North Avenue News Since 11/3

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By Judith Alexander

I hope the following items are of interest. For more frequent updates, please Like and Follow us on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/NorthAvenueNeighborsAssociation/  

And please join The North Avenue District's (T-NAD) Facebook group and the discussion of how to revitalize North Ave. (Austin to Harlem)  https://www.facebook.com/groups/107435609823334/?fref=mentions

BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND REAL ESTATE (On North Ave. between Austin and Harlem, even-numbered addresses are in Chicago, odd-numbered addresses are in Oak Park)

The 2-story office building at 6435-6441 W. North has been sold after ~6 months on the market. The 12,000 sq. foot multi-tenant property was listed at $499,000 and sold for $480,000.  That leaves another 11 properties available for sale  in The District.  This is the building where King Spa operated before it was closed down for prostitution.  A daycare center is opening in the same space.  I wonder whether the new center's owners bought the building.

Sources say there's still development interest in 6600-6700 W. North, where a proposed residential project failed to get support from Ald. Taliaferro, his advisory committee and the community. A mixed-use development is one potential project. Glad the failure of the proposed project hasn't scared other developers away. 

Edwardo's Pizza, 6831 W. North, and Sergio's Place, 6966 W. North were named Neighborhood Favorites on NextDoor.com https://nextdoor.com/recommendations/winners/?is=natl_winners  Both are also favorites of mine.  Sadly, Felony Frank's was named as well. I wish that was enough to keep it open. (See below.)

Sergio's Place also got a favorable write-up by Weds. Journal's food columnist. http://www.oakpark.com/Dining/Blogs/11-28-2017/Sergio-Talks-Food-&-Frida-Kahlo-(bonus:-pix-from-Frida's-House)/  The article claims that many Oak Parkers don't want to cross to the Chicago side of North to dine at Sergio's. Hey Oak Park readers, let's prove that wrong. Sergio's is a wonderful place, with delicious food (including great mole) and very friendly service. It was nominated this year for an OPRF Chamber Outstanding Customer Experience award.

By the end of December, Ald. Taliaferro expects to learn more about plans for the former Sears site at North/Harlem, perhaps including which local developer has been selected by property owner Seritage. Whoever is chosen, I think a planned development is in the cards, given the property's size and location.

Felony Franks, 6427 W. North, closed without warning on November 6th. Owner Deno Andrews said he couldn't cover increased costs related to property taxes and the new minimum wage in Cook County, partly because he has less time to run the business as an Oak Park trustee. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-park-felony-franks-tl-1109-20171106-story.htmlhttps://patch.com/illinois/oakpark/felony-franks-oak-park-closes-suddenly?utm_source=newsletter-daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=business&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_content=article-topstories&utm_slot=1;  http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-6-2017/Oak-Park-trustee-closes-restaurant-on-North-Avenue/?utm_campaign=WJ-News&utm_medium=Outbound-Email&utm_source=WJ-News-11-7-2017 This is very sad news. But, as Deno said, the North Ave. location was actually a plus for his business, which got a lot of support from local residents. I hope someone takes over the business or opens a new one in the same location. That said,  I've been worried about small business closings in Oak Park ever since the new minimum wage ordinance passed and property taxes went up so much.  This is a risk I think many passionate backers of the ordinance did not fully appreciate.

Classy Events, an event venue and planner at 6807 W. North, is closed. I'm not surprised. It's a small space without a liquor license or much parking. But I'm sorry to see it close. To its credit, its patrons never created a disturbance.

Business license:  Delta Demolition, 6832 W. North https://chicago.everyblock.com/business-licenses/nov08-delta-demolition-8378014/?utm_campaign=digest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=digest

As this Weds. Journal Viewpoints letter states, the North/Ridgeland Midas Muffler is poorly maintained. Village staff say it's difficult to get owner Midas corporate to respond. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-12-2017/Midas-should-apply-its-golden-touch/ Perhaps mounting fines would get their attention. In fairness, I've always been happy with their service.

GOVERNMENT/POLITICS

At its 12/11 meeting, the Oak Park Village Board approved up to 10 overnight permit parking spaces on N. Marion, between North Ave. and the alley.

On 12/6, the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously in favor of special use zoning for a 6-unit townhouse/loft apartment project on the 6600 block of W. North Ave. Here is a Wednesday Journal story about the project http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-28-2017/New-housing-planned-for-North-Ave.,-Madison-St./ And an op-ed cheering this and similar in-fill projects in Oak Parkhttp://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-28-2017/Some-quiet-wins/ Congratulations to the developer, Jade Sky Realty!

The Village received two proposals to develop the vacant lot it owns at 6641-6643 W. North. The Oak Park Economic Development Corp. has reviewed both proposals.  Its recommendations will be considered by the Village Board in January.

Per Ald. Taliaferro, Chicago-side North Ave. property owners and Galewood residents can start applying for the city's shared-cost sidewalk program on January 9th. Sidewalks can be repaired for much less than what a private contractor would charge. Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Click this link for more information: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/street/svcs/shared_cost_sidewalkprogram.html

Meetings were held in November to discuss/plan two studies for The District: a land use/redevelopment study by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and a transportation study overseen by the Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT).  Attendees included Ald. Taliaferro or his representative, Oak Park staff, State Sen. Harmon's district director, and representatives of CDOT, CMAP and T-NAD.  Both studies are expected to begin and end in 2018. There will be as much coordination as possible to avoid duplication of efforts.

Decorative garbage cans on both North Ave. and Harlem are among the projects chosen by 29th Ward voters for participatory budgeting funds. It's expected that these will be in place in the summer of 2018. (Chris Taliaferro is one of ~ a dozen aldermen to give residents a voice on how their ward's discretionary budget is spent.) http://austintalks.org/2017/12/29th-ward-residents-choose-community-projects-to-be-funded-in-2018/

Trustees voted unanimously at the 11/6 Village Board meeting to allow speed bumps/tables on the 1200 N. blocks of Columbian, Euclid and Linden. (Staff didn't support this, due partly to safety concerns.)  Before installation, a public hearing and 60-day waiting period (for special service area implementation) are required. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-north-avenue-speed-tl-1109-20171107-story.html Congratulations to these residents! Some say you shouldn't live on the first block south of North Ave. if you can't deal with traffic conditions. But as one resident says in the article, traffic on these residential streets has become much worse as North Ave. has grown increasingly congested over the past few years. Many (maybe most) 1200 N block residents purchased their homes when things were not nearly as bad.

A pedestrian safety island is planned for North Ave. at Melvina. It will be funded by the Austin Commercial TIF, part of which extends along North from Cicero to Narragansett. It was also selected as a participatory budget project in 2016. This is long overdue. There are currently no pedestrian crosswalks between Austin and Mobile.

THE NORTH AVENUE DISTRICT (T-NAD) The organization formerly known as the North Ave. Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC) became incorporated as The North Avenue District in October 2016. But its goal remains the revitalization of North Avenue from Austin to Harlem.) You are cordially invited to join T-NAD's Facebook group and be part of the discussion of how to revitalize North Ave. (Austin to Harlem) https://www.facebook.com/groups/107435609823334/?fref=mentions

Three T-NAD board members attended the 12/6 ZBA meeting to support Jade Sky Realty's special use zoning application. As mentioned above, the developer wants to build a townhouse project on the 6600 block of North Greg Marsey and I spoke in favor of the project. But in T-NAD's opinion, special use zoning should not be required to build North Ave. townhouses. The vacant lots on the Oak Park side of North are too small for large-scale development. And quality residential projects will help bring vitality to the district and customers for our many fine businesses.

On 11/1, The Wednesday Journal published an op-ed lamenting the demise of a proposed apartment project at 6600-6700 W. North in Chicago.  http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-31-2017/Short_sighted-on-North-Ave./ This op-ed called North Ave. (between Austin and Harlem) a "sad sack of a street". Here is T-NAD's response. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-7-2017/Don't-forget-North-Avenue's-strengths/

CRIME AND SAFETY

CHICAGO

The North Avenue Business Subcommittee meets on the 3rd Thursday of odd months; next meeting is on January 18th at 1:30 p.m. at the 25th District HQ (Grand and Central). The Business Liaison Officer is Officer James Mackin; (312) 746-5090,James.Mackin@chicagopolice.org.  The Business Subcommittee is a great way of working with Chicago police to make the North Avenue District safer and better.  CAPS (community policing) meetings for Beat 2513 (North to Armitage, Austin to Harlem) are held the fourth Tuesday every other month, 6:30-7:30 pm in the Amundsen Park fieldhouse, 6200 W. Bloomingdale.  Next meeting is January 23rdGalewood residents and business/property owners are encouraged to attend.

OAK PARK  (Zone 1 is bounded by North Ave., Ridgeland, Chicago Ave. and Austin Blvd.  Zone 2 is bounded by North Ave., Harlem, Chicago Ave., and Ridgeland)

Zone meetings are held monthly at 7 pm.  Zone 1 meets on the month's third Tuesday at Hatch School; next meeting is Tuesday, 12/19.   Zone 2 meets on the first Tuesday at Mann Schoolnext meeting is Tuesday, 1/2. North Oak Park residents and business/property owners are encouraged to attend. Citizens are urged to report any suspicious activity to the Police Department's Anonymous Crime Tip Hot Line at 708.434.1636. Anonymous tips also can be made online at www.oak-park.us/crimetip. Please notify Public Works (publicworks@oak-park.us or 708-358-5700) to report street lights out, pot holes, dead animal carcasses, gym shoes on cable/telephone wires, signs in parkways, etc.

In Zone 1, October crime was down from September and unchanged relative to 10/2016.  In Zone 2, October crime was down relative to both 9/17 and 10/16. Crime in both zones was up on a YTD basis.

Oak Park police have made another arrest in connection with three recent carjackings in NE Oak Park.http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-12-2017/Oak-Park-police-arrest-teen-for-three-carjackings/;  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-carjacking-arrests-tl-1214-20171212-story.html

Oak Park held two heavily-attended community meetings (12/7 and 8) to address a series of carjackings.  They emphasized that, though the most recent have occurred in NE Oak Park, the others have happened all over town.  Of the 16 carjackings in 2016, police have made eight arrests. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-8-2017/Oak-Park-police-hold-meeting-on-uptick-in-carjackings/;http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-park-police-meeting-tl-1214-20171208-story.html

Several local law enforcement agencies are collaborating to address carjackings and other gun-related violent crimes. (No link available.) In this op-ed, the Weds. Journal praises police openness and calls for faster communication when carjackings occur. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-12-2017/Straight-talk/

Employees of business on the 6600 block of W. North robbed at gunpoint http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-north-avenue-robbery-tl-1207-20171205-story.html; (See under Robbery sub-head) http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/12-12-2017/Alleged-robber-shot-at-Chicago-Ave.-7_Eleven/  In response, Sassetti—a neighboring business—has increased the range of its security cameras and urges other North Ave. businesses to do the sameGreat idea from a great, longtime North Ave. business. Sources say the robbery took place at Wellness Spa, 6617 W. North.

Thanks for your interest in North Avenue and best wishes for a joyous holiday season.

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