Wellsapalooza: Wells High School Field of Hope fundraiser

Forbidden Root: In the brewers' own words

East Village Association members will vote Monday on whether to support zoning and licensing changes for the Forbidden Root brewery to operate at 1742-50 W. Chicago Ave. Rootmaster Robert Finkel and brewer Robert (BJ) Pichman describe their proposal.

Forbidden Root will be the first botanical brewery in the country, crafting its brew around all natural herbs, roots and spices. It would like to open its headquarters, brewery and tap room in the long vacant former Hub Theater at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. As a “Benefit” corporation, it intends to donate all of its profits from non-consumable merchandise to worthy not-for-profit causes, initially the Green City Market.

Forbidden Root proposes locating its brewery and R&D operations in the rear of the building. The capacity of the on-site brewery will be limited and larger-scale brewing and bottling will occur at a remote location. The front portion of the building will be refurbished to provide an inviting tap room where customers can experience the company’s products. Seating capacity in the tap room would be limited to 150 persons. A small area for the sale of Forbidden Root products also will be located in the front portion of the building. The on-site retail sale of packaged alcohol will be limited to Forbidden Root brand products or products created in collaboration with Forbidden Root.

The production portion of the Forbidden Root proposal requires the rezoning of the property from B1 to C1. Forbidden Root has agreed to pursue such rezoning under a Type 1 rezoning, which keys the rezoning to specific plans and also to specific operations parameters. The on-site sale at retail of alcohol will require lifting the tavern moratorium in effect along Chicago Avenue from Ashland to Wood. The entire area covered by the moratorium is zoned B1. As taverns are not permitted in B1 zoning, lifting the tavern moratorium will not open the door to additional taverns in the area. The package liquor moratorium in effect for the same area is not currently proposed to be modified.

Forbidden Root will bring a unique, responsible and exciting new business to Chicago Avenue. A long-vacant building will be refurbished and returned to productive use. Forbidden Root is pursuing the needed approvals in a fashion that addresses all concerns raised about its proposal. It has agreed to make the conditions and limitations on its operations part of its approvals. As a community and environmentally conscious company, Forbidden Root will be positive addition to the area and revitalization of the long vacant Hub Theatre will further enliven Chicago Avenue.

Alderman Moreno: Chicago Avenue apartments vs. park

East Village Association board meeting minutes, April 14, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

Fifield project, 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno stated that the Fifield Cos. can build 39 units as of right, but the new plan is to upzone for 59 units. The Fifield position is: We can do more bedrooms at the higher zoning but we’re not, and we can do a higher floor-area ratio but we’re not. Fifield does not feel it can build a connection to Commercial Park as requested at the last EVA board meeting.

Fifield wants to build a larger building than allowed, so the law requires on-site affordable units on-site or a donation to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Affordable Trust Fund. Fifield wants to make a donation to the fund. The city has determined that legally this donation cannot be a space donation to a nonprofit, as EVA has discussed. Moreno expressed a general concern with developers donating to the fund instead of providing affordable housing, absence extreme circumstances, although he acknowledges it's allowed. Although the city declined to allow a donation to a nonproft, Moreno would like to explore that idea for future projects.

Moreno believes expanding Commercial Park to the Chicago Avenue sidewalk at this location would be a "real big win" and he will dedicate money to park expansion if that happens. He believes about 4 or 5 weeks is needed to see if the Park District can acquire the property. Ronda Locke stated that a meeting with the Trust for Public Land has been scheduled and the Park District has been keeping Locke informed of its progress. Locke is working to get all stakeholders in one room for a meeting. Locke believes 4-6 weeks is needed.

Board members expressed some concerns about the Fifield project to Moreno, including a concern that the donation to the fund appears to be “zoning for sale.” Board members also expressed an interest in the creation of affordable housing in East Village. Moreno advised EVA to balance benefits from a larger project versus Fifield building as of right. He would like to give the park expansion 4-5 weeks. If acquisition isn’t happening, we will need to look at this issue again. If upzoning happens, he advised pursuing Type I zoning.

Robberies: 12th District (Near West)

Please see the attached Community Alert for our area and be extra cautious when walking alone or in small groups. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. —Molly Murray

About the crime: This alert gives notice to citizens in the 012th District (Near West) of robbery incidents which have occurred during the month of April. In these incidents, offenders approach victims from behind, strike them in the back of the head with a hard object and take their personal belongings. Incident times and locations are listed below:

  • 2200 Block of W. Superior St. on April 13, 2014 at approximately 12:01 a.m.
  • 1400 Block of W. Chicago Ave. on April 13, 2014 at approximately 4:30 p.m.

About the offenders: Offender descriptions vary, but are generally described as: Two to four male/black offenders, 18-20 years of age, 5'8" - 6'0" One female/white offender, 18-19 years of age, 5'4"

What you can do:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately.
  • f you are confronted by an assailant remain calm.
  • Remember any unique physical characteristics (scars, limp, acne, teeth, etc...).
  • Never pursue a fleeing assailant, provide the information to the police.
  • If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.
  • Dial 9-1-1 immediately and remain on scene when possible.

If you have any information, contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area Central (312) 747-8382

HX221974, HX222330 Reference: P14-1-074

Ashland BRT plan stops short

Membership meeting minutes, April 7, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

Ashland BRT

The CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit proposal would cut Ashland Avenue traffic lanes from four to two, to dedicate the interior two lanes to express buses. The plan keeps two parking lanes, and eliminate left turns from Ashland except at highway access points. Details are at transitchicago.com/ashlandbrt.

Primary benefits of Ashland BRT are:

  • Decreasing travel time (decrease of about 8 minutes from 35th to Irving Park) and increasing reliability for the large number of public transit users on Ashland.
  • Supporting businesses along Ashland Avenue.
  • Connecting rail and other bus lines.

EVA has not taken a position to date, although it has provided information regarding process in prior meetings. EVA has heard presentations from the CTA, the Active Transportation Alliance and the Ashland-Western Coalition. Nearby neighborhood groups have taken positions. The Environmental Assessment for the Ashland BRT was released on Nov. 19, 2013, and the public comment period ended Dec. 20, 2013. Two public meetings were held by CTA during the public comment period.

The question before the membership is: Does EVA oppose the Ashland BRT as it is currently proposed by the CTA? The board expects to revisit this issue if the CTA alters the Ashland BRT proposal in the future.

EVA Monday: Ashland BRT vote

Bus lanes along Ashland Avenue will be up for a vote at Monday's East Village Association meeting.

Members will vote on the CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit as currently proposed: "Based on information EVA now has, is EVA for or against the Ashland BRT?"

Reflecting concerns about the design, the EVA board last month left open the possibility of revisiting the issue if the plan changes.

And changes are likely. The $160 million Ashland BRT proposal would restrict inner lanes to buses and emergency vehicles. Medians would stay in place. Bus stops would replace the left-turn lanes.

The city's new transportation commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, now wants to keep left turns on some intersections. As the CTA's planning officer, Scheinfeld was responsible for the original design.