No more self-censoring on Twitter

Since my Twitter feed is no longer featured on the DNAinfo.com Chicago news website after their redesign, I can freely Tweet the words “f*ck” and “s#it” all I want again. Even the sentence, “F*ck that s#it!”

If you’re not following my inappropriate online behavior, follow me @GeraldFarinas.

Photo: Gerald Farinas.
Another morning on the waterfront at Berger Park in Chicago’s Edgewater. I love living on the lake.
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Photo: Gerald Farinas.

Another morning on the waterfront at Berger Park in Chicago’s Edgewater. I love living on the lake.

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Photo: Gerald Farinas.
Sat on the lakefront this morning, casting anxieties into the water. 
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Photo: Gerald Farinas.

Sat on the lakefront this morning, casting anxieties into the water. 

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West Sheridan at Winthrop Ave. Photo: Gerald Farinas.
On the 147 Outer Drive Express to the train station.
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West Sheridan at Winthrop Ave. Photo: Gerald Farinas.

On the 147 Outer Drive Express to the train station.

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Granville station closure delayed until June 1 for construction materials

Chicago Transit Authority said it will delay the closure of Edgewater’s Granville Red Line station as it needs more time to procure materials needed for construction, according to a call to the CTA after a report by the CTA Tattler.

The new date of closure is now slated to be Friday, June 1. The station is expected to be reopened six weeks later, Friday, July 13.

Earlier this month, businesses along the Granville and Broadway corridors were given notices to post on their storefronts regarding the temporary closure of the neighborhood ‘L’ station for life-extending facelifts. It was originally scheduled to be closed on Friday, May 11.

Customers will be expected to use the Thorndale and Loyola Red Line stations, or use Sheridan Road and Broadway corridor buses.

image

Granville and six other north side CTA Red Line stations will receive interim improvements until a more permanent Red and Purple Modernization project begins. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Much of the project includes major waterproofing, painting and track work. With the implementation of the Red and Purple Modernization Project, still in the planning stages, the Granville station will be completely demolished and rebuilt.

Related stories:

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Granville station will close first for rehab; Morse, Jarvis to follow

Granville CTA station in Edgewater will close for six weeks beginning Friday, May 11 for major maintenance to lengthen its lifespan. A more permanent reconstruction is planned in the future under the RPM Project.

Granville and six other north side CTA Red Line stations will receive interim improvements until a more permanent Red and Purple Modernization project begins. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Residents must walk to Thorndale or Loyola CTA stations, or use buses, during the closure.

Two Rogers Park stations will close for six weeks each. Morse will be shut down Friday, June 29. Jarvis will be shuttered Friday, November 9

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Rogers Park Community Council changing name to Northside Community Resources

The Rogers Park Community Council will be renamed and revitalized as Northside Community Resources. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new name and renovated office space will take place on Friday, March 23, 2012 from 5 to 7 pm at NCR, 1530 W. Morse Avenue. 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore will be in attendance.

Founded in 1952 as the Rogers Park Community Council, NCR has expanded and evolved to provide difficult-to-find social services throughout the north side of Chicago. The agency’s new name more accurately reflects its service area, which extends beyond Rogers Park. 

NCR exists to serve local residents who find themselves in dire and oftentimes dangerous situations. Services are targeted toward clients who are truly without any other options. Clients range from victims of brutal domestic violence to families being unlawfully evicted from their homes.

To serve its clients, NCR provides programming in six core competencies: victim advocacy and support, technical assistance for landlords and tenants, first-time homebuyer education, small home repairs for the elderly, multicultural resources, and senior advocacy. 

NCR is dedicated to helping people navigate challenging times by combining knowledge and expertise with compassion and dignity. NCR promotes civic engagement and cooperation to improve neighborhoods and honor diversity.

The new organization will launch a new website at www.northsidecr.org. They can also be found on www.facebook.com/northsidecommunityresources.

For more information: 

Northside Community Resources
1530 W. Morse Avenue
Chicago, IL 60626 
Phone (773) 338-7722 Ext. 26
faye@northsidecr.org

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Midsommarfest to begin with Friday night block party

It’s official! The 47th Annual Midsommarfest will feature an opening night block party. The Midsommarfest kick-off event will take place on the evening of Friday, June 8, starting at 5:00 p.m., on Clark Street between Balmoral and Catalpa. Entertainment will be headlined by popular Chicago 1980s cover band, 16 Candles. Local restaurants will provide food and drinks.

Photo from Metromix.com.

Andersonville Development Corporation will benefit from the inaugural event. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to foster sustainable community and economic development in the Andersonville commercial district.

Andersonville.org says that more than 50,000 people attend Midsommarfest each year. “We look forward to kicking off the summer in Andersonville a day early this year, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate our great neighborhood with you!”

There is a suggested $5 donation for entry into the weekend-long festival.

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Alderman Moore endorses zoning, license for new Loyola-owned apartments on Albion

It’s often joked about that the official bird of the City of Chicago is the crane. Look up and you’ll see more and more in the skies over the Far North Side. Construction cranes are being erected in various spots of Rogers Park and Edgewater as Loyola University Chicago continues new phases for its master-planned community—which now seems to have been removed from the LUC.edu website.

Illustration of new building to be constructed by Loyola University Chicago at 1217-39 W. Albion in Rogers Park.

A new development next to the Loyola CTA Red Line Station—where Loyola is constructing a new public plaza—will feature a 29-unit residential apartment building. It will sit adjacent to a new surface parking lot with 59 parking spaces, 29 of which will belong to property renters. Because the lot will have parking spaces for the public, Loyola came before the city for a necessary zoning change. They will require a special use permit to operate such a parking lot.

After a public meeting hosted by Alderman Joe Moore, the 49th Ward Boss has decided to support the zoning change and special use permit.

Google Map location, pinpointed at marker A, of Loyola University Chicago’s new residential apartment building at 1217-39 W. Albion.

Moore said that many he encountered support the project, “Most stated the belief that the proposed development would be an improvement over the current underutilized parking lot.”

The apartment building will not serve as dormitory housing but will be a residential apartment building, like many other buildings in the neighborhood. The only difference is that it would be owned and operated by the Jesuit university.

Moore explained, “Some community residents expressed concern that the development would become a de facto student dormitory, but Loyola assured the residents that it would own and manage the apartments and would limit the number of occupants in each rental unit.”

RELATED STORIES:

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The Sovereign negotiating sale to Loyola University Chicago

The Sovereign, an historic, and massive apartment building in its corner of Edgewater Beach, has been placed on the market for sale by its owner, IRMCO Properties and Management Corp. The interested client is the largest landowner in the area, Loyola University Chicago.

The university, an institution of the Jesuits Chicago-Detroit Province, and IRMCO have signed a type of contract that allows Loyola to make its assessments of the building—figuring out renovations, repairs and staffing issues—while it hammers out a plan of purchase. IRMCO in turn, under contract, can’t entertain other offers of sale.

The Sovereign was once a luxury hotel. Built in 1924, it has 283 studios and one-bedroom apartments. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Loyola’s Aggressive Real Estate Growth

Loyola has been extremely aggressive with real estate purchases and development in recent years. It is currently overseeing various construction projects in Rogers Park and Edgewater. This includes a new phase of a master-planned community along Sheridan Road—which brought the construction of The Morgan, The Flats and a CVS-anchored parking garage—construction of new dormitories, and the reconstruction of the Loyola CTA station to start in May.

One of many business closures from Loyola’s development plans, Karavites Management (owned by a Loyola alumnus) decided to shutter its train station restaurant on March 1. It doesn’t plan to return after construction is finished.

Gentrification—Keep It That Way

The Granville Avenue corridor between the lakefront and Broadway has seen significant changes in recent years with the addition of trendy eateries. Popular among them are Metropolis Coffee Co., m. henrietta, and Pete’s Pizzeria and Bakehouse. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Reports are that Loyola President Rev. Michael Garanzini, SJ had contemplated a purchase of the property for awhile now. Vice President of Campus and Community Planning Jennifer Clark has shared, “238 apartments under bad management could undo all the work we’ve done to make the neighborhood safe and secure.”

What does that mean? Loyola is saying it is afraid of risking another buyer who would turn the building into low-rent apartments, bringing in unsavory characters. In other words, it’s saying that it needs to purchase the property to maintain the area, format it in accordance with its own vision of the neighborhood, and bring it under university control, so that it does not revert to a time when the general area was in decay—prostitution, drug dealing, gang violence.

What’s To Become of Current Residents?

The fate of current tenants is uncertain. IRMCO says about 60% of its apartments are leased to Loyola students. But many others are young professionals, senior citizens maintaining independent urban lifestyles. Jennifer Clark maintains that for now, there are no plans to turn The Sovereign into a residence hall, office building or classrooms.

The Hotel Sovereign—an Edgewater Historic Gem

The Hotel Sovereign was once a 1920s luxury hotel with a guest list that included King Christian X of Denmark, the future Duke of Windsor, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, the Andrews Sisters and even legendary gangster Al Capone. Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame was a lifeguard at the swimming pool now used by the present-day Edgewater Athletic Club.

The Sovereign featured in a postcard from its early hotel days. Courtesy of CRCC historic collection.

The back of a vintage postcard from the time reads, “A hotel of character, with perfectly appointed apartments, suites, and hotel rooms. A luxurious dining room for delicious food and choice liquor. Tile swimming pool and massage salon. Located in the finest part of the beautiful North Side, overlooking Lake Michigan. One block from motor coaches and the elevated.”

The Hotel Sovereign was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager. Compass Rose noted that American Builder Magazine described the new high-rise as “the richest and most pleasing of the year among Chicago apartment hotels.”

IRMCO Portfolio Put On Sale

IRMCO purchased the building after a period of neighborhood blight. Revitalized, it was one in a family of properties redeveloped by Leonard D. Richman in the 1960s. Others included the Seneca Hotel on the Gold Coast, the Belden-Stratford in Lincoln Park, and the North Shore Hotel in Evanston.

The oldest IRMCO property is the North Shore Retirement Hotel, built in 1919. It is also for sale.

Late last year, IRMCO named HFF to manage the sale of its portfolio of properties:

  • The Belden-Stratford at 2300 Lincoln Park West, 297 units built in 1923
  • Flamingo Apartments at 5500 South Shore Drive, 167 units built in 1926
  • The Seneca at 200 East Chestnut, 264 units built in 1926
  • Sovereign Apartments at 1040 West Granville Avenue, 283 units built in 1924
  • Versailles Apartments at 5254 S. Dorchester Avenue, 96 Units built in 1920
  • North Shore Retirement Hotel at 1611 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, 185 units, built in 1919

MultiFamilyBiz.com says, “Pricing for the portfolio is anticipated to be well in excess of $200 million.”

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Two main proposals for ‘L’ modernization; closing North Side stations still considered

Six proposed alternatives for the Red and Purple Modernization project ultimately became four proposals after the latest round of public meetings. Chicago Transit Authority met with hundreds of residents in two public open houses on Monday, February 6 in Evanston, and Tuesday, February 7 at the Broadway Armory in Edgewater.

REFRESHED PROPOSALS

Two of the four proposals now on the table have no or minimal changes to the Red and Purple Lines. The first proposes no action whatsoever to Chicago’s rapid transit system. The second proposal is for only basic rehabilitation of current stations and turning Loyola station into a Red and Purple transfer station. Participants of the meetings, for the most part, viewed the two as not enough, considering stations are showing their advanced age.

Participants showed most interest in two main proposals, refreshed and on the table for serious consideration. One plan is called Modernization and the other is called Modernization without Consolidation.

The CTA defined modernization for participants as being, “comprehensive reconstruction of track, stations, and structures along the line, which would include considerable speed improvement.”

MODERNIZATION

Presenters described the renamed Modernization plan as, “Providing modern amenities at stations, modest increase in speed of service, includes new transfer station at Loyola, and major reconstruction and renovation to extend the useful life to 60-80 years.”

This plan includes the elimination of several CTA stations: Lawrence in Uptown, Thorndale in Edgewater, Jarvis in Rogers Park, South near St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, and Foster near the Northwestern University campus.

After refreshing the alternative proposals for the Red and Purple Modernization project, stations like Jarvis in Rogers Park may be closed permanently in one of two major choices. Photo by Wikipedia user JeremyA.

The CTA have taken into account the passionate views regarding station elimination and therefore are instead using the term “consolidation.” One of the presenters defined consolidation as “the reduction of the number of train stops coupled with the creation of new, secondary entrances at adjacent stations.”

Proponents of consolidation argue its ability to greatly improve efficiency and travel times.

Consolidation creates new entrances at nearby stations and the CTA explained that they may reposition or lengthen train platforms to create new access points at different street intersections. One of the CTA presenters said, “Adding secondary entrances to stations would shorten the walk time for many patrons, however, some patrons may have to adjust their commute.”

Secondary entrances are planned for the following Red Line stations under the consolidation plan: Howard (entry at Paulina and Rogers), Loyola (entry at Albion), Granville (entry at Glenlake), Bryn Mawr (entry at Hollywood), Berwyn (entry at Foster), Argyle (entry at Ainslie), Wilson (entry at Sunnyside), Addison (entry at Waveland). A new Irving Park station would adjoin or replace the present-day Sheridan stop.

Secondary entrances will be added to the following Purple Line stations: Noyes (entry at Gaffield), Davis (entry at Church), Dempster (entry at Greenwood), and Main (entry at Madison).

Edgewater’s Thorndale station may be closed permanently in one of two major Red and Purple Modernization project choices. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Presenters stressed that no official decision has been made regarding consolidation and that in the planning process, they are still keeping an open mind to the other alternative, without consolidation.

MODERNIZATION WITHOUT CONSOLIDATION

The new Modernization without Consolidation proposal was not one of the original six alternative plans from last year. It was created as a response to public reaction from last year’s unveiling of proposals, which CBS 2 credited our own Rogers Park Facebook page for breaking news regarding station elimination being part of several plans.

Modernization without Consolidation goes ahead with major upgrades to all the stations without eliminating Lawrence, Thorndale, Jarvis, South and Foster. It too will last 60-80 years.

MUTUAL IMPROVEMENTS

Both the Modernization and Modernization without Consolidation plans include the expansion of current 6-car Purple Line trains to 8 cars, and have additional Express train access points at Wilson and Loyola. Present-day 8-car Red Line trains would expand to 10 cars.

Both plans would significantly straighten out 16 of 20 known curves, improving travel times.

Both plans include the possibility of constructing a flyover near the Belmont station that would allow Brown Line trains to enter and exit the station without having to cross over, and stop, Red and Purple Line traffic. It would reduce travel time for all three affected lines.

WHY IS THE RED AND PURPLE MODERNIZATION PROJECT NEEDED?

Presenters started the meetings with a basic outline of why the Red and Purple Modernization project is needed. They argued that the infrastructure is significantly past its useful life and that degradation has caused increased maintenance costs and has compromised service. Everyone agreed that the community relies on the ‘L’ and that stations need to have ADA accessibility. The CTA continued, “Old transit line infrastructure causes delays and unreliable travel times. We cannot accommodate all passengers on existing roads and buses.” They added, “The population of the area we’re talking about is growing and are highly reliant on public transportation.”

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE PLANNING PROCESS?

Now that the Red and Purple Modernization project has whittled down its choices, another round of public meetings to refine proposals will be announced for summer of this year. The meetings will feature cost and proposal updates, illustrated renderings of the proposed plans, and a summation of potential negative and positive effects of each plan. A Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement, also called an EIS, will be issued in 2013 and will be subject to public hearing. Later that year, a final EIS will be presented.

RESOURCES

Residents and business owners are invited to read the Red and Purple Modernization Project Handouts (PDF given out at the public meetings) and the Red and Purple Modernization Exhibit Boards (PDF of the presentation shown to participants).

INTERIM PROJECTS UNDERWAY

While the CTA still works on finalizing plans for the Red and Purple Modernization project, work will go ahead for interim improvements to Lawrence, Argyle, Bryn Mawr, Thorndale, Granville, Morse and Jarvis stations. A public meeting regarding the interim project is planned for March of this year. Read the original story.

Granville and six other north side CTA Red Line stations will receive interim improvements until a more permanent Red and Purple Modernization project begins. Photo by Gerald Farinas.

Wilson redevelopment is also forging ahead. It will become a transfer station for both Red and Purple Lines. A public meeting regarding Wilson is planned for early this summer.

Loyola station is being redeveloped in a separate project spearheaded by Loyola University Chicago. It will be donating property towards the creation of a plaza along N. Sheridan Road. Read the original story.

This is an illustration of an updated Loyola station, as part of a larger Loyola University Chicago master plan development, not taking into account the CTA’s proposals to turn Loyola into a Red and Purple Line transfer station.

48th Ward Master Plan Launch Meeting on February 23

The 48th Ward Master Plan Launch Meeting will be at Nicholas Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood) on Thursday, February 23 at 7:00 pm .

Alderman Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward issued the following letter to neighbors:

I am excited to officially launch the 48th Ward Master Plan, a community planning process that will develop a shared vision for the future. Now that our new 48th Ward boundaries have been finalized, we can embark on this exciting process. Many of you have heard or read about the Master Plan. This e-newsletter serves as the official guide to the what, who, when, and how. Hopefully the information below will answer any questions you have and will describe how to get involved in the process.

The most important part of this process will be YOU. It is my dream for every 48th ward resident, business owner and stakeholder to have a voice in this planning process. Please pass this announcement on to your friends and neighbors. Developing a shared vision for the future amongst several topics will take a lot of work; however, I believe the final result will be incredibly rewarding and will leave us with a stronger, healthier, safer 48th ward. Please join me in the process!

The 48th Ward Master Plan will be citizen-driven and will cover many aspects of community life: residential, small business, economic development, transportation, public safety, art, recreation, among others. Committees of neighborhood residents will eventually outline priorities and help establish a roadmap towards improving the 48th Ward. Implementation of suggested priorities could come as early as this summer.


Photo of Alderman Harry Osterman with neighborhood children from HarryOsterman.org.

Permanent CTA station closures still on table for North Side and Evanston

Last year, our very own Rogers Park Facebook page was credited by CBS 2 for breaking news before the Chicago Transit Authority officially unveiled six alternate proposals for the Red and Purple Modernization project, of which three include the permanent closure of several stations: Jarvis, Thorndale, Lawrence on the Red Line and Foster, South on the Purple Line.

There was a major public outcry. 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore remembered reactions in his neighborhood, “Over 250 Rogers Park residents turned out in force to oppose the closing of the Jarvis station and hundreds of others flooded the CTA with letters and e-mails opposing the station closing.”

Despite efforts to calm customers that these were “just ideas,” the schemes are still officially on the table.

Jarvis CTA Red Line Station may be closed permanently in several alternate proposals for the Red and Purple Modernization project. Photo by Wikipedia user JeremyA.

The CTA told WBBM last year that it hopes to settle on a plan and seek construction money of up to $4.2 billion in the next federal surface transportation bill, which is expected later this year.

ALDERMAN MOORE WANTS PUBLIC TO COME OUT

The CTA is hosting two public meetings on Monday, February 6 at Evanston Public Library and Tuesday, February 7 at the Broadway Armory in Edgewater, both from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

At the meetings, (read the flyer invitation) the CTA will present updates to the Environmental Impact Statement process, provide additional information about RPM, and ask for more feedback from residents, workers and neighborhood businesses affected by the project.

Alderman Moore is calling all CTA users to come out to the meetings to reinforce opposition raised last year of station closures. The Rogers Park city council member told constituents, “The CTA was quick to emphasize the proposals were merely ideas and no official plans to close the station were in the works. Though this is still true, it’s important to note the CTA has not officially rejected the ideas that contemplate closing [stations]. I urge you to attend one of the update meetings to reaffirm our community’s strong opposition to any idea, plan or proposal that calls for the closing of [stations].”

Lawrence CTA Red Line Station may be closed permanently in several alternate proposals for the Red and Purple Modernization project. To make up for the loss of the station, proposals include the creation of new entrances at adjacent stations. Photo by Wikipedia user moonrat42.

Loyola CTA Red Line Station Reboot On Track; McDonald’s Could Get Dumped

Loyola CTA Red Line Station is one of the busiest transportation hubs along the far north segments of the city’s el, servicing the EdgewaterEdgewater Beach and Rogers Park neighborhoods. Last summer, we reported the unveiling of a reboot of the Loyola CTA Red Line Station. A large part of the project includes a donation of Loyola University Chicago property towards the creation of an open plaza in front of updated entrances.

As I reported on July 30, 2011:

Already starting Phase II of its Loyola Station master-planned community, Loyola University has decided it needs a new train station to match. Using its heft to successfully obtain federal funding, paired with a commitment to open its own wallet, Loyola’s CTA Station is about to see reinvention.

A remodeling of the Loyola CTA Station will feature new windows, flooring, plaster, paint, lighting, bird control and water proofing. The entrances to the station would be moved further north and west. The viaduct will see changes first with work set to begin as early as August. A timeline has not yet been set for the other features.

Most interesting to the plan unveiled by Loyola University is the demolition of McDonald’s Express and Harris Bank to create an open plaza along Sheridan Road where people can sit, relax and even dine. The plaza would add $2 million to the entire CTA project and would be contributed by the school.

Rogers Park Facebook patrons questioned whether creating a plaza would increase unwanted loitering or even crime. Concerned residents were reminded that the property belongs to Loyola University and would be secured by its own police force, as they do for the rest of the Lake Shore Campus.

Illustration of an updated Loyola CTA Red Line Station.

SPOKESPERSON SAYS WORK BEGINS IN SUMMER

Today, Loyola’s Associate Vice President of Campus and Community Planning, Jennifer Clark, addressed commuters and residents asking for an update on the project. She reported it is slated to begin this summer.

Inquirers looking for more information were referred to an old report introducing the project. The article, written in 2011, said that the project was to begin as early as August of that year:

Later this year, the Loyola CTA Station will receive some much needed TLC thanks to a $7.5 million grant from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and additional funds from the CTA. 

In 2005, as part of setting the redevelopment priorities for the Devon-Sheridan Tax Increment Financing District (TIF), the community loudly and consistently proclaimed that the red line stop at Loyola was the top priority for the betterment of North Sheridan Road. Since 2005, Loyola has been lobbying to highlight the problems at the station and generate the interest that led to the $10 million commitment.

$10 million will allow for safe & dry maintenance that includes new windows, flooring, plaster, paint, lighting, bird control and water proofing. At the viaduct the CTA will strip seal the structural joints and repair the columns.

Additionally, Loyola University is working with the CTA to move the entrance to the station further north and west along the embankment. The goal is to create a safer and more inviting pedestrian entrance to the station and to the community. Loyola is negotiating with its long-term tenants, McDonald’s and Harris Bank, in order to demolish the building and develop an open plaza. The plaza will add approximately $2 million to the project that Loyola will contribute.

The entire project is in the CTA’s design phase and work on the viaduct could begin as early as August. The new entrance and plaza timeline is not yet established.

NO LOVE FOR McDONALD’S?

Loyola spokesperson Clark responded to an area-resident, Teddy Semon, asking the school to rethink its relationship with McDonald’s Express, owned by Nicholas Karavites, in favor of alternative fast-food options at the updated station.

McDonald’s has been a long and successful tenant in that location when
no one else would take a chance on the area. The owner is a Loyola
alumnus. We will always be glad to have them as a tenant and a
neighbor.

You will be pleased to know, however, that Loyola is working with
McDonald’s to buy them out of their lease in order to create a CTA plaza
and new station entrance. The McDonald’s building is actually Loyola
property which we are donating to this public improvement for the
betterment of the whole area.

We are on the same page here. I’ve even had talks with Au Bon Pain but
it’s still too soon to tell. Please keep in touch with these kinds if
ideas. It’s how I know we’re on the right track.

Au Bon Pain is not the only business mentioned on a neighborhood wish list for the station’s future. In a back and forth with others interested in seeing a change in consumer options, Clark told a resident that Potbelly Sandwich Works is high on Loyola’s list of possible tenants, if they can convince the business to come to Rogers Park. 

Teddy Semon started an EveryBlock discussion where he argues that he wants Loyola to dump McDonald’s, and take advantage of the development opportunity, “to allow its students and its neighbors to have alternate options. Plus the plaza design will be perfect for a business more suited for patio life. For those that enjoy McDonald’s, they can easily go to the other McDonald’s just south of the CTA station.”

Residents opposed to McDonald’s express a want for diversified food options and healthier choices. They also want small businesses that would elevate the neighborhood’s profile, or promote a more sophisticated look and feel for the area.

KEEP KARAVITES’ McDONALD’S FRANCHISE?

Loyola alumnus Nicholas Karavites, 2010 Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame award winner, owns several McDonald’s franchises in the Chicago-area, including the McDonald’s Express in Rogers Park.

Not everyone sees the closure of the family-owned McDonald’s Express franchise as a positive move. RogersPark.com manager Charlie Didrickson added to an EveryBlock conversation, “I am all for healthier alternatives but why would Loyola kick out a longstanding business that seems to do well there? What about the people who actually like McDonalds?”

Didrickson added, “You don’t just get rid of a perfectly good, legal business because a small contingency wants something different. What if you were the owner and was told we no longer value your business, your longstanding business? I am not picking a fight but this stuff screams elitism and class BS. It’s like screaming that you want a liquor store gone but when the wine boutique opens everyone is all gaga over it. Lobby for alternatives in other adjacent locations but don’t do it at the expense of a perfectly good business.”

While some mention the close proximity of a full service McDonald’s near Broadway at Granville, the two have different customer demographics and cater to specific consumer profiles unique to their immediate areas. Karavites’ McDonald’s Express, and its neighbor Dunkin’ Donuts, have built their success on Loop-bound commuters who want the convenience of cheap coffee, pastries and sandwiches before hopping on their trains.

McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts also serve many budget-conscious Loyola students who might consider other fast food alternatives as comparatively more expensive.

College student Miguel said, “What if us college students find that McDonald’s useful? That McDonald’s is right by the train. It’s a fast and affordable option to get some sort of food in us before classes. There are plenty of options around for those who want healthy eating. We can make healthy choices ourselves and don’t need members of the community parenting us, making sure we eat our veggies.”

EMPTY STOREFRONTS NEED TENANTS

McCaffery Interests, which leases property owned by Loyola, continues to look for tenants for empty storefronts near the CTA. Just steps away from the Red Line, The Morgan at Loyola Station has vacant first-floor spaces that have been sitting empty since the opening of the Loyola-owned apartment building.

Recent additions to the The Morgan include frozen yogurt shop Red MangoFive Guys Burgers and Fries and Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, among others. Druggist CVS anchors the first floor of The Morgan’s parking garage.

Birthday thoughts

The sun has returned to its same point in the heavens as it was twenty-nine years ago today. Turning 29 years old feels good. I’m meeting my new year with great optimism, leaving a phase of growth and self-understanding and using what I’ve gained from that phase to embark on a wholly new period of my life.

I feel as though recently, I’ve been letting go of a lot of things that have been weighing me down. Relationships and environments have changed a lot. Moving back to Edgewater from Boystown seems to be one of the first of major changes. Why the change is significant is not clear to me yet, but I’m quite sure it has major relevance and impact.

I think I’m probably going to spend the next year letting go of more things that have no useful purpose in my life anymore. It’s a year of meditative cleansing and renewal. There’s no “reset” button. I’m not erasing stuff and starting over again.  Rather, I feel as if I’m just stepping up onto a new plane, onto a new foothill just above where I’d been. I don’t think it’s a new beginning yet. I just need to clear some deadwood before I make myself at home on this new place. I think 2013 will be the bold new year of initiative, action and new life. For now, I’m just getting new perspective.

I’m a bit restless. I want to do something new but I don’t quite know what it is yet. I’m surrendering to the unknown. “Here I am. Come and find me.” There’s a lot I don’t know and that excites me. What I do know is that I’m ready for it. My mind seems clearer for it, too.

The Star of Joy

The red giant star, Arcturus, known by ancient Hawaiians as Hokule’a, shines directly above Honolulu. Light from the star was used to officially open the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

Here’s a bit of fun trivia.

I was born in Honolulu where the zenith star, the star directly above it, is Arcturus, known by ancient Hawaiians as Hokule’a, the “Star of Joy.”

Light derived from Hokule’a was used to officially open the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, in the city that is now my adopted hometown. Exposition officials chose the star because it was believed that light from Hokule’a, hitting Chicago, had begun its journey to Earth during the previous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. They were actually off by three years.

The 1893 and 1933 Chicago World’s Fairs are so significant to the history of Chicago that they are represented on the Flag of Chicago with two, of four, six-pointed red stars. The other two stars represent Fort Dearborn and the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

More Trivia

Halema’uma’u vent at Kilauea. Kilauea began its eruptions in January 1983 and has been active ever since.

Just days before I was born, Kilauea began to erupt on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has been continuously erupting since then and is now the most active volcano on the planet. In Hawaiian religious tradition, Kilauea is home to the goddess Pele.

I find symbolism in the event myself. There have been others who’ve gone further and offered supposed superstitions.