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Showing posts from November, 2007

A Post Office Progress Report At Six Months

By Scott A. Rappe, encouraged postal customer After decades of abysmal service, things at the Wicker Park Post Office came to a head earlier this year. At the April EVA meeting, Mr. Carlos Johnson, newly appointed Wicker Park Branch Customer Service Manager, faced an angry mob brandishing pitchforks and torches. We were told that improvements were in the works, but might not be noticeable for six months. Well, Mr. Johnson has moved on, and six months have passed, but have things improved? My guarded answer is: Yes. I have tracked postal service accuracy since May, grading delivery on eleven different aspects, such as whether someone received my mail, or I received someone else’s, and recurring problems like multiple advertising circulars jammed into my mailbox or left on the stairs creating a tripping hazard. Given the weak excuses for the poor service (high carrier turnover and routes without permanently assigned carriers were the usual explanations) we endured for so long, the imp

There will be pizza at this month’s General Membership Meeting

The EVA Holiday Party will be held at this month’s meeting. EVA will supply the pizza and members are encouraged to bring a side dish to share. Bring a neighbor / friend to this months meeting. Spread the holiday spirit with your neighbors and fellow EVA members!

Planning, Preservation and Development Committee Report

by Scott Rappe Pizza Hut/Walgreens We sent a package to Commissioner Randall of the Department of Planning & Development and copied Mayor Daley and his Chief Environmental Officer, Sadhu Johnston. The package included copies of letters of support from several community groups, both chambers of commerce and numerous businesses and individuals as well as the many newspaper articles that have covered the issue. The Chicago Journal published an editorial supporting our position too. And there is a positive sign: Following Walgreens’ presentation at the November EVA meeting, the company approached Alderman Flores with a modified plan. Although no details have been released, the company is apparently looking at including additional tenant retail space in the building. Although this still falls far short of what we are looking for, it does show that the company is taking our concerns seriously. Bear Stewart While much attention has been focused on the southwest corner of Ashland and Divis

EVA Membership Committee Update

by Brian Thompson The membership committee is composed of Brian Thompson, John Scheer, Guy Rudolph and Scott Van Den Plas. With a listing of new property owners in hand, Brian Thompson and John Scheer have focused on recruiting new East Village Association members by visiting new East Village residents and delivering a copy of the latest EVA newsletter. We would like to thank Greg Nagel of Cedar Realty for providing the listing of new East Village property owners. Also, joining EVA or paying your EVA membership dues just got easier! Both new and current members can now pay dues online via PayPay or credit card. Simply go to the EVA website ( www.eastvillagechicago.org ) and click on "Join EVA/Pay EVA Dues" in the lower left corner, then follow the prompts. It is that easy! Finally, please bring a buddy to the Tuesday, December 4, 2007 @ 7 p.m. East Village Association pizza party at Happy Village Tavern (corner of Wolcott and Thomas Streets). We hope to see you there.

Do Division Holiday

Saturday, December 1st Division Street between Ashland & Leavitt—11 AM Guests will be treated to free live theatre, deep discounts from local boutiques, delectable dining specials, complimentary spirits, an illuminating tree lighting and more! The streets and shops of the Division Street Corridor will act as a winter wonderland jaunt full of wonderful surprises and merriment during the Division Street Merchants Association's annual family-friendly Do-Division Holiday Walk festival on Saturday, December 1, 2007. Shopping and strolling begins at 11 a.m. and continues throughout the evening, with a grand Holiday Tree Lighting at Anderson Elementary School at 7 p.m.

East Village Association General Membership Meeting Minutes

7 PM November 4 , 2007, Happy Village Tavern Former Pizza Hut – representatives from developer Inter-vision made a presentation for their schematic design for a Walgreens building on the site. See article this newsletter. Former Andy’s Deli space – 1721 West Division- representative from developer made a presentation for their schematic design for a two-story Mexican restaurant at that site. See article this newsletter. No treasurer’s report. No head count was taken.

East Village Association Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

6:30 PM November 12th, 2007, Happy Village Tavern Submitted by John Sekowski Board Members in attendance:8 Non-board members:2 Walgreens Division and Ashland – The first Ward Alderman is seeking to extend the “Pedestrian Street” designation from its current border at the Post )ffice to Ashland. This designation includes restrictions such as storefront windows and no curb cuts. East Village Association Board of Directors Meeting MinutesScott Rappe sent a letter to the Planning and Development of the Chicago Building Department summarizing the Walgreen’s presentation and the concerns of the neighborhood residents. Perhaps the most impacting issue that will get their attention is that this development is not in accordance with the Near NW Side Master Plan that the Planning and Development of the Chicago issued in 2002. John Sekowski will attempt to prepare a history of the former Pizza Hut site from city directories and building permit records. Rich Anselmo will try to get quotes from the

Ashland and Division: A Brief Recap of the Issues!

by Scott A. Rappe, AIA Since March, when Pizza Hut closed, we have advocated for a better use for this prominent site. The fact that there is no single argument for our stance, but rather several distinct ones, strengthens the validity of our position. Here is a brief overview of why we need a multi-use, multi-story, transit-oriented development on this site: Increased community density provides a greater customer base to attract and retain the types of local businesses we all want. Focusing this density on the perimeter of the neighborhood, near public transit options, reduces the number of cars and the intensity of traffic in the community. Satisfying some of the local housing demand with a large multi-use building, rather than through continued demolition and construction of multiple small structures uses less material and energy for construction and results in lower longterm operating costs. A large building at this corner, mirroring the MB Bank, will create a gateway to the Divisi

1st Ward Aldermanic Liaison Report: Why Ald. Flores voted against city budget

by Greg Nagel I met with Alderman Flores on 11/19/07 to discuss EVA business. Despite the Alderman’s lobbying for the Wood station lockup to be re-opened, this was not included in the city budget. Consequently, he did not vote to support the budget. However, he did do a ride along with the police last week and his takeaway was that the neighborhood was fairly quiet and things were improving. I also spoke with the alderman regarding the proposed Walgreens at the Ashland Division corner as well. He indicated that Walgreens had floated a new proposal to him that did include an additional floor of retail with parking on the roof. This proposal is still short of what we as a community organization have been lobbying for , but it does show some movement by Walgreens. The alderman and I also discussed the proposed zoning change at 1916-1924 West Chicago Avenue. The issue here is this property sits on in two different zoning classes so the developer, Ranquist wants a zoning change. However,

HANCOCK HOLIDAY MOUNTAIN RAILROAD!

Preparation for the 14th Annual Hancock Holiday Mountain Railroad is on track! The elaborate miniature railroad, which will run daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through January 2nd, will delight visitors of all ages as it winds its way through the holiday scenery. Free to the public, this display will be located in the lower concourse level near the entrance of The Hancock Observatory. Over three million Chicagoans and visitors have enjoyed this wonderful holiday scene over the past twelve years. This year’s 1,400-square-foot model train exhibit features 12 trains nestled in a glen of snow-covered trees with attractions along the rails, including an animated tree farm, a cable car to Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys, a Snowman family, a ski slope, a working Christmas carnival, the North Pole, a Cows on Parade section, a skating rink, a reindeer barn, and a Christmas Village with dramatic waterfall and special Christmas train geared toward young children. In addition to the Hancock Holiday Railr

Neighborhood leave stamp on mail carriers

For the East Village mail carrier, attempting “the swift completion of his appointed rounds” sometimes leads to striking out for another neighborhood. Station managers for the 60618, 60622 and 60647 ZIP codes told the post office's 1st Ward Customer Advisory Council that rapid change in the mail-carrier ranks contribute to late, missed and inaccurate delivery. Letter carriers here get the itch to move on not from the travels of Herodotus, who inspired the postman's motto, but from the rigors of routes packed with apartments and condos and rife with address changes. Senior carriers are more likely to bid for easier routes covering downtown high-rises, according to a report from the council on its Nov. 13 meeting. That means here the mail must go through their less-experienced replacements. Sick-day replacements need even more time to learn a route's quirks. Because post offices have so little dock space, the managers asked neighbors to bear with trucks lining up to loa

Ashland and Division: An Environmental Perspective

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by Scott A. Rappe For ten years EVA’s Planning, Preservation & Development Committee has battled developers bent on overbuilding in areas where such density would strain City services, create traffic congestion and make the neighborhood less livable. We were not always successful, and the results are all around us. Now, for the first time, the East Village Association has actively called for a site to be developed beyond what its current zoning would allow. This is an unusual position for a community organization, yet, ironically we are still met with opposition by an ignorant and stubborn developer. A gateway to a transit-oriented development (view west from Polish Triangle) In this era of growing environmental awareness, dense urban communities like West Town are the most promising models for sustainable living. Just living in renovated buildings in the center of the City puts all of us at the cutting edge of sustainability, in a way that driving a hybrid vehicle to a solar power

Watch This Space: Walgreens' Designs for Division and Ashland

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by Stephen Rynkiewicz Plans for a Walgreens drugstore at the southwest corner of Division and Ashland have grown, but not enough for residents seeking a building on the scale of the MB Bank across the street. Interra-Vision Development at the Nov. 6 EVA meeting displayed designs for a 12,000-square-foot, cast concrete building with second-floor storage. Proposals started with a single-story building. Keeping plans modest for the former Pizza Hut lot, according to the developer, were the common space required for multiple tenants, the uncertainty of selling condo space and the need for approval from the neighboring Wendy's restaurant. Further west on Division, a Southwest-theme restaurant would open in the former Andy's Deli space in February at 1721 W. Division. Owner Bobby Burrelson, owner of Kincade's , Twisted Lizard and 10 other Chicago bars and restaurants, said Angels & Mariachis would be a two-story restaurant with sidewalk cafe and 10 big-screen TVs to appeal to

President's Message: EVA Holiday Party

by Mary Szpur We have two important presentations coming up at our November meeting (please see announcements in this newsletter). One involves the proposed development of the former Pizza Hut property at the corner of Division and Ashland. As this is a prominent location and important commercial corner, any development at this location will affect our community and Division Street specifically for many years. Now is the opportunity for community input, so please attend the November meeting. EVA December Holiday Pot-Luck Party Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, December 4, as the date for East Village Association’s holiday party at Happy Village. This year, EVA will provide the main food course, and we are asking you to help out by bringing an appetizer or a dessert, if you can. If your last name begins with A-L, we ask you to bring an appetizer, and if it begins with M-Z, we ask you to bring a dessert. We encourage you to buy beverages from Happy Village, who has been supporting

Attack From Above!

by Scott A. Rappe While I was preparing breakfast earlier this week, my six year old, Nicholas, ran in from our third floor deck. “Daddy! Daddy! Come out here and get rid of the pigeon head before mommy sees it!” He had stumbled across the grizzly evidence of an avian murder. It was a mystery: we had never seen a cat on our deck, and felt certain we could rule out a fox, coyote and cougar, though all of these creatures have been seen in the City in recent years. Later that day I relayed the story to my brother Doug, who replied: “What you’ve got is a Peregrine falcon!” The pieces all fit together. In 1970, Peregrine falcons were put on the endangered species list. None lived east of the Rocky Mountains and populations were declining in the west. Their rapid decline was the result of the pesticide DDT, which weakened eggshells and decimated the reproduction cycle of the birds. Biologists bred peregrine falcons in captivity and reintroduced them, both into the wild and into urban env

Planning, Preservation and Development Committee Report

by Scott Rappe 1916-24 West Chicago Avenue Ranquist Development’s presented its case for a zoning change at the October general meeting. The property in question is unusual in that it is zoned both RT-4 and B3-2. Ranquist Development’s intention was to tear the existing buildings down. In the questions and discussion that followed, it was clear that most members did not want to see the buildings demolished, though at least one member did voice the opinion that a new building might spur development on Chicago Avenue. The Board directed the PD&D committee to write a letter to Alderman Flores opposing the zoning change. In a follow-up conversation, Alderman Flores stated that he wholeheartedly agreed that the building at the corner of Winchester and Chicago cannot be torn down. He denied Ranquist Development’s request. Ashland & Division (Pizza Hut) Property The East Village Association’s advocacy for a mixed-use, multi-story transit oriented development continues. Representatives

Aldermanic Liaison Report

By Greg Nagel I met with Alderman Flores on 10/23/07 to discuss EVA business. The Alderman indicated to me that he had a meeting the other day where he is lobbying to bring back the lockup at the Wood St. police station. Furthermore, he indicated he is also lobbying to ensure that our patrol and gang officers are never pulled out of our district which has been periodically happening during busy weekend hours. We discussed the handbill ordinance and I relayed to him the group’s concern regarding what appears to us as a lack of enforcement. I expressed to him that we are looking for a process where there is regular enforcement. Alderman Flores indicated that he is going to follow up with the Department of Streets & Sanitation, Manny Gonzales, and will get back to me.

Commission on Chicago Landmarks Fall Workshop

By Greg Nagel I enjoyed the opportunity to attend this fall workshop held in Old Town on 10/20/07 and wanted to pass on some interesting takeaways. Landmark Tax Incentives Mike Ward, IL Office of Preservation Services in Springfield, addressed the group and discussed the different tax incentives available to contributing landmark buildings. Anyone living in such a building that is considering doing a significant renovation should look into the available programs. As you learn about these programs it is easy to have literally dozens of questions. However, here is a very short summary that will perhaps give you enough information to determine if this is something you want to investigate further. Property Tax Assessment Freeze – Residential program administered by the State (IL Historic Preservation Agency – IHPA). The assessed valuation is frozen for 8 years and then brought back to market over a 4 year buildup. To qualify it must be a contributing landmark building, a residential
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