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  • Around Rogers Park: $50K Donation from Chicago Wolves to A Just Harvest

    As the famously difficult year 2020 was about to close out, the Chicago Wolves hockey team chose the Rogers Park-based food insecurity and social justice organization, A Just Harvest, for a grant of $50,000 – one of five organizations around the city to receive gifts from the team. As reported by Block Club Chicago, the funds will be used to expand the organization’s food pantry, help with coronavirus relief efforts, and possibly open a drop-in community wellness center that will include mental health services.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Pothole Art Project

    There’s a terrific article in Block Club Chicago by journalist Joe Ward, called Rogers Park Artists Fill Neighborhood Potholes With Used Bike Parts, Tile: ‘Functional Art Is Cool.’ If you missed it, take a look. True to Rogers Park’s reputation as a haven for artists and eccentrics of all stripes, several local artists banded together to do something about the pothole problem that plagues all of Chicago in the winter months, but in a very original and unorthodox way. With a $7,500 grant by the AARP, whose motivation was making the city more accessible to people with accessibility difficulties, these local artists took old bike parts, tiles and other found objects and imbedded them in pothole repairs, turning a routine maintenance function into a work of art.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Proposed Expansion of 1415 West Morse Avenue

    Mark Falanga, CEO and founder of VentureMark, Inc., is the owner of a four-story, vintage building at 1415 West Morse. The property occupies a large site on Morse, including a large surface parking area to the rear of the existing building. Mr. Falanga is asking for a zoning change from B3-2 to B3-3 that would allow him to build a new, 5-story addition on part of what is now the parking lot. The zoning change would trigger the Affordable Requirements Ordinance which currently requires a 10% set-aside of units affordable to households earning no more than 60% of area median income.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: RPBG Holds 18th Annual, and First-Ever Virtual, Trends Workshop

    To anyone who thought that a little thing like a global pandemic could keep us from hosting our popular, Annual Trends Workshop, you have now been proven wrong. It took considerably more effort, and it felt very different than in past years, but the annual event took place, as planned, on January 26th and was a great success. This is a good thing, given all the challenges of bringing nearly 100 participants together using just our computers and Zoom technology.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Elevation Lofts Leasing Up


    RPBG Director and developer, Jay Johnson, reports that his Elevation Lofts building at 1531 West Howard Street is now complete and well on its way to achieving full occupancy. As last reported, the building has leased 27 of 38 units (71%) and continues to generate traffic and interest.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: The Challenges of Running a Business during the Pandemic - Sol Café


    Simone Freeman opened Sol Café in the Howard Theater building in the winter of 2012. The building is owned by Jay Johnson, founding member of RPBG. Like all restaurants and bars, Sol Café had to shut its doors in late March, due to Governor Pritzker’s “shelter in place” order.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Cuetzala Gro Restaurant Reopens


    Block Club Chicago reports the heartwarming story of the tragedy that befell Saul Moreno – owner of Cuetzala Gro restaurant at 7360 North Clark Street – and what happened to his restaurant after his death. According to Block Club, Mr. Moreno died of the COVID-19 virus on April 15, devastating his family and seemingly putting to an end the fifteen-year run of his restaurant on North Clark Street.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Gun Violence Increases in 2020


    Since the beginning of the year, and especially since the start of the pandemic, Chicago has experiencied a significant increase in gun violence and homicides. According to an article in the New York Times, Chicago has had 336 murders through July 2 compared to 492 murders in all of 2019.

     

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  • Greg Jones, New RPBG Director


    For anyone who has been a regular participant in the Rogers Park Builders Group monthly meetings (you might have to strain your brain to recall those much-missed, actual gatherings of our members), then you may very well have chatted with Greg Jones who recently became a Director. In a group with a lot of extroverts, Greg stands out as being especially outgoing, friendly and always up for a good conversation with other members.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: The New Normal


    Life in Rogers Park is very different today than it was just a short time ago. In many ways, what Rogers Park is currently experiencing is similar to what the rest of Chicago and, for that matter, the world are all experiencing – a radical shift away from whatever previously constituted our “normal lives” as the economy falls to ruins all around us while we shelter in place to slow the virus’ spread.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: In Memoriam


    We mourn the loss of Auxiliary Corporal Mario Araujo of the Chicago Fire Department. Mr. Araujo died Tuesday, April 7 of complications from COVID-19. Mr. Araujo began working for the Fire Department in 2003. For most of that time, and continuing until his death, Mr. Araujo worked out of Engine Company #102 on the 7300 block of North Clark Street on Truck #25. Mr. Araujo was 49 years old.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Progress Report on Heartland Redevelopment

     

    The redevelopment of the Heartland site is on schedule to break ground this spring. After being denied a zoning variance that would have allowed a denser building with six, on-site affordable units, developer and new RPBG Director Sam Goldman is proceeding with a five-story, 30-unit apartment building with 2,554 square feet of ground floor retail space. Residential units will be located on floors two through five and will include nine (9) 1BR/1BA units, nineteen (19) 2BR/2BA units, and two (2) 3BR units – one with two bathrooms and one with three.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: January 11 Storm Devastates Beaches at Rogers and Howard Parks

     

    As anyone who read RPBG Director Tom Heineman’s excellent article in the Fall Newsletter knows, rising lake levels and the effects of climate change are having a severe impact on Chicago’s shoreline. Rogers Park is one of the neighborhoods that has borne the brunt of Lakefront erosion, given the geography of many of its parks with their small footprints and limited width between city streets and Lake Michigan waves.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Clark-Estes Apartments Now Open

     

    Image courtesy of Chicago Defender

    A ribbon-cutting ceremony on the afternoon of Thursday, February 6th marked the opening of the Clark-Estes Apartments, bringing to a happy ending the long saga of this troubled site. The four-story apartment property combines 54 apartment units, 3,350 square feet of ground floor commercial space and a 20-car garage – a lower parking requirement due to the property’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) status. The new building contains a mix of 15 studios, 21 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom units. Although construction began in October 2018, the story of this site goes back much further.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Howard-Ashland Site Development Unveiled

     

    The Alden Foundation and ArtSpace unveiled plans for a mixed-income, LGBTQ-friendly senior housing and live/work development at the long-vacant corner of Ashland Avenue and Howard Street. The site originally housed the Lerner Building which was torn down in 2007. The site was later acquired by the city under former Alderman Joe Moore in an attempt to spur development. Despite several previous attempts, the site has not been developed and remains vacant, except for community garden plots which are used during warm-weather months.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: New Construction Apartments Filling Up

     

    Thirteen-23 West Morse is a Tawani Enterprises that replaces a former strip center at the southeast corner of Morse and Wayne. A spokeswoman for the company reports that the building is complete and currently 96% leased. Achieved rents are in line with projections.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Loyola’s New “Francis Hall” Nearing Completion

     

    While not technically in Rogers Park, Francis Hall is close enough to merit an honorable mention. The structure of the new, eight-story residence hall is up and, according to RPBG’s Jennifer Clark, will be completed and ready for occupancy by August 2020. The building is located on the 6300 block of North Winthrop, just south of Sheridan Road. Francis Hall is just the latest example of the dramatic changes that the Loyola Campus has experienced since the dawning of the new century.

    Expansion of Loyola south of Devon Avenue took a major step forward in 2013 when the 6300 block of Kenmore was closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian mall. There is talk of closing the 6300 block of North Winthrop as Loyola’s footprint south of Devon continues to expand. The University continues to look for development opportunities south of Devon Avenue and west of Sheridan Road as the land-locked University seeks to expand beyond the confines of the original campus. Francis Hall is just the latest development to occur south of Sheridan Road. It will certainly not be the last.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Alderwoman Hadden Supports B3-5 Zoning at Rogers and Sheridan

     

    The question of what to do with a mostly vacant building at the northwest corner of Rogers Avenue and Sheridan Road is on the agenda of Alderwoman Maria Hadden. This site has long been owned by a property owner who has proven unable or unwilling to bring this site up to its full potential. This is especially unfortunate, given its prominent location along Sheridan Road and its high visibility on this important north-south thoroughfare through the community.

    For many years, this site housed Biddy Mulligans, a popular live music venue and pub. Biddy Mulligans operated at this location at least since the 1970s. Since closing in the early 2000s, the building has been dominated by vacant storefronts on both Sheridan Road and Rogers Avenue. Currently, the only tenant in occupancy is the Beach View Wine and Spirits liquor store that occupies the corner location.

    The Alderwoman has reached out to the community to provide guidance about what to do with this site, and how to encourage a more appropriate use for the entire community. At a recent community meeting held at Willie Whyte Park, the Alderwoman heard from many local residents, most of whom expressed support for allowing the zoning to revert to its most recent B3-5 designation. This zoning would allow for a sale to a new owner who would be able to develop a larger, mixed-use property. Many community members felt that a more restrictive zoning designation would only make it harder to sell the property and redevelop the site, meaning more years of no activity and vacant storefronts.

    Tom Heineman, Director and Treasurer of RPBG, spearheaded the effort to communicate with the new Alderwoman and deliver the recommendations of the RPBG Executive Committee which strongly supported approval of B3-5 zoning for the site. RPBG also believes that a redevelopment of the site is preferable to the likelihood of many more years of vacant storefronts and missed opportunity for this important parcel.

    We applaud the Alderwoman for her decision to approve B3-5 zoning for this site. We thank Tom and the Executive Committee for their advocacy and attention to this matter.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: Al Goldberg Given the 2019 President’s Award at October RPBG Meeting

     

    Long-time RPBG Member, Director and Arts Chairman, was presented with the President’s Award at the October 22 RPBG Meeting. In giving Al this award, Mike Glasser, RPBG President, recognized the profound contribution Al has made to the cultural life of Rogers Park, both as a real estate broker, as an investor, and as a moving force behind the creation of the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. Indeed, Al is credited with creating the name and bringing attention to the Morse and Glenwood area as a center of the arts, not just in Chicago but across the country. .

    Of course, Al is probably best known as one of the founders, and still a driving force, behind the successful annual Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest held every August. This street fair has become the biggest and most successful in Rogers Park and draws artists and performers from across the neighborhood, the city and beyond. Al has almost single-handedly made Rogers Park, and the Glenwood Avenue corridor in particular, a mecca for the arts in Chicago. .

    Congratulations Al! You richly deserve this award. Click on this video for a tribute to Al and learn more about his contributions to Rogers Park and the local art scene.

     

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  • Around Rogers Park: In Memoriam – Sharon Kozak

     

    It is with great sadness that we observe the passing of long-time RPBG Member, Sharon Kozak, who died on June 14. She is preceded in death by her husband, Larry Tobiasz, who died eight years earlier. Sharon was also a long-time resident of Rogers Park and lived for many years in her beautifully restored home on Juneway Terrace. Sharon was a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker in Evanston and was a well-established agent on both sides of the Evanston-Chicago line. We are saddened by her loss and wish to express our condolences to her friends and family.

     

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