Nest in your nest egg

President's Message | By Greg Nagel  

Many of us in this neighborhood nest in our nest egg. By nest I mean that our home is our castle, our sanctuary, and the place where our families eat and sleep. Our home and the associated lifestyle in our neighborhood are important, and are worth protecting and shaping.

By nest egg I mean that for most of us our home is our single biggest investment, and our financial security is largely tied to our property value. Right now in America, 1 in every 5 homes is upside down: We owe more money to the bank than what the home is worth. It has been a very hard and scary market, and I'm sure many of us our do not have the sense of financial security we did five years ago when our homes were worth more. Financial security can be as important to everyday happiness as a clean, comfortable neighborhood environment.

A high-end grocery store can improve our lifestyle. A low-end liquor store can detract from our lifestyle. Developments can improve property values, like high-end single families or perhaps Chicago Bowl. Others can lower values, like tattoo parlors or distressed properties. Understanding and balancing both nest and nest egg concerns, I've been a proponent for "responsible" development in our neighborhood. To me, responsible development balances our nest and nest-egg interests.

For many years we have been frustrated with the lack of development on Chicago Avenue and in particular the 1900 block, and this has been the subject of much conversation. At our last EVA meeting the membership unanimously approved Chicago Bowl, a 23,000-square-foot, high-end entertainment complex on the 1900 block of Chicago Avenue. We now have an opportunity to get two additional businesses on the 1900 block as well.

One is Bleeding Heart Bakery, which is a really interesting, fun, and hip business that virtually everyone is in favor of and excited about. The second is Roots, a pizza restaurant that will serve liquor and is situated on the corner of Chicago and Winchester. There are understandingly some concerned residents, particularly the Winchester residents that live near Chicago Avenue. However, these businesses come as a package and are being developed by the same team.

So for our nest egg, we have two additional businesses that will greatly enhance Chicago Avenue and property values. And for our nest, Bleeding Heart Bakery improves the lifestyle of its neighbors and Roots will also provide some lifestyle value to the neighborhood, but will also bring some negative lifestyle concerns.

Wouldn't it be great if we could have the all the benefits of these businesses without drawbacks? Well, that is not realistic. However, it is possible to get all of the benefits and to mitigate the drawbacks. Substantive concessions from the Bleeding Heart Bakery/Roots developers will reduce the neighbors’ noise and alley concerns.

Will we have our cake and eat it too? Will our nest maintain its comfort and will our nest egg grow? I'm waiting to hear exactly what concessions the developers are willing to make before I decide personally whether I support the project.

However, based on what they can build as a matter of right and what they are seeking, they are likely to open with a much smaller noise footprint if we can reach a compromise.

As we enter the holiday season, I'm hopeful that as divisive as this issue may become, we can debate it in a respectful way. Happy holidays!
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