EVA Monday: Ashland buses, Haddon apartments

The CTA's preferred plan for high-speed buses will slow traffic on Ashland Avenue and a half-dozen parallel streets, according to a federally required environmental assessment. Ashland traffic will get 10% slower and Damen 3%. Wood Street and the smaller north-south streets nearest Ashland were not considered.

Ashland would lose about 12% of its parking, which the study assumes would be absorbed by side streets.

Augusta Boulevard and a dozen other intersections would have to be reworked to avoid "unacceptable" rush-hour delays, the city's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit analysis says. However, the document says waits already are unacceptable at Diversey, Clybourn and four other crossings.

Residents can download the plan and email their comments to the CTA until Dec. 20. Catherine Garypie, who outlined the public comment process for EVA this summer, will give an update at Monday's East Village Association meeting.

Apartments proposed along Haddon alley

Wicker Park Apartments, west of alley behind Planned Parenthood (Brininstool + Lynch Ltd.)

East Village Association board meeting minutes, November 11, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Preservation, Planning & Development: 1515-17 W. Haddon St.
Mark Sutherland came to discuss his proposed transit-oriented, mixed-use development at 1515 W. Haddon near the Blue Line Division stop. Sutherland currently owns 21 apartment buildings and has been given awards for landmarked projects.

Haddon Street west from Milwaukee Avenue

Sutherland feels that the market demands smaller apartments right now, and so proposes 8 studios, 24 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and 1 large single-family unit in the top. This equals 44 units on floors 2 through 5, plus the 1 large unit on the 6th floor, totaling 45 units. Sutherland is aiming for LEED Silver certification, incorporating sustainable concepts such as solar, 50% green roof and electric vehicle parking.

David Brininstool of Brininstool + Lynch stated the architects are going for a light and airy feel with reflective metals on the exterior, and presented renderings of what the steel and cement building could look like. The height comes in at about 63 feet to the top of the 5th floor, and 73 feet to the top of the 6th floor, which is set back from the face of the rest of the building.

EVA President Neal McKnight said an effort should be made to incorporate larger units, possibly some three bedrooms to accommodate the possibility for families to live there. Concern was raised regarding the current safety of the area, and Scott Rappe suggested that a good building can change a location. Sixty people moving to the area as well as people coming to the real estate office on the ground floor could be a positive addition.

If everything goes as planned, Sutherland’s goal would be spring 2015 occupancy. At this time, rents could be expected around $1,300 for a studio, $1,500 for a one-bedroom and $2,100-2,500 for a two-bedroom unit.

For next steps, the developer will reconsider the unit mix to include some larger units. The EVA Preservation, Planning & Development committee and Sutherland’s group will keep in touch as the design progresses, and PPD will ultimately make a recommendation to the EVA membership.

Energy rebates, housing plans, tax appeals

East Village Association membership meeting minutes, Nov. 4, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

CNT Energy, Vito Greco (Energy Impact Illinois)

Free energy audits through the end of the year for 2-4 unit buildings. Up to $400 will be subsidized and the homeowner would pay $500 max. There are always programs and grants to help make your home more energy efficient. Even if you don’t take advantage of the rebates, air sealing and proper insulation will earn your money back quickly. Another big energy loss is through inefficient lighting. There is a free program to install compact fluorescent lights and low-flow faucets.

East Village planning & development discussion

We live in a changing neighborhood with many teardowns and new home construction. This could be seen as good fortune, but the EVA board has been discussing how we can continue a positive transition while maintaining the character of the neighborhood that draws people here in the first place. As a community group, we want to begin to discuss planning tools for our community.

Some issues and concerns we've seen are as follows:

  • There has been a loss of historic housing stock in projects that are often profit driven.
  • Density, housing types and unit mix must be explored. Where do we want density? What do we mean by density? What mix of single-family, condos, apartments, 1 bedroom units, 2 bedroom units, etc. do we think is appropriate? 
What are we going to do about it? How can we control it?
  • The inclusion of green space is also a priority.
  • Many have felt there has been a loss of both human and architectural diversity. It is very important that we respect the past while embracing the future.

West Town Library December events

By Jason Nosek, library associate

Chicago History Book Club
Please join us at the West Town Branch at 6:30pm Tuesday, Dec. 3 as we discuss the classic work “The Great Chicago Fire” by Robert Cromie.

The Chicago History Book Club explores the city’s history through reading and discussing books on events, themes, time periods and personalities that have contributed to making Chicago what it is today.

If you cannot join us, stop by at 1625 W. Chicago Ave. to pick up our next book, the bestselling “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson.

Shop for Good: Your gifts count twice

Buy your holiday gifts at participating Shop for Good businesses in Wicker Park & Bucktown and they will donate 10% of your purchases to the local school or nonprofit of your choice.

Shop for Good runs Dec. 6-8. Shop at participating business in Wicker Park Bucktown and generate donations for for the Polish Triangle Coalition, a group that includes the East Village Association.

  • Shop at participating Shop for Good businesses, find great gifts to purchase and generate a donation to your favorite local school or non-profit.
  • Request a duplicate receipt and write "Polish Triangle Coalition" on it. Request that duplicate receipt so your dollars count and Polish Triangle Coalition gets the 10% donation.
  • Place the duplicate receipt in the Shop for Good receipt box next to the register.
  • All instructions are on the Shop for Good receipt box, so it’s easy to Shop for Good.

Development's shadow over East Village: Your ideas?

President's Message
By Neal McKnight

The East Village is a beautiful neighborhood that is diverse in both people and architecture. However, as others have recognized the beauty of the East Village we have lost some of our diversity both in our people and our architecture.

The board of the East Village Association is seeking to explore ways of promoting diverse and responsible development. Too often families that are longtime owners of beautiful and historic homes are offered no opportunity to sell their properties other than to a developer who will demolish the existing structures.

Likewise many developers of larger remaining parcels seek zoning changes to accommodate more high-priced one-bedroom and studio apartments. These all-or-nothing propositions create a monochromatic East Village and undermine characteristics that make our community so attractive.

The board of the East Village Association believes that now is the time to begin discussions on a number of topics:
  • How can we preserve our existing historic housing stock?
  • How can we control the expansion of new condominiums so as to preserve our historic structures and create greater value for existing condominium owners by preventing oversupply?
  • What incentives can we offer existing property owners to provide greater choices other than a sale and ultimate demolition?
  • What tools can we develop to encourage and convince developers of larger parcels that a glut of studio rentals is neither economically feasible or in the interest of the community?
  • What tools can we develop to encourage the preservation and development of green space?

In the past these type of questions have tended to result in calls for more restrictive zoning, But there are other tools available that may create a larger more diverse group of persons and developers interested in investing in the East Village.

These tools include renovation zoning, zoning overlays, buffer zones, a determination of high-density versus low-density zones, pedestrian designations, expansion of the historic district and renovation and green space incentives. There are more but we are looking for good ideas from the community, the city or any other source.

Join us at the our next general membership meeting at 7pm Monday in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave., to begin the discussion and planning process. The East Village Association wants to embrace the future and honor our past.