BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND REAL ESTATE
- At Ald. Taliaferro’s 4/18 community meeting, the North/Harlem Sears site owner and developer shared preliminary plans. These plans call for the Sears building to be redeveloped with ground floor retail, three levels of condo or rental apartments above, and probably parking in the basement. (There will be similar development of the Sears automotive site on Harlem.) The rest of the Chicago site will have landscaped parking and townhouses. It will be at least 6 months until plans are finalized and at least 1½ years after that before the project is completed. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/4-24-2018/Developers-reveal-plans-for-North-Ave.-Sears-site/?utm_campaign=WJ-News&utm_medium=Outbound-Email&utm_source=WJ-News-4-24-2018 Glad this property won’t be languishing undeveloped for years. Commercial space already is being advertised for lease. The developer is talking with several prospective tenants.
- There are not yet drawings or plans for the 6700 W. North building (once St. Paul Federal’s HQ), per Ald. Taliaferro. Lease negotiations continue for a ground floor library. Keeping our fingers crossed!
- Surf’s Up is open at 6427 W. North in Oak Park (Felony Frank’s former location). The place was very busy on opening day. Looks like they have a real following. This is their third location. Can’t wait to try the fried shrimp and salad topped with seafood.
- Investors have purchased the former Market Fresh building at North/Harvey in Oak Park. Sources say they’re interested in renting to another grocer but are open to other tenant types, and might be willing to make some improvements.
- Sources say that 6039 W. North, Oak Park—current home of CY Beauty Supply—will be sold sometime this year and torn down. No word yet on what the new owner will build in its place. Perhaps it could be consolidated with the adjacent vacant lot to the east.
- JLL is the new leasing agent for the former Walgreen’s building at North/Mobile in Chicago.
- Looks like Prime Time Snacks is getting closer to opening in the former SAV Electronics space at 7016 W. North in Chicago. There’s now a counter where customers can pull up a stool to eat.
- It also seems that Dog Day Afternoon is closer to opening at 6939 W. North in Oak Park. It’s looking more and more like a fast food restaurant inside.
- 6553-57 W North is for sale (east corner of North/East Ave. in Oak Park). It has 5 offices now but could be converted to part-residential with a zoning variance. It will be interesting to see what happens with this property. As of April, there were 8 other District properties for sale including a few that are fully leased. There were about 50 retail/office spaces available for rent, with some for sale or rent.
- There will be a Wonder Works Children’s Museum golf outing on 7/27. http://www.wonder-works.org/events/golf/2018/index.html If you’re a golfer, please attend and support this important North Ave. institution.
- Old Second National’s acquisition of ABC Bank closed in mid-April. ABC Bank had a branch and administrative offices at 6400 W. North in Chicago. Sources expect the branch to stay open; no word yet on the administration office. Sorry to lose what was essentially a bank HQ in the District.
- The OPRF Historical Society’s 5/6 housewalk featured homes in north Oak Park for the first time. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/4-24-2018/’Tales’-housewalk-highlights-homes-of-the-1920s/; http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-column-dechter-tl-0416-story.html Glad to see north Oak Park get some overdue attention. How about a tour that includes the Galewood neighborhood to our north next time? There are many interesting homes there, including the one where Hugh Hefner grew up.
- Buona Beef–with a long-time location at 7025 W. North Ave. in Oak Park–is the 2018 winner of Goldbely’s Munch madness. Congratulations!
- Harold’s Chicken has closed at 6606 W North Ave. in Chicago. This is disappointing, but the food there didn’t seem as good as at other Harold’s locations.
- A “Win Cash” sign is still hanging in the window of Spin City, 6522 W. North. Gambling for cash is illegal in Chicago, but prizes of coupons (and perhaps gift cards) are legal. Since coupons/gift cards can be redeemed for cash, this sign may be deceptively exploiting another loophole.
- Here’s more information on next year’s race for 29th Ward alderman and the candidacy of community activist Dwayne Truss. http://austintalks.org/2018/04/longtime-austin-resident-wants-to-lead-29th-ward/; http://www.austinweeklynews.com/News/Articles/4-10-2018/29th-Ward-alderman-gets-challenger-/
- You’re invited to the next meeting of the Des Plaines River & Trail Coalition, a group formed by the Active Transportation Alliance to address access/connectivity along the Des Plaines River Trail, from Touhy to North Avenue. It’s on Wednesday, May 23rd, noon – 2 pm at the Franklin Park Police Dept. building’s community room (9451 Belmont Ave.). Imagine biking on a paved trail from North to Touhy, then connecting to other trails you can ride all the way to Wisconsin. Wouldn’t that be great?
- A new North Ave. crosswalk is going in at Melvina this summer, financed by the Austin Commercial TIF. (The TIF extends along North Ave from ~ Lamon west to Narragansett). Finally, we’re getting a north/south crosswalk between Austin and Narraganset. Thanks to Ald. Taliaferro and his staff for their work on this.
- A new water main is going in on the Chicago side of North Ave. from Narragansett to Austin. The same main will be replaced on Austin Blvd. from North to Bloomingdale. Construction should be completed by mid-May. The lining of a Chicago-side sewer running along North Ave. west of Oak Park Ave. already has been replaced.
- North Ave. businesses and north Oak Park residents may be affected by this summer’s repaving of Kenilworth Ave. from Greenfield to Thomas. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/4-17-2018/Oak-Park-approves-$1.4M-for-street-improvements/
- Ald. Taliaferro is still seeking community block representatives. Please call the ward office if you’re interested or need more information: 773-237-6460. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0c1018748d53b6a11536e8215/_compresseds/56c71dcc-1149-4856-aa3a-4cfb21138284.jpg
- The 29th Ward Galewood Business Development Committee sponsored a North Ave. clean-up day on 5/5. A big thank-you to everyone who pitched in.
- Ald. Taliaferro and Mayor Emanuel held a 4/11 press conference at the 25th police district HQ to announce a $10M grant. The grant will further the work of the U of Chicago crime lab.
- Graffiti was removed within 24 hours of service requests on the 1600 blocks of N. Neva and N. Harlem in Chicago. https://chicago.everyblock.com/service-requests/apr16-graffiti-removal-closed-8597576/?utm_campaign=digest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=digest; https://chicago.everyblock.com/service-requests/apr16-graffiti-removal-closed-8597578/?utm_campaign=digest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=digest An impressively speedy response!
- On 4/24, River Forest had another residents’ meeting on the proposed North Ave. TIF. River Forest wants the TIF to be competitive with neighboring communities, but no specific plans yet. (There is already an Elmwood Park TIF on North Ave. from Harlem to 1 block west.) There are no plans to seize property via eminent domain. Residents are encouraged to attend meetings on 5/31 and 7/9. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/4-25-2018/RF-asks-resident-opinion-on-proposed-North-Avenue-TIF-/ It sounds like this meeting was more polite and respectful than similar meetings in February.
- River Forest has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit of Keystone Montessori, 7401 W. North. Keystone is seeking property tax exemption as a nonprofit. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/4-24-2018/Village-asks-court-to-toss-Keystone-Montessori-lawsuit
THE NORTH AVENUE DISTRICT (T-NAD)
The former 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. Please join T-NAD’s Facebook community group and be part of the revitalization discussion https://www.facebook.com/groups/107435609823334/
- The first meeting of the CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) North Avenue Plan Steering Committee is scheduled for May 11. The plan to revitalize North Ave. from Austin to Harlem is jointly sponsored by Chicago’s 29th Ward and the Village of Oak Park. Steering committee members include elected and staff representatives of Chicago, Oak Park, Cook County, and the State of IL, along with government agencies concerned with economic development, planning and transportation. Chambers of commerce and community organizations are represented as well. T-NAD applied for and received a grant from CMAP for this study.
- No word yet on the start date for the Chicago-Oak Park traffic study of North Ave. from Central to Harlem. This study will look at ways to improve traffic safety, mobility and pedestrian-friendliness. Some community meetings and interviews will be scheduled in conjunction with the CMAP North Ave. plan.
CRIME AND SAFETY
- At Ald. Taliaferro’s 4/18 community meeting, 25th District Commander Escamilla said Galewood crime is down. There have been no shootings or murders in the last 12 months. There is more continuity of personnel and more use of technology, including shot spotter (which pinpoints where a shot was fired). Technology also enables integrated information for all three watches (shifts). In a follow-up discussion with Ald. Taliaferro, Commander Escamilla agreed to step up patrols of Galewood, and to assign a unit to address theft from vehicles (including tires).
- Ald. Taliaferro supports a new anti-loitering ordinance proposed by 28thWard Ald. Ervin. http://www.austinweeklynews.com/News/Articles/4-30-2018/Residents-back-alderman’s-anti_loitering-proposal-/
North Ave. Business Subcommittee meets on the 3rd Thursday, odd months; next meeting on 5/17, 1:30 p.m., 25th District HQ (Grand/Central). The Business Liaison Officer is Officer James Mackin; (312) 746-5090, James.Mackin@chicagopolice.org. CAPS (community policing) meetings for Beat 2513 (North to Armitage, Austin to Harlem) are held the 4th Tuesday every other month, 6:30-7:30 pm in the Amundsen Park fieldhouse, 6200 W. Bloomingdale. Next meeting is May 22nd.
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)
- In March, crime was up slightly in Zone 1 relative to the prior month and March 2017. But crime declined almost 22% on a year-to-date basis.
- March crime was up more substantially in Zone 2 on a month-to month basis and relative to 3/2017. YTD, crime increased from 21 to 27 incidents.
Zone meetings are held monthly at 7 pm. Zone 1 meets on the month’s3rd Tuesday at Hatch School; next meeting Tuesday, 5/15. Zone 2 meets on the first Tuesday at Mann School; next meeting Tuesday, 5/8.Suspicious activity can be reported to the Police Dept’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 (firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-358-5700) to report street lights out, pot holes, dead animal carcasses, gym shoes on cable/telephone wires, etc.