Marshfield-Paulina alley swap proposed

Existing alley configuration, EVA’s recommendation

By Scott A. Rappe

A 36-unit residential development has been proposed for the vacant land that connects the 800 blocks of Marshfield and Paulina. This development presents a rare opportunity to increase pedestrian safety, improve city service delivery, enhance automobile circulation and increase the potential for green space, by simply restoring the original alley configuration of the block.

The redundant east-west alley was created when the original alley was removed to construct a now-demolished parking garage. This alley interrupts the sidewalk on both Paulina and Marshfield, disrupts normal traffic flow and threatens pedestrian safety. Additionally, the new development will require a private alley to facilitate parking and trash pickup, adding more paving to the block.

The East Village Association has asked Ald. Proco Joe Moreno to facilitate a trade of the east-west alley to the north of the property in exchange for the developer dedicating the original alley right-of-way back to the city. This swap would enlarge the developer’s property by 1,400 square feet and widen the property by 14 feet, allowing for normal-size lots, more efficient parking, increased green space and less paving than the current configuration. In exchange, EVA will expect the development to adhere to the setbacks and open-space requirements of the RM4.5 zoning.

Free child ID at West Town library

Steve Quick Jeweler, 12th District police commander at EVA

Billboard at 1934 W. Chicago Ave.

East Village Association membership meeting minutes for April 1, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Business Minute: Steve Quick Jeweler
Store manager Sarah Wortman recently opened Steve Quick Jeweler at 1909 W. Division St. Steve Quick opened his flagship store in Lincoln Park 26 years ago, expanded to a second location in Lincoln Square five years ago, and just this past fall opened his Wicker Park store. Wortman said that Quick looks for spots with a lot of character. The jeweler is known for bridal sets but offers a large selection and can fix watches. Customers can create their own wish lists so loved ones know exactly what to get for special occasions.

The business has been running an electronic billboard ad for the past three weeks or so, and residents are concerned that this doesn’t mesh with the community’s negative stance on the billboards. An EVA member pointed out that she is keeping track of which local businesses are advertising, and will subsequently set up a neighborhood boycott of those businesses. Many in the community feel that the billboards are obtrusive, not neighborhood-oriented, and a public safety issue. EVA has also been focusing on pulling away from auto-oriented commerce. Wortman pointed out that Steve Quick has always been neighborhood oriented and did not realize the effect on the neighborhood. She welcomes the feedback and will take it into consideration.

People also applauded the new Steve Quick storefront, which has a baseball theme currently. Wortman said Quick wants the windows to stand out even when the store is closed and the jewelry is not on display.

Division SRO goes upscale, garage site residential

1659 W. Division

Planning, Preservation & Development minutes for April 15, 2013

Robert Baum and Mike Downing, new owners of 1659 W. Division, will rehab and continue to operate single-room occupancy apartments. The business plan is to offer corporate housing contracts to law firms, hospitals and other service businesses at a lower price than executive housing. Most units will continue to share bathrooms, but with updated plumbing. Main entrance will be on Division Street. The building will have 24-hour staffing, video monitoring and a first-floor retail tenant. The building will be reconfigured to 35 units (from 38) and rates to about $2,000 a month (from $400). Parking will be offsite on private lots, with no valet. The operator will contract for commercial refuse service. Units will not have full kitchens; the first floor will have a lunchroom.

The architect, owner and developers of a vacant lot at 819 N. Paulina (John Hanna, Rogelio Llamedo, Alex Negonechny, Andriy Stetsyuk) presented revised plans for 6 six-flats, largely conforming to R4.5 zoning per EVA request but with short setbacks. Scott Rappe suggested the development presents an opportunity to improve street views and pedestrian safety by vacating second (north) alley created for former use as city parking garage. Builder asked for more units and owner for expedited review. Ald. Moreno said his office would investigate feasibility, and Rob Schickel will get neighbor feedback.

5-6pm at 1st Ward office, 2058 N. Western Ave. Attending: Neal McKnight, Gladys Anselmo, Scott Rappe, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Rob Schickel, Tom Tomek; Proco Joe Moreno, Raymond Valadez; Robert Baum, Mike Downing, John Hanna, Rogelio Llamedo, Alex Negonechny, Andriy Stetsyuk.

What makes a good neighborhood? Put a number on it

Division & Ashland development

EVA Planning, Preservation & Development minutes for April 11, 2013
Submitted by Kok Keng Goh, with Gladys Anselmo

Peter Locke recapped purpose of the meeting: University of Illinois-Chicago urban planning graduate students are looking ahead to what future development in East Village might look like. Joshua Hahn is working with the East Village Association on a master plan that might be incorporated in Chicago planning and zoning. Ada Morgan and Andres Acosta are involved in a Local First Chicago effort to identify metrics to track development impact. East Village could be a case study for a neighborhood scorecard based on the metrics.

Neal McKnight noted recent conversations on local business: Owners gather neighborhood data to determine feasibility of setting up an enterprise. East Village's reported household income doesn't seem accurate or reliable; better data would aid neighborhood planning and attract businesses aligned with current demographics.

Hahn commented that Chicago data are often aggregated and difficult to access at the local level. He wants to understand the desired direction for East Village development, planning issues at the core of the neighborhood, and EVA's philosophy of how we define a good neighborhood.

West Town crime: March 2013

West Town March 2013

In West Town, 341 crimes were reported in March, according to information gathered from the City of Chicago data portal and reported by the Chicago Tribune. There were 27 violent crimes vs. 34 in March of 2012, a 21% drop. The 241 property crimes represented a 25% drop from 320 the year before, and the 73 quality-of-life crimes was half the 147 reported last year.

Redbox fest, Peabody hearing, development plan

CPS community meeting
About 50 community members testified at an April 8 meeting on the Peabody-Otis school merger. Next hearing is 5-7pm Friday at Clemente High.

East Village Association board meeting minutes for April 8
Submitted by Kok Keng Goh

Speakers for May 6
Congressman Mike Quigley, Mary McInerney of Business Minute: MB Financial (home mortgages, loans), Comrade Cycles. Consider reaching out to Polish Museum, Hoosier Mama.

West Town Library community event sponsored by Redbox
Redbox contacted the West Town library to fund a community connector event, to promote the creative-artist community. Redbox has chosen five U.S. cities, Chicago being one of them, and only West Town library was selected. Gladys Anselmo is spearheading the event, expected by July or September. Other community organizations (Chicago Grand, Eckhart Park, Commercial Park) were contacted.

Suggested ideas include displaying artwork on building and library windows (vendor contacted for projection on building); festival during the day in open parking lot (from 12-8pm); vendor booths. Free for visitors to attend, with Redbox to pay for all setup. Local business owners and artists to be contacted; stipends for performers.

Due to timing constraints, decision was for Redbox to first sponsor smaller cities and Chicago for later to allow more planning time.

Peabody School closing
Stephen Rynkiewicz represented EVA at Monday's community meeting. Comments and questions were recorded by notetakers, for response at a later date. The draft consolidation plan does not indicate how curriculum would be added at Otis Elementary to accommodate an influx of new students. The EVA board wants concerned parties to weigh in on next steps.