Shopping for solution to Trader Joe's traffic

A Trader Joe's grocery store is proposed for the southeast corner of Division and Honore. The consultant Kenig Lindgren O’Hara Aboona submitted a draft traffic study.

East Village Association minutes for May 12, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

Neighborhood associations

Neal McKnight represented EVA in a meeting with the Wicker Park Committee, Bucktown Community Organization and Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association. (Chicago Grand Neighbors Association will join soon). Main discussion: More festival transparency is necessary. CGNA is considering the letter McKnight circulated to the board on May 8.

Festival issues to be addressed include: Where is money is being spent, distributing safety and traffic plans beforehand to groups, consistent donation amounts, specifying gate or net for the donations, etc.

Other issues to be addressed by this group of neighborhood associations: Ashland Bus Rapid Transit, Special Service Areas, police issues. More SSA meetings are needed in the evening, Requests For Proposals. There's a group consensus that SSAs should stay but there should be management changes.

Anything else to bring to this group of neighborhood associations? Let McKnight know.

Developer proposals

McKnight suggests: EVA will not consider a development proposal based upon a donation to EVA or another neighborhood organization. Wicker Park Committee has told developers the same thing.

Fifield Cos. said to EVA recently: We will give $200,000 to Commercial Park for the park if EPA will agree to upzone. This approach tends to split the neighborhood (“Why won’t EVA let the developer give money to the school?”).

So a developer with a proposal can give money, but if they present it as an “either or” EVA will turn the developer away. The developers use the money as a “carrot or stick” approach. Also, the donation agreements are unenforceable. Michael VanDam will draft a proposal for the development committee to consider:

Please note: The East Village Association will not take into consideration any promise of donations, pledges, or other monetary or non-monetary "soft dollar" arrangements to any community organization or institution in its evaluation of a proposed project. If such a donation is offered to the East Village community, it should not be contingent on any decision by EVA and should be made in writing to the community through a letter to the relevant Alderman with a copy to EVA. If a contingent donation is presented to EVA, EVA policy is to decline to review the developer’s request and immediately deny notify the relevant alderman that EVA does not support the developer's request.

What happened to $400,000 from developers of 1611 W. Division? There was no promise for $400,000. The promise was for a traffic study for an island on Division west of Ashland. An island would mean no left on Division into bank or Wendy’s, no left from Division onto Marshfield OR into CVS. McKnight is following up.

Walkways around Wood are not painted and some corners don’t have curb cuts. Does Alderman Moreno have menu money for this?

Stop signs for pedestrians on roadway: Can we get maintenance on those?

Trader Joe's traffic study: Smithfield Properties (Kevin Henning, Jim Houlihan), Kenig Lindgren O’Hara Aboona (Michael Worthman)

S: Smithfield bought the property on the southeast corner of Division and Honore, and planned a 5-story residential mixed use building with 52 apartments. The community objected, and Smithfield downsized its plans to a 4-story residential mixed-use building with 7,700 square feet of commercial on the first floor. The property was rezoned to support this density (“Type 1”), with rezoning completed in early 2013.

In late 2013 or early 2014, Lettuce Entertain You had a disagreement among partners and stepped away from first floor commercial space. At the same time Trader Joe’s approached Smithfield regarding the property, looking for a spot in Wicker Park. It's now spring 2014 and the proposal is rolling out.

We’re having meetings with LaSalle II school to understand how Trader Joe's can fit in. We’re proposing a 14,000 square foot store. This is slightly smaller than some TJs, but is a common size for city locations. The total square footage for commercial space on the first floor will be 4,000 square feet plus two other commercial spaces on the east side of property (1,800 square feet each). TJs parking will only be for TJs customers.

EVA: West Town Chamber of Commerce's last newsletter said a significant chunk of TJs parking will be available for other businesses for up to 90 minutes.

S: That is incorrect. However, TJs doesn’t police their lots, there are no gates, and TJ customers can still use the lot to go to both TJs and other businesses. At Diversey TJs, they rarely find more than 35-40 cars (except on weekend) in their 80-car lot.

We changed zoning from B-3-2 to B-3-3 (Type 1, so the zoning will be specific only to the plans submitted) in early 2013. We want to go back to B-3-2 zoning. Truck loading and unloading will be on Honore. Similar to Diversey TJs, we’ll have between 73 and 77 parking spaces – still working on final number. There were concerns raised at the LaSalle II LSC meeting in March 2014, mainly traffic.

EVA Forbidden Root discussion & vote

East Village Association minutes for May 5, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

WELLSAPOLOOZA (Susan Nusbaum, Wells HS)

The Wells ball field will provide space for baseball, softball, women’s softball, little league and soccer. $1.6 million is the cost. The school's working with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation on funding, and with Ald. Proco Moreno and Rep. Cynthia Soto.

A fundraiser is 4:30-8:30pm Friday, May 16, with 6 bands and a taste of Wells. Admission is free, but you pay for food & there will be a silent auction. Principal Rituparna Raichoudhuri and former principal Ernesto Matias will be at donation table.


Forbidden Root would be the first Botanical Brewery in the world. The location on Chicago Avenue will hold the headquarters, R&D, some production, taproom, some package sales and offices. Production would be limited to 9,000 barrels a year. Main production and mass bottling will be offsite. The taproom will be in front. Forbidden Root will not serve other alcoholic products (no Bud, Miller, etc). Several coolers also will limit sales to Forbidden Root products. Forbidden Root does not intend to be a liquor store or bar.

Forbidden Root is a “benefit corporation” organized in Maryland. Benefit corporations are basically required to be a good neighbor, be good to the environment. Forbidden Root will donate all profit from non-consumables (shirts, hats, etc) to nonprofits in the area (currently Green City Market; others may be added).

Forbidden Root will apply for C1 zoning. This C1 zoning will permit certain uses. Tavern moratorium will need to be lifted; Forbidden Root couldn’t get ordinance changed. Zoning designation B1 (Ashland to Wood) does not allow taverns. Therefore, the tavern moratorium won’t mean more taverns – we’ll have the only C-zoning.

FR has worked with EVA on a Plan of Operation. The plan does not allow certain activity and contains certain requirements.

Neighborhood groups unite on festival transparency

The Bucktown Community Organization, the Wicker Park Committee, the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association and the East Village Association recognize that festivals can bring a vibrancy to an area, introduce new people to our neighborhoods, and provide financial benefits to certain community organizations. The Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village & East Village communities support a limited number of such events, provided such events are properly managed and work with the community to ensure that these potentially positive results can be realized.

As such, the neighbors of Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village & East Village request the following from all festivals in our neighborhood, including Wicker Park Fest, Do Division, Green Fest, West Fest, Fashion Fest:

  • Complete transparency of festival financial statements. Including a detailed breakout of sponsorship, vendors, beer sales, grants, expenses & donations (at minimum, for the prior two years).
  • Inclusion of neighborhood groups in each festival’s logistics, safety & police plans in a timely fashion so they can have input and inform residents of what to expect.
  • Understanding that profits vary by fest, we would like more consistency between fests in our neighborhoods regarding the portion of proceeds that go to community organizations.
  • If the festival decides to take donations, they must post signage explaining how the donation will be used. (Chicago law states that you can’t charge admission to the public way) This should include an established percentage of the gate to be donated to the identified non-profit, excluding festival organizers.
  • Each festival takes the responsibility to make sure any community organizations or non-profits receiving are legitimate and are using proceeds as stated to go back into the neighborhood on a timely basis.

Together we feel strongly that more transparency and consistency among fests in our neighborhoods will result in safer festivals, reduce aggravation among community members, and provide more tangible benefits to the community and community organizations.

EVA Monday: What we're voting on

East Village Association members vote Monday night on two high-profile Chicago Avenue developments. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno often seeks input from community groups on zoning, land use and licensing issues; these votes advise him. (While the City Council's making the decision, nearly always it follows the home alderman's recommendation.)

At 7pm in Happy Village, 1049 N. Wolcott Ave, the meeting starts with a progress report on the Field of Hope ballpark plan for Wells Community Academy High School. A $2.5 million fundraising drive continues with a May 16 fundraiser at the school, 936 N Ashland Ave.

Forbidden Root brewpub vote breaks precedent

Forbidden Root brewery site, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.
President's Message
By Neal McKnight

The East Village Association will vote Monday on a proposal that would allow the Forbidden Root brewery to locate and operate in East Village. A vote to allow the brewpub would change a position EVA has supported since 1992: to maintain liquor moratoria on parts of Division Street and Damen and Chicago avenues.

The board’s decision to schedule a vote was not made lightly and was made only after a great deal of thought and deliberation. Neither the board nor its Planning, Preservation & Development committee is recommending how members should vote.

The decision was made as a result of unique set of circumstances.

A significant number of our members and others in the community expressed a desire to reconsider the liquor moratorium to allow the Forbidden Root brewery to locate on Chicago Avenue. And despite a written commitment by Ald. Proco Joe Moreno to not lift any liquor moratorium anywhere within the boundaries of the East Village Association, he's expressed a desire to lift this moratorium. Therefore, the board's asking the general membership to consider whether to oppose the lifting of the tavern moratorium on Chicago Avenue between Wood Street and Ashland Avenue. 

A membership vote not to oppose his action would constitute the East Village Association's partial release of Ald. Moreno from his written pledge regarding liquor moratoria. The release of this written commitment would be limited to this stretch, the single tavern moratorium and subject to the continued alderman's written commitment in other areas.

This issue raises a number of concerns. Our board members were concerned this decision would be interpreted as a lack of respect for EVA's commitment to a long-standing position on liquor licenses, or that the decision was made out of political expediency. However, these concerns were outweighed by our desire to be representative. By being democratic, we believe the East Village Association stays relevant and engaged with our members and community. EVA continues in its mission to plan for the maintenance and improvement of both the physical and social environment of the community.

The deliberation around this proposal and the East Village Association's input has resulted once again in a proposal that is far better for the community than was originally presented. After significant negotiations with the owners of Forbidden Root and their lawyer, Forbidden Root agreed to a number of controls on its operation. Forbidden Root would agree to Type 1 zoning, a plan of operation and abandonment of their request to lift the package liquor moratorium.

It's now up to the membership to decide whether these controls justify a zoning change and lifting of the tavern moratorium. Please come to the May 5 meeting to vote on this proposal, at 7pm in the Happy Village at 1159 N. Wolcott. The East Village Association is only as strong as its members, and your participation is important.