School fair Sunday in Wicker Park

Children can play Sunday at Wicker Park while their parents size up their education choices for next year.

Twenty neighborhood, magnet, charter and private schools in the 1st Ward will be represented from 10am-2pm at the Wicker Park fieldhouse, 1425 N. Damen. This year's School Expo is co-sponsored by the Wicker Park Committee and Ald. Proco Joe Moreno.

Chicago Public Schools will hold its own Options for Knowledge Fair from 9-noon Saturday at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren.

Applications are accepted beginning in October for the city's magnet, gifted and other selective-enrollment schools, including A.N. Pritzker in Wicker Park and LaSalle II in East Village. Pritzker also has an open program that covers much of East Village; Principal Joeniele Reese outlined Pritzker offerings to the East Village Association this month. Pupils from the closed Andersen Community Academy now attend LaSalle II, at 1148 N. Honore.

Pritzker, Peabody, Otis and Columbus are the East Village neighborhood public schools. Private schools include Near North Montessori.

Also of note, Pritzker School announced that the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble jazz group will perform Feb. 10 and 11 benefit concerts in the Pritzker auditorium at 2009 W. Schiller.

Kahil El'Zabar, whose children attend the school, is an energetic stage presence as the group's leader and percussionist. Among his credits, El'Zabar led the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, scored "The Lion King" for Broadway and organized Steppenwolf Theatre's Traffic series.

What's next for Chicago and Ashland?

Is the Chicago-Ashland intersection a strip-mall prospect? The north side of Chicago Avenue has for-sale signs posted at 1604-08, 1614 and 1620 W. Chicago. A purchase inquiry on another building was reported lately to East Village Association directors.

A listing pictures the 1620 property as a condo with balconies added, but the longstanding concern with the buildings across from the West Town Branch Library is that they might not be long standing.

In 2008, EVA aired neighbors' interest in potential turnover of Chicago Avenue tracts. The Chicago-Ashland block came into focus a year later when EVA asked Ald. Manuel Flores to look into whether property on the northwest corner of Division and Ashland might be bought up and demolished.

Division-Ashland development in detail

Representatives of neighboring community groups join East Village Association directors. 

Sept. 19, 2011 board of directors minutes
Submitted by Stephen Rynkiewicz

President Greg Nagel opened the meeting at 6:30 pm to review development plans for 1601 W. Division. Scott Rappe, co-chair of the Planning, Preservation & Development committee, said revisions address the community's desire for a significant, dense, mixed-use and transit-oriented building.

Co-owner Rob Buono led the presentation to more than two dozen people at Leona's restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta. The 16,000-square-foot property consists of two parcels, the corner lot and a strip across the alley shared with Wendy's. Covenants will allow renters to use Wendy's parking lot but prohibit quick-service restaurant tenants.

The new plan calls for ground-level retail, second-story office space and five floors to hold 50 to 70 rental apartments. A bank has signed a letter of intent as anchor tenant.

Architect Jon Heinert of Wheeler Kearns Architects showed a site plan that locates the bank along Ashland Avenue, with two eastbound drive-through lanes and a sidewalk to the south. Two or three other tenants would front Division Street. Ten perpendicular parking spaces west of the alley and five to the east allow traffic berth on either side.

Eliminate litter, win a prize

By Neal McKnight 

Everyday I come home to fliers strapped to my fence, stuffed in my gate or taped to my mailbox, for offers to repair my sewer, seal my basement or deliver a pizza. I know I am not alone. As I walk through the neighborhood I see piles of these fliers in doorways, gangways and parkways.

These fliers are wasteful because most of the paper ends up in the garbage. These fliers are costly because the city must clean our streets and alleys to get rid of them. These fliers are ugly, one of our primary sources of litter. And often they are illegal.

The East Village Association needs your help to solve this problem and clean up our neighborhood. At the same time, we can all help show how much of problem it really has become.

Pritzker School open house Oct. 15

Membership meeting minutes for Sept. 12, 2011
Submitted by Dana Palmer
Meeting commenced: 7:05 p.m.

Business Minute
Prasino Restaurant is focused on organic and local dishes, and open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Doors open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight weeknights and 1 a.m. weekends.

Dr. Joeniele S. Reese, principal of Pritzker School

Guest Speaker
A.N. Priztker School, 2009 W. Schiller, is one of two schools in Chicago that has a regional gifted center and a fine and performing arts program. It's also neighborhood school, which means that if you live within 1.5 miles of the school you are automatically enrolled. Pritzker has a diverse student body, active parent involvement and philanthropic funding from the A.N. Pritzker Youth Foundation. An open house is scheduled for 10 am-noon Oct. 15. The school currently has 678 students.

EVA is awarding a Dominick's $25 gift card to the person who collects the most handbills placed on their property and brings them to the next EVA meeting. This is an attempt to alert the alderman to the vast amount of handbills being distributed and the need to enforce the no-handbill ordinance.

What's next for Wood Street police station?

13th District station house, 937 N. Wood

Mayor Rahm Emanual confirmed Monday that police stations may close in Chicago's efforts to cut costs and add beat cops. In the Chicago Sun-Times, City Hall reporter Fran Spielman singled out the Wood Street station as a target for closing.

It's not a new issue: In 1992, consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton recommended that Mayor Richard M. Daley eliminate seven districts. Spielman's report this week noted that the 13th District station house, 937 N. Wood, is the only one in the seven districts that has not been rebuilt in the past decade.

The Wood Street station was built in 1960 and the station lockup has been out of use for at least four years.

Neighborhood volunteers faced these facts when introducing Ald. Proco Joe Moreno to 1st Ward issues in April 2010, and in discussions with his predecessor Manuel Flores in December 2009.

The East Village Association briefing paper for the new alderman is worth reviewing today to measure progress on community concerns. Here is EVA's statement on "Future Plans for Wood Street Police Station":

In recognition of the eventual relocation of 13th District Police operations from the Wood Street property, the EVA membership has expressed its desire to retain the property for community use. Wood Street is the main residential artery of East Village and has already established itself as a green corridor with three community gardens between Division and Augusta (Frankie Machine, Greenhouse Garden and the newly established Near North Montessori Farm). East Village's grassroots emphasis on gardening and parkway beautification (lead by Jeanne Felknor) and the growing interest in urban food production is making our neighborhood a green leader among urban communities. Using the Wood Street Police property to support additional community-focused activities is the next logical step.

Statement on Division-Ashland development

Paul Utigard (left) and Rob Buono present a plan for the Pizza Hut site at 1601 W. Division

Dear Alderman Moreno:

Rob Buono and Paul Utigard presented their proposed scheme at the East Village Association Board meeting last evening. The Board found that the preliminary proposal appears to meet all of the criteria that have been set forth for the development of this property:

1. Significant presence (79'-11" height across the majority of the site)
2. High Density (50-70 residential units)
3. Mixed-Use (ground floor retail, second floor office, 5 floors of residential)
4. Pedestrian & public transit friendly (no onsite parking provided)

Bigger plans at Division-Ashland site

By Scott Rappe 

For all supporters of a significant, dense, mixed-use and pedestrian/transit-oriented development at the former Pizza Hut Site, I want to get word out about a very positive development.

As some of you know, representatives of the East Village Association met with the owners of the former Pizza Hut property, Rob Buono & Paul Utigard, about a month ago. We were shown a proposal for a two story building. We reiterated our interest in seeing something more suited to the site, and they agreed to take another look.

This morning we saw the result: a building that matches the height and scale of the landmark bank to the north, with ground-floor retail, second-floor office space and five floors of residential rental, including a modest number of affordable units.

While the plan still includes a bank drive-thru, it provides no parking for the residential units, meaning no additional automobile traffic will be generated by the additional rental units. This in itself is a huge victory.

We have invited the developers to present the scheme to the East Village Association board at 6:30 pm Monday Sept. 19 at Leona's, 1939 W. Augusta. Please let me know if you would like to join us.

Thanks again for your support.

Eckhart Park as carnival midway? Brilliant!

The big top pitches alongside St. Boniface Church at Eckhart Park, 1330 W. Chicago Ave.

East Village residents can share items of interest in the EVA forums on Facebook, Yahoo!, Google and OhSoWe. So, why do so many ask us to post it here instead? The webmaster admits defeat:

Friday, September 16
Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements, till 10:15 p.m. Sunday, Eckhart Park, 1330 W. Chicago Ave. Circus acts, music, comedy, Renegade crafts and a farmer's market, in a crazy carnival named after a bumptious Thelonius Monk recording. It all seems a bit Misterioso, but Pitchfork impresario Mike Reed gives Chicago magazine as good an explanation as any.

Guinness Oyster Fest, 6-10pm, continuing 11-10 Saturday, 2000 W. Roscoe west to Leavitt. Human League and other bands, plus an Irish stage.

3 Card Molly, 5-7pm at Division, Damen and Western Blue Line stations. Out of Site street performances continue Fridays through Oct. 14.

Next round on Division/Ashland development

It's not a done deal. Developers return this month to Ald. Proco Joe Moreno with alternative plans for the former Pizza Hut site at the southwest corner of Division Street and Ashland Avenue.

Two plans are already on the table for 1601 N. Division. Robert Buono and Paul Utigard on Aug. 15 showed Moreno and East Village Association representatives drawings of a 40-foot glass and steel retail building for PNC Bank, half the height of the MB Financial Bank across Division, and a single-story version they said did not require zoning concessions.

Moreno pressed the developers to add affordable housing, and EVA sought a larger mixed-use building that that better addressed the busy Blue Line pedestrian traffic at the Polish Triangle. Buono said a bigger building presented more permission and construction hurdles. He claimed no bank would finance it, but conceded that he had not presented business plans for such a project.

Pritzker school at Monday EVA meeting

School is in session and lights shine brightly at A.N. Pritzker School, the neighborhood elementary school for most East Village homes north of Augusta Boulevard. Lighting, heating and air conditioning were updated over the summer at 2009 W. Schiller St.

Principal Joeniele S. Albert-Reese will give an update on school progress at the Sept. 12 East Village Association meeting at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

On state-mandated ISAT tests, 80.4% of students met standards, better than 46% of all schools in a Chicago Tribune analysis. Class sizes last year were smaller than the city average for upper grades and larger in lower grades; 625 pupils were enrolled.

Pritzker is known for its gifted and fine-arts programs. The former Wicker Park school was renamed a quarter-century ago for its benefactor graduate, an owner of the Hyatt hotel chain.

Pritzker, Peabody, Otis and Columbus schools serve East Village along with LaSalle II Magnet School, which this year took over the rest of the former Andersen Community Academy.

The EVA meeting begins at 7 p.m. with a short presentation on Prasino restaurant, newly opened at 1846 W. Division St.