argued that old windows can be fixed for a reasonable cost and can be as energy efficient as new windows if storm windows or weather stripping is installed.

Holiday party

The December Holiday party is approaching and the board will discuss time and location at next board meeting.

Chicago Bowl

Pete Shapiro with Chicago Bowl presented his proposal for a bowling alley, restaurant and music venue at 1850 W. Chicago. Shapiro and his group are in need of a PPA license to operate a bowling alley. Scott Rappe and Neal McKnight with the Planning, Preservation and Development committee made and seconded a motion to not oppose a PPA license for this proposal. Members voted and no one was opposed to the motion.

Dog waste

Dana Palmer passed out signs that residents can place on trees or fences alerting pet owners to clean up after their pets.

Polish Triangle development

Scott Rappe's presentation regarded why the board turned down a proposal for the old Pizza Hut location. The building would have catered primarily to use of the car and would have required reversing Division Street's pedestrian designation. The board and other members would prefer to see a more pedestrian friendly proposal.

Holiday party at artist's studio Dec. 6

Minutes of Nov. 8 board meeting submitted by Greg Nagel

Roots/Bleeding Heart

Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner presented plans for the Roots pizzaria and Bleeding Heart Bakery cafe at the northeast corner of Chicago and Winchester. The project is building to be LEED certified, maintaining facade, and will have valet parking. It will not apply for a PPA license. Bleeding Heart will have 100% electric ovens to reduce emissions, adding stairwell in front to take deliveries through front loading zone. Roots will have an estimated 60/40 food to liquor mix. No music is planned for Roots outdoor patio or Bleeding Heart rooftop deck.

Concerns noted in the meeting:
  • Location abuts residential street.
  • Is Roots really more of a bar than a restaurant?
  • Noise from Roots outdoor patio and garage door style windows on Winchester face.
  • Alley concern with incoming/outgoing deliveries, late night pizza/ organic ice cream pickup window on Winchester, garbage cans/ bins in a narrow alley.
Aaron Bilton will reach out to Ald. Joe Moreno to explore idea of changing the direction of Winchester from Iowa to Chicago so it is one way south, which would reduce street traffic from Roots.

Holiday Party

Board decided to have our Holiday Party on Monday, Dec. 6. at Jerzy Kenar's sculpture studio at 1007-1015 N. Wolcott. It will be BYOB and a potluck. RSVP

Chicago Bowl

Scott Rappe will draft letter to Ald. Joe Moreno or at least forward language to Dana Palmer so she can draft letter.


Tom Tomek is the new EVA CAPS committee person and will report the main headlines and bring the stats when they are available to the general meeting.

Nicole Semple by email reported that Paypal transfer is complete, we are keeping our bank account with Banco Popular, and the post office box transfer is complete as well.

Rooftop, sidewalk seating in Roots/Bleeding Heart restaurant plan

Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner with publicist Dave Andrews
The owners of The Fifty/50 sports bar will ask the East Village Association to support rooftop seating at the Bleeding Heart Bakery breakfast cafe they are developing at 1916 W. Chicago Ave.

EVA board members reviewed their plans Nov. 8 and suggested ways to minimize the neighborhood impact of Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner's next-door companion project, Roots Handmade Pizza at 1924 W. Chicago Ave.:

  • Eliminating a delivery window on Winchester Avenue.
  • Extending the Third Coast Valet loading zone on Chicago Avenue.
  • Closing large retractable windows on Winchester during night hours.
  • Redirecting Winchester's current one-way northbound traffic.

The 60-seat rooftop patio facing Chicago Avenue is likely to face a member vote Jan. 3, since it requires a special-use permit. Roots would have sidewalk tables on Winchester and a rooftop garden, which current zoning allows.

The design from Space Architects is similar to a restaurant planned for the space last year. Bleeding Heart would display cakes in Roots' storefront window.

The Fifty/50 management group has purchased both properties. Weiner said building permits were under city review and Roots could open in mid-March, with Bleeding Heart by April. Mohr and Weiner announced the project less than two weeks ago.

Also during the two-hour board meeting at Leona's restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta Blvd., CAPS liaison Tom Tomek noted that Chicago Police have redeployed six of its nine CAPS officers in the 13th District to patrol duties.

The 7 p.m. Dec. 6 EVA membership meeting is planned as a potluck holiday dinner in the Jerzy S. Kenar art studio at 1007-15 N. Wolcott.

Snowberry proposed as dog park

The Snowberry playlot at 1851 W. Huron would be converted to a dog park in a proposal to be aired by the Commercial Park Advisory Council.

A meeting will discuss dog-friendly areas at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Commercial Club Playground fieldhouse, 1845 W. Rice St.

Maintenance free? No such thing, says window restorer

It's true, says carpenter Dan Nehm: They don't make windows like they used to.

"Old growth wood has properties that keep wood from rotting," Nehm told East Village Association members Nov. 1, passing around a densely grained block of reclaimed wood to support his view.

Windows from the 1940s and earlier are restored in Nehm's business, Chicago Green Windows. A reclaimed window demonstrated his system, weatherstripped with glazing putty and thick bronze strips, both made locally. A wood storm window matched the vintage look, with a new screen-window track built in.

Even energy-efficient modern windows have an ecological downside: "Once the seals fail they have to be thrown away," Nehm said. "They're great for energy efficiency, not so great for the environment."

Vinyl windows not only allow few repair options, they're prone to damage from winter cold and summer heat despite their billing as maintenance free. "Be careful when you hear these words," Nehm said. While buildings in Chicago have kept their original windows for more than a century, vinyl windows, which date back less than 50 years, already are headed for Dumpster disposal.

Manufacturing vinyl has added environmental consequences compared with the materials in new wood windows, and while there are local recycling sources for wood windows, Nehm said vinyl is "basically disposable."

Pizza & pastries at Chicago & Winchester

MetromixScott Weiner, Vinny & Michelle Garcia, Greg Mohr (metromix.com) 

A Chicago Avenue pizza restaurant from the owners of the Fifty/50 sports bar is on the agenda at Monday's meeting of the East Village Association board. 

A representative of the project will attend the 6:30 p.m. meeting at Leona's Restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta, said EVA planning co-chair Scott Rappe.

Scott Weiner and Greg Mohr tell Metromix Chicago they plan a spring opening for a 200-seat pizzaria at 1924 W. Chicago Ave., with an adjoining Bleeding Heart Bakery coffee shop next door at 1916 W. Chicago.

The location has been on EVA's radar lately. A restaurant at the Chicago & Winchester corner passed a May 2009 vote and city zoning change, only to lose development backing in the recession. It failed review at the start of the year as a potential drycleaning plant, and in 2007 as a condo site.

Roots pizza, with a planned March opening, would serve Quad Cities-style pizza (doughy thin crust cut in strips). Delivery may pose challenges at the site: Traffic on Winchester flows away from Chicago Avenue past a narrow alley. The previous restaurant plan included an agreement with neighbors to forgo side-street deliveries.

Bleeding Heart would serve brunch in the two-story space next door, as well as the organic pastry that Vinny and Michelle Garcia once sold at Chicago and Damen. Among the prospective cafe offerings, according to Metromix: mushroom-polenta eggs Benedict with persimmon Hollandaise sauce.

The Garcias ran a Ukrainian Village bakery for two years before moving their storefront in 2006 to Roscoe Village and expanding last year to Oak Park. In recent cable-TV seasons they've displayed their skills at "punk-rock pastry" in cake and cupcakes bake-offs.

Test local schools Saturday, shredder Tuesday

Schools in the 1st Ward will have representatives on hand to discuss programs and enrollment from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Nazareth Family Center, 1127 N. Oakley, according to Ald. Joe Moreno.

The e-mail announcement links to a list of 16 elementary and 4 high schools, both public and private.

Parents have till Dec. 17 to apply to Chicago Public Schools' selective enrollment schools and career or military academies, including

Chicago Bowl racks up East Village support

A 16-lane bowling alley, restaurant and performance space at 1850 W. Chicago got the unanimous support of East Village Association members in a Nov. 1 vote.

Chicago Bowl developer Peter Shapiro took questions from the 50 people attending in the ping-pong room at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. If 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno sponsors a Public Place of Amusement license, the venue at Chicago and Wolcott could open in early 2012.

Shapiro will make another presentation at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Commercial Club Park fieldhouse at 1845 W. Rice St., which shares an alley with the Chicago Bowl site. Shapiro suggested his business would support park improvements.

The former Chicagoan plans a renovation of the 23,000-square-foot AAA Distributing Co. auto warehouse along the same lines as his Brooklyn Bowl, a former factory in the gentrifying Williamsburg district of the New York borough. Shapiro came armed with a written testimonial from borough president Marty Markowitz.

The restaurant would be the first Blue Ribbon Restaurants location outside New York. Chicago favorites likely would join fried-chicken platters on the menu, with Midwestern beers on tap. Screens would project rock, folk and blues performances alongside the bowling lanes.

EVA planning co-chair Scott Rappe recommended that EVA not oppose the plan after noting concerns over the facade's lack of visual interest and access to a 29-space parking lot, which would adjoin Tecalitlan restaurant and raze the building between them at 1834 W. Chicago. The lot would be double-parked at peak hours and take deliveries during the day.

The business would employ upwards of 100 people including security. Hiring staff within walking distance would be a "priority," Shapiro said.