Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Coasters for a Cause at Six Flags Great America

Teamwork Englewood Coasters for a Cause at Six Flags Great America May 17 and May 18, 2014.

If your interested in going to Great America between now and May 17- May 18, 2014, purchase your tickets using the Promo Code: TEAMFUN. Tickets can be order online  fro half off at $29.00.

A portion of tickets sold will be given to Teamwork Englewood

For more information download flyer here

Written by Teamwork Englewood - Latest news

April 23rd, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Who, Why, and How Communities Oppose Affordable Housing

This is Part 3 in a series on NIMBY and affordable housing. To catch up on the rest of the series, read Part 1 and Part 2. -- In this post, we continue to discuss the results of our survey of affordable housing developers in New York State on their experiences of community opposition to their development projects. Out of 75 developers—nonprofit and for-profit—responding to our survey (a response rate of 50 percent), 70 percent have experienced at least one incident of community opposition. In our first post, we discussed why these developers pursue affordable housing projects, what types they build, and what funding sources they use. In our second post, we analyzed where opposition occurs, what types of developers and projects are targeted most, and when during the project cycle community opposition is most likely to occur. In this post, we present who opposes affordable housing development projects in New York State, what specific concerns are raised by communities to justify their opposition, and what tactics they most commonly use. Individual residents and organized resident groups are the most frequent sources of opposition, but public agencies and officials can also be vocal opponents. We asked developers to choose how local opposition is most typically organized, based on their experiences. As shown in the pie chart below, residents were the lead opponents according to almost three out of every four developers. For 38 percent of developers, resident opposition was typically staged by unorganized individuals. Another 35 percent said organized resident groups—such as neighborhood associations, homeowners associations, and community coalitions—led opposition efforts to their affordable housing development projects. Perhaps most surprising, almost one out of every five developers said that a public agency or public official was the primary source of opposition to their projects. Getting residents on board seems a critical strategy for developers to pursue. This is an area where public officials and planners, and transparent planning processes and communication, could help, especially when coupled with our findings that local opposition is most frequently experienced at the time of local approval of the development project.

Written by Rooflines

April 23rd, 2014 at 2:17 pm

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Alderman Moreno: Chicago Avenue apartments vs. park

East Village Association board meeting minutes, April 14, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

Fifield project, 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno stated that the Fifield Cos. can build 39 units as of right, but the new plan is to upzone for 59 units. The Fifield position is: We can do more bedrooms at the higher zoning but we’re not, and we can do a higher floor-area ratio but we’re not. Fifield does not feel it can build a connection to Commercial Park as requested at the last EVA board meeting.

Fifield wants to build a larger building than allowed, so the law requires on-site affordable units on-site or a donation to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Affordable Trust Fund. Fifield wants to make a donation to the fund. The city has determined that legally this donation cannot be a space donation to a nonprofit, as EVA has discussed. Moreno expressed a general concern with developers donating to the fund instead of providing affordable housing, absence extreme circumstances, although he acknowledges it's allowed. Although the city declined to allow a donation to a nonproft, Moreno would like to explore that idea for future projects.

Moreno believes expanding Commercial Park to the Chicago Avenue sidewalk at this location would be a "real big win" and he will dedicate money to park expansion if that happens. He believes about 4 or 5 weeks is needed to see if the Park District can acquire the property. Ronda Locke stated that a meeting with the Trust for Public Land has been scheduled and the Park District has been keeping Locke informed of its progress. Locke is working to get all stakeholders in one room for a meeting. Locke believes 4-6 weeks is needed.

Board members expressed some concerns about the Fifield project to Moreno, including a concern that the donation to the fund appears to be “zoning for sale.” Board members also expressed an interest in the creation of affordable housing in East Village. Moreno advised EVA to balance benefits from a larger project versus Fifield building as of right. He would like to give the park expansion 4-5 weeks. If acquisition isn’t happening, we will need to look at this issue again. If upzoning happens, he advised pursuing Type I zoning.

Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

Moreno supports the new Forbidden Root proposal, an upzone from B to C and a lift of the tavern liquor moratorium running from Ashland to Wood for one year. Moreno stated that he realizes he has a history with EVA, a 2-year agreement was made a year ago, and the agreement means something. However, he stated “I think it would be fantastic for the neighborhood.” Moreno believes that the “all or nothing” liquor moratoria are outdated compared to the proactive Plan of Operation now attached to liquor licenses at the start (rather than as problems arise).

Regarding zoning, Moreno indicated that small urban distillaries are the new economy, rather than traditional manufacturing such as steel mills.

Board members expressed concern about the inconsistent zoning change and questioned the level of effort made to amend the ordinance rather than lift the moratoria. Convenience stores might come in if the package liquor moratorium is lifted, and more property owners possibly would also seek to upzone from B to C. There was some frustration that Forbidden Roof would not need these changes if operating as a restaurant.

But discussion also noted that Moreno has lifted moratoria in Logan Square and no problems have resulted and that there have been no problems with Garden Gourmet (although several board members have reported conditions that contradict its Plan of Operation). Forbidden Root has been open regarding its plan and working well so far with EVA on a Plan of Operation. It was also suggested that other businesses at that parcel may be more disruptive to the neighborhood, and that the space has been empty for an extended period.

Moreno pointed out that if Forbidden Root violates any Plan of Operation attached to its liquor license, it can lose that license. In addition, the zoning ordinance provides protection. He also points out that there's currently no other C property in that liquor moratorium area, and both Chicago Grand Neighbors Association & EVA would be consulted were there such a request. Moreno noted that larger taverns are causing problems in the ward.

Moreno touched briefly on a few other issues: He does not support a Public Place of Amusement license for Fatpour and he has concerns about the traffic information provided thus far by Trader Joe’s. (Moreno leaves at this point.)

Fifield Cos. Chicago Avenue presentation

Fifield is an experienced developer asking for EVA support to build a larger project than what they now can build. As of right, they can build 27 units with a 2.2 floor area ratio. They want to build 59 units with a 2.29 FAR. In addition, they could build: 111 bedrooms, but only want to build 107 bedrooms. Fifield noted that if they build as of right they will not pay into the low-income housing fund, but if they upzone there'll be a donation to the fund. They would like the donation to go to Commercial Park if possible.

After discussions with the board, Fifield has reworked the green wall, garbage placement (now inside bldg), parking/ traffic flow and design of the back of the building (which will now look similar to the front). Final design has not yet been selected because of a decision not to use split-face block. Fifield noted that the building will be professionally managed and units will be priced as low as $1,250 for a studio. Fifield noted that there will be no roof deck and no big lights. The unit mix will be 5 studios, 18 1-bed, 24 2-bed, 12 3-bed (59 units, 107 bedrooms total). As of right units can be very large and therefore more expensive. They noted that they cannot qualify for tax credits since the units will be market rate. Fifield will repave the alley and will explore permeable paving. The company plans to use green building and design techniques to meet LEED certifications, but Fifield does not plan to have it certified.

In conclusion, Fifield asked for the EVA board support and to give a full presentation at the May 5 general membership meeting.

Forbidden Root Presentation (7:20 pm)

Forbidden Root presented its current proposal to use the building for its headquarters. The space on Chicago Avenue will have brewing, serving and sales of package liquor (only Forbidden Root products). Brewing will be in back, space for 150 people will be in front. Also in front will be a few small coolers for package sales. Forbidden Root will rezone from B to C with Type I restrictions, plus a moratorium lift and a tavern liquor license with an attached Plan of Operation. Forbidden Root may ask to lift the package liquor moratorium and apply for a package liquor license at a later date. The Plan of Operation attached to the tavern liquor license will include restrictions such as hours, amount of beer being brewed, occupancy, signage, truck routing, salt on the sidewalks, safety monitoring, and reporting trouble to police. EVA is still expecting to provide additional comments on the Plan of Operation.

Forbidden Root tried to create an amendment to the package liquor moratorium basically allowing sales incidental to brewing operations. Moreno presented the amendment, but Liquor Commissioner Greg Steadman would not support the amendment, fearing it would “water down” the moritoria and cause many new license issuances citywide.

The brewery acknowledges that if both the package and tavern moratoria are lifted, businesses on other parcels in the moratoria area would not be able to get tavern liquor licenses, but they could (with B zoning) get package liquor licenses. Therefore, Forbidden Root is “holding off” on requesting a package liquor license. It believes the amount of package liquor sales under their current plan is “incidental to tavern operations,” and so a package liquor license is not required. Forbidden Root asks EVA to agree with Moreno and lift the tavern moratorium on Chicago Avenue from Ashland to Wood.

The board asked questions about the amount which Forbidden Root and its landlord are investing in the structure (about $2.5 million), when it will open if EVA agrees with the upzoning and moratorium lifts (6-9 months), the term of the lease (5-year periods with 2-4 renewals available), the primary location of package sales (off-site), the price point for beer (about $11 for a 4-pack), the source of the beer to be served on-site (kegs of year-round “flagship” beers from off-site delivered about once per week, plus special beers brewed on-site), why the proposed ordinance was written so broadly (Forbidden Root expected to negotiate away what they did not really need).

Forbidden Root asked EVA to remember that if someone has a restaurant they can sell as much liquor as they want. Forbidden Root has not set a percent or dollar amount for when package liquor sales will increase enough to make a package liquor license necessary, and will not place a restriction of this nature in the Plan of Operation to be attached to its liquor license. It expects the majority of its on-site revenue will be from consumption on premises. The goal is to show off the brand. (Forbidden Root leaves at 8pm.)

Board discussion (7:30-8 pm)

Fifield: The Planning, Preservation and Development committee will make a recommendation.

Forbidden Root: Neal McKnight will ask the board to vote by email: Does the board want to submit this question to the general membership? Should EVA release the alderman from the agreement as to the tavern moratorium?

May 5 membership meeting

There will be no business minute. Fifield will present. McKnight noted that the donation to the fund by Fifield will be $200,000. Forbidden Root will also present at the meeting.

Membership/ contributions website

The board will go over voting rules in the bylaws at the May 5 meeting. The board will try to ensure that a copy of the bylaws is present at every general membership and board meeting.

Started 6:10pm, adjourned 8:15pm at West Town Branch Library, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. Board member attendance: Neal McKnight, Dan Johnson, Catherine Garypie, Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo, Meghan Delong Quinn, Tom Tomek; Ald. Proco Joe Moreno.

Written by Webmaster

April 23rd, 2014 at 2:01 pm

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You Must Remember This: Uses of the Past in Community Development

“History is bunk,” declared Henry Ford to a newspaper reporter in 1916.  “The only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”  Although widely derided for his gruff dismissal of every pioneer and precedent that laid the foundation for his own industry, he was merely voicing a popular sentiment of his day – and ours.   We are a people who would rather look forward than backward.  Indeed, Americans are famous for their fearless embrace of the future – and notorious for their willful ignorance of the past.  We constantly remake our world and reinvent ourselves, with scant regard for who and what came before. That’s no less true in our own field.  Those of us who are designing, assembling, or operating the shiny new vehicles of community development seldom look back.  We are called to action by the crumbling infrastructure, lost jobs, broken lives, and lousy housing of today.  Making things better here and now is what matters the most, a case of do or die.  Who has time to wonder how the story began? It’s not just the breathlessness of what we do that keeps us facing forward; it is also the discontinuity that comes from a natural progression in who is doing it.  Many of the field’s pioneers are passing from the scene.  They are giving way to a new generation of practitioners who come to community development with enormous enthusiasm and impressive technical savvy, but with little knowledge of the origins and evolution of the field in which they’ve chosen to work.  That’s true for every generation, by the way.  It was certainly true for me and mine.  I remember a meeting at the Highlander Center in East Tennessee in the 1970s.  Twenty budding young community organizers were gathered in a circle of rocking chairs, earnestly discussing political strategy.  Standing at the edge of the room, listening silently to the spirited conversation about poverty, power, property, democratic participation, and economic justice was Myles Horton.  After an hour or so, someone turned to Highlander’s founder and asked him to comment on the proceedings.  With a twinkle in his eye, he slowly replied “Well, I’m disappointed to hear you spinning your wheels, debating the same things we were debating in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties.  But I’m encouraged to see there are so many more of you debating them.”

Written by Rooflines

April 22nd, 2014 at 10:31 am

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Robberies: 12th District (Near West)

Please see the attached Community Alert for our area and be extra cautious when walking alone or in small groups. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. —Molly Murray

About the crime: This alert gives notice to citizens in the 012th District (Near West) of robbery incidents which have occurred during the month of April. In these incidents, offenders approach victims from behind, strike them in the back of the head with a hard object and take their personal belongings. Incident times and locations are listed below:

  • 2200 Block of W. Superior St. on April 13, 2014 at approximately 12:01 a.m.
  • 1400 Block of W. Chicago Ave. on April 13, 2014 at approximately 4:30 p.m.

About the offenders: Offender descriptions vary, but are generally described as: Two to four male/black offenders, 18-20 years of age, 5'8" - 6'0" One female/white offender, 18-19 years of age, 5'4"

What you can do:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately.
  • f you are confronted by an assailant remain calm.
  • Remember any unique physical characteristics (scars, limp, acne, teeth, etc...).
  • Never pursue a fleeing assailant, provide the information to the police.
  • If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.
  • Dial 9-1-1 immediately and remain on scene when possible.

If you have any information, contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area Central (312) 747-8382

HX221974, HX222330 Reference: P14-1-074

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 8:21 pm

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Forbidden Root ready for another round

Neal McKnight (left) fields a question from Chris Long.

East Village Association membership meeting minutes, February 3, 2014
Submitted by KK Goh

Forbidden Root
  • Clarification by Neal McKnight that there is no adversarial relationship between EVA and Forbidden Root. Forbidden Root had initially approached EVA to request lifting liquor moratorium.  EVA requested Forbidden Root to consider historical issues in the neighborhood and to consider alternative measures.  Forbidden Root was receptive to working with EVA to discuss alternatives.
  • In last public meeting, Forbidden Root suggested that first step will be to push for a legislative change on liquor licenses that are incidental to a brewery business, and if that fails the brewer might request lifting the current moratorium.
  • The brewery requested an opportunity to present plans for a Chicago Avenue zoning change (C1 with restrictions) and ordinance change (incidental liquor sales), complying with the license moratorium.
  • Attorney from Forbidden Root will send an updated proposal in a few weeks. EVA will publish on its website when available.
  • Forbidden Root also offered to present plans of operation for EVA review.
  • EVA has traditionally tried to push for consistent B zoning restriction to avoid heavy commercial enterprises such as car washes.
  • Some attendees voiced concern about low membership and lack of awareness of current events amongst residents in the neighborhood.  EVA board members and other longtime members responded that passion of residents is very commendable.  EVA encourages open discussions and consistent active participation beyond social media commentary. 
  • Open call to increase membership for more residents to get a say. Voting require 3 months as a member.
  • Suggestions were made to upgrade EVA website to make membership signup and information more easily accessible, especially to younger residents in the neighborhood.  Currently EVA website is more of a blog style. One suggestion was to have proper page tabs on top (as in Ukrainian Village).  Some members volunteered to assist with the upgrade.
  • Discussion on whether voting is allowed by proxy or online.  EVA is open to setting up online measures (videos of meetings and presentations, online voting).  Some members volunteered to form committee to look into this issue.
SSA expansion
  • The special service area is due for renewal and will apply to the city this month. A request will be made to present to EVA on the SSA mission and benefits.  EVA encourages all residents to attend the presentation.
  • SSA provides certain services to the neighborhood (cleanup, facade rebates, tree planting) but has tax increase implications for residents within its boundaries
  • SSA currently is business oriented but 51% of the properties are residential.  If SSA is to include residences, then perhaps the scope should be broadened to serve the whole community.
  • Question about critical mass of opinion required for SSA renewal.  Current survey results by SSA had poor response. The city Department of Housing and Economic Development suggested that a percentage of the property index numbers actually should sign on in support of the SSA.
  • Different opinions on benefits of SSA.  Concerns that SSA might not be very beneficial with relatively high fees to residents but only a few services offered like snow plowing and garbage pickup.  On the other hand they may be necessary since current streets and sanitation do not cover the affected areas.
  • Comment made that residents within the SSA boundary can mail directly to SSA to voice their opinion
Community group consortium
  • Neighboring community groups are discussing a united front on issues such as electronic billboards.
Officers' nominating committee
  • Open call for volunteers for EVA committees: Those interested to talk to Neal McKnight.
  • Three pocket parks will get new equipment in June or July.
  • Park District will get formal plea to acquire Chicago Avenue property to expand Commercial Park size and accessibility.
  • Deadline for candidates in local school council elections is Feb. 26.
  • Comment made about presence of great public schools in East Village and improvements to Wells High School and its infrastructure.
  • Open call to new members interested in EVA web development or blog to contact webmaster Stephen Rynkiewicz.
  • About $2,900 in funds.
Neighborhood issues
  • Question about higher electric rate with Integrys provider over ComEd.  EVA to possibly raise the issue at future meeting.
  • Question about snow shoveling, especially with properties and vacant lots that do not shovel (Hermitage and Augusta).  Suggestion made to raise the issue with alderman to investigate the offending lots.
  • Catherine Garypie raised concerns about local USPS with poor delivery service to residents.  Mail often lost or misdirected.  She's planning to raise the issue with postal inspection service.  If any residents have concerns and want like to help, contact her.  Package theft issues should be reported to police and 311 to assist with investigation.
New business
  • Encouragement for members who have neighborhood businesses or want to see new businesses to present to EVA. 

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Forbidden Root alternatives brewing

East Village Association board meeting minutes, January 13, 2014
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Planning, Preservation & Development: Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

Representatives approached Neal McKnight with their proposed brewery-taproom on Chicago Avenue. They need a liquor moratorium lifted, and the zoning changed from B to C to open at that location. McKnight discussed the project with Scott Rappe and Peter Locke of the PPD committee, and they all agreed that the project would be fine if they kept within the existing zoning of the site.

Rich Anselmo stated that he and EVA fought for B zoning there, as well as along much of Chicago Avenue to keep out unwanted uses such as dry cleaning and auto services. Additionally, from an urban planning standpoint, commercial zoning adjacent to residential zoning and spot zoning are not ideal practices. There are some existing C zoned areas close by on Grand Avenue that would work well for such a project.

EVA worked extensively with Forbidden Root’s attorney, Rolando Acosta, to establish the transit-oriented development ordinance that allowed for the 1611 W. Division St. site to be developed. It is possible that an innovative strategy can be explored in this case as well to maintain the protections available to East Village residents.

Forbidden Root will hold a community meeting on Jan. 23 at 6pm in the proposed brewery site in order to discuss their project.

Miller Lumber

There have been rumors that developers want to change the original plans, but they would have to vacate the planned development ordinance. Permitting is in place.

1822-50 W. Chicago Ave.

Steve Fifield went back to Ald. Proco Joe Moreno with the new project proposal, and has not yet received an approval or denial. EVA is still considering the opportunity to expand Commercial Park onto the property instead, as this is the last large undeveloped property in the neighborhood.

Ronda Locke previously had a freelance landscape architect draw up plans for the park expansion. She has also been speaking with the Chicago Park District regarding the possibility of this, and they are amenable to it. Ald. Moreno has written a support letter and has said he could help with impact dollars. Neal McKnight suggested EVA write a support letter, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

West Town Chamber of Commerce/SSA

McKnight would like to develop some guidelines as to expectations of the chamber as the delegate agency of the SSA. He would like to see more transparency, and would like to request that the people who run it live in the neighborhood. Additionally, he believes the chamber and SSA should support residents and property owners just as much as businesses. McKnight will compile a list of things to ask for.

February meeting speakers

Epic Spices will present a business minute at the Feb. 3 meeting. Gladys Anselmo suggested that we have any of the grad students who has been studying the neighborhood present some of their findings. Other suggestions are welcome.

Meeting commenced at 6:35pm, adjourned at 7:05, Attendance: Board members Neal McKnight, Meghan Quinn, Gladys Anselmo, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Rob Schickel. Other attendees Ronda Locke, Rich Anselmo.

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Forbidden Root: Next steps

The East Village Association is pleased that Forbidden Root is willing to consider compromises to its original proposal, including legislative changes, and we look forward to working with them on these issues.

As we noted in our most recent statement, w e look forward to continuing to work with Forbidden Root to craft a proposal that would allow the business to open and to maintain the protections available to the surrounding residents.

—Neal McKnight, EVA president

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Chicago Avenue zoning crafts a better community

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

It's again a critical time for East Village and the other neighborhoods near the Loop. There's a strong attraction to neighborhoods near the core of the city. East Village already benefits from this demographic trend, and is challenged by it. The East Village Association recognized this and consulted other groups – and most importantly Ald. Proco Joe Moreno and his staff – to develop a plan that would address the challenges of Chicago’s changing demographics.

As part of this plan, in April 2013 Ald. Moreno agreed to maintain the liquor moratoria in the East Village Association territory until May 2015. It is important to note that not all liquor licenses are banned by the moratoria, and new East Village restaurants continue to obtain incidental liquor licenses. The purpose of the plan was to allow our past planning experience with liquor sales guide the continued development of East Village.

Forbidden Root brewery has demanded that the East Village Association agree to lift two liquor moratoria and upzone a Chicago Avenue parcel it does not yet own, from B to C zoning. This proposal undermines well-laid plans for our community and the alderman's agreement. The proposal asks too much from the neighborhood, and it asks too much from Ald. Moreno. Forbidden Root would force him to break his agreement without considering the consequences. Our experience tells us that these demands are contrary to development of a dynamic, sustainable and locally focused commercial district.

Locally brewed craft beer is very popular right now, because many craft brewers like Forbidden Root espouse sustainable and local production and have committed to contributing to their communities. These are commendable principles that EVA has always supported. Ironically, Forbidden Root’s demands may undermine them.

With the purchase of Goose Island Brewery by Anheuser-Busch InBev, some beverage operators are looking for the buildup and the buyout. We don't know that Forbidden Root is looking to one day sell, but it raises concerns. Ultimately there's going to be an industry shakeout. Forbidden Root appears to consist of high-minded and responsible people, but we're always concerned about the next owner. If Forbidden Root doesn't survive or gets bought up, the neighborhood may have a different operator that's less responsible and not locally owned. That's particularly a problem when we're left with a parcel with C zoning and the right to brew and sell alcohol.

Lifting the liquor moratoria raises other concerns. Admittedly the moratoria can be blunt instruments, but once the moratoria are lifted, a 2-block stretch of Chicago Avenue is open for a full year to new package liquor licenses and tavern licenses as a matter of right. Unfortunately, our neighborhood has had a history of problem bars and liquor stores. Without the moratoria, low land prices and rents on Chicago Avenue will allow for the establishment of liquor stores and taverns that make little capital investment and are out for a quick buck. This mix often brings on vagrancy, public intoxication, public urination and vandalism. 

Without the moratoria. it's also incumbent on the neighborhood to establish why a new liquor license should not be issued. This is a high hurdle. Unlike our local chambers of commerce, the community organizations are all-volunteer and do not benefit from paid staff or taxpayer dollars. It's difficult to gather resources to oppose an objectionable applicant. 

Many neighborhood residents just got done battling the issuance of a new package liquor license to Red Apple Convenience. Although EVA did not lead this effort, we wrote to support it. Compare the feel of Red Apple (at Damen and Chicago) to an Olivia's or the Garden Gourmet on Ashland. Do we really need a liquor store that feels that it needs employees behind bulletproof glass? The neighborhood is improving but we still face risks, and once a liquor license is granted it's very difficult to take away. The liquor moratoria have resulted in other benefits.

The unintended creation of entertainment and alcohol districts can drive out other retailers. Neighborhoods are then left with a district that caters primarily to those who do not live in the community. We're then forced to travel to other areas to shop – usually in cars, contrary to the sustainability ethic – because the record store, dress shop and bike store are all gone due to rising rents and inconsistent uses. 

Division Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Damen Avenues serves as an example of how a commercial strip can grow and evolve with the benefit of a package liquor moratorium and a tavern moratorium. This stretch of Division Street has a healthy mix of different types of locally owned retail establishments. The moratoria on Chicago Avenue have the same rules that have long been in place on Division Street between Ashland and Damen. EVA believes that Division Street is attractive because the moratoria keep it from being overwhelmed by bars and clubs. This in turn encourages growth of locally owned independent retailers.  

EVA spearheaded efforts to have pedestrian designations placed on both Division Street and Chicago Avenue. This prevents billboards, drive-throughs, curb cuts and other auto-centric uses. The designation also requires new buildings close to the street, to create a better pedestrian experience. EVA also initiated plans to implement consistent B zoning. Initially this was done to discourage auto-centric, heavier uses allowed by C zoning but inconsistent with residential and pedestrian uses. It also prevented the expansion of package liquor stores. 

EVA's efforts go beyond zoning changes and moratoria. In the early '90s, Division Street from Ashland to Damen was nearly impassable for pedestrians. The vaulted sidewalks had deteriorated or collapsed, leaving gaping 6-foot holes protected only by sawhorses and caution tape.  Several of our members and a current board member had the opportunity to sit next to Mayor Daley at an event before the 1996 Democratic National Convention and invited the mayor to walk Division to show him how bad it had become. After Daley's tour, a streetscaping plan was approved. This initiative was unique in that it focused on pedestrian uses and created and protected the green spaces on Division.

The wide sidewalks, large trees and tree pits along Division Street today result are fruits of EVA members' labor. Their initiative spurred the development of stores and restaurants, and attracted customers who could walk from business to business. Division Street was then on its way to becoming the street that it is today. This took time, planning and patience. This collective experience guides our planning for Chicago Avenue. 

EVA also fought for the preservation of the Goldblatt's building and the construction of a Chicago Public Library branch in this building. These efforts resulted in a dynamic and sustainable use in a building that was to be demolished and replaced by a one-story building with a street-level parking lot. EVA also spearheaded creation of the East Village Landmark District. This effort prevented the wholesale demolition of historically significant buildings. It also raised property values and encouraged renovation.  Again these initiatives took time, patience and planning.

More recently EVA worked on creating a transit-oriented development at Division and Ashland. Initially the developer proposed a 2- or 3-story building with a surface parking lot and drive-through. We worked with the developer to craft a better project. This project resulted in a change in city ordinances that's spurring new transit-oriented developments throughout the city. The work required a creative legislator and a development partner who was patient, engaged and committed to our neighborhood. 

Our experience also tells us that small zoning changes can make a big difference. During the sustained boom of the '90s and '00s, a huge amount of residential investment was made in our neighborhood. The initial investments were renovations of existing structures. This made our neighborhood more attractive, which in turn attracted even more investment. But there was a downside as well. Due to a slight difference in residential zoning, different types of buildings were constructed north of Chicago Avenue. The unintended effect was an incentive to demolish existing structures. The construction of 3-unit condominiums at the expense of existing structures came simply because of this slight variation. The demolition rush was on. 

East Village then lost building after building merely because of this loophole. Some bad buildings came down, but many beautiful, valuable and contributing structures were demolished. Some blocks were completely replaced with condominium units built with split-face block. Besides undermining the historic character that made the East Village attractive, this zoning difference taught us to be thoughtful when considering zoning and use changes. Slight changes can make an enormous difference.

We believe that adjustments to Forbidden Root's proposal can allow it to make an investment in the community without compromising community plans and protections built on a history of successful and sustainable development. We look forward to continuing to work with Forbidden Root to craft a proposal that would allow the business to open and to maintain the protections available to the surrounding residents. 

Finally, EVA members are very optimistic about our community. We believe that both people and businesses want to locate here. We should take the time to review proposals inconsistent with current zoning, and to use the available tools to continue to grow and prosper and not destroy the qualities that make our neighborhood so attractive. 

Forbidden Root is sponsoring a community meeting on its plan. It's scheduled for 6pm Jan. 23 at its property, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Forbidden Root brewery drafts Chicago Avenue bid

President's Message
By Neal McKnight

There has been a great deal of talk today about EVA's involvement in a request to upzone a Chicago Avenue property from B to C zoning to accommodate a small brewery with wholesale sales and an accompanying large bar.

Forbidden Root presented a proposal to EVA representatives knowing full well that their proposal was contrary to the City of Chicago zoning, contrary to what both Alderman Moreno, EVA and others had together agreed were appropriate uses for this area.

Nevertheless, EVA discussed with a representative of Forbidden Root the proposal and requested that they alter their plans so that they need not request a zoning change from B to C zoning. First, EVA suggested that they open an establishment that served their own beer as being incidental to food service. Second, we asked that they not use the location as their wholesale beer sales point. Notably, these uses are not described in the flyer that is being distributed.

We have heard no compromise from Forbidden Root but we are still communicating.

These proposed uses can have negative impacts on surrounding residents. The proposed zoning changes constitute spot zoning which is contrary to the existing zoning. Inconsistent adjoining uses ultimately causes problems for the business and impacted neighbors. Preventing these conflicts is the very purpose of zoning.

Requests for zoning changes are a good reason to be concerned about a proposal because it suggests that the proposed use is inconsistent with the neighborhood as decided by the city. EVA has a history of working with developers and aldermen to encourage development in the neighborhood that will be compatible with the existing uses and to allow the new business to succeed.

As for other development projects, EVA has routinely negotiated with developers and businesses to reach acceptable compromises regarding scope and use. The point being the first proposal is not always the best proposal.

As an example, before Roots/West Town Bakery opened, EVA had earlier rejected a proposal to up zone the Roots/West Town Bakery sites to C zoning to allow for a dry cleaning plant. But for that decision there wouldn't be a Roots or a West Town.

EVA also negotiated with Roots' to buffer the operations from the residences on Winchester and other East Village streets. The owners of Roots and EVA, with the assistance of Alderman Moreno, hashed out a compromise that benefitted both the neighborhood and Roots.

To name a few other negotiations, the recent development on Haddon; the Miller Lumber site, 1601 W. Division/Pizza Hut (which served as the template for the city of Chicago's transit oriented development) and beer and wine sales at the Garden Gourmet. EVA also unanimously approved the development of Brooklyn Bowl.

For more than 30 years residents of the East Village have participated in the East Village Association to advocate for a better community. Our efforts continue to this day. It takes decades to build a strong and attractive community. It only takes a few hasty decisions to undo that hard work.

Forbidden Root is sponsoring a community meeting on its plan. It's scheduled for 6pm Jan. 23 at its property, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

Written by Webmaster

April 21st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

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