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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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  • Around Rogers Park: The Real Deal Reports Big Rent Increases in Rogers Park


    The headline is ominous – “A Vicious Cycle: Skyrocketing Rogers Park rents may rob neighborhoods of affordable housing.” Thus begins Alex Nitkin’s article in The Real Deal, an internet news service that reports on real estate in the nation’s largest cities, including Chicago.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Lifeline Theater Thanks RPBG for its Support


    In a May 17th letter addressed to the Rogers Park Builders Group, Lifeline Theater Directors Allison Cain and Ilesa Duncan wrote to thank our organization, and Jay Johnson in particular, for our financial support of the theater’s accessibility programming.



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  • Around Rogers Park: 18th Annual Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest August 16-18


    The Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest is back again. It has become one of the community’s most anticipated summer events. RPBG’s Art Goldberg and Mary Bao are both on the 2019 Planning Committee.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Political Tsunami Washes Over Chicago / Rogers Park


    Chicago municipal elections are always a two-act affair. The general elections come first. This year, they were held on Tuesday, February 26th. Any candidate with more than 50% of the general vote is declared the victor; if there is no outright victor, then the top two candidates with less than 50% of the vote must face each other in a final vote in the runoffs. This year, the runoffs were held Tuesday, April 2nd.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Michael Cardinale, Founder of Chicago Chess Foundation, has Died


    Michael Cardinale first got involved with the Rogers Park Builders Group in the very early days of the organization’s existence when he worked for the Apartment People. He and former RPBG President Michael Wallk became close firends. It was Michael Wallk who first suggested that Michael Cardinale share his love for Chess with the kids at Gale Academy. What began as a casual interaction between Mr. Cardinale and Gale eventually grew into the Chicago Chess Foundation, an organization that touched the lives of 8,000 CPS students and spread the discipline and love of Chess throughout the CPS system.

    Mr. Cardinale remained actively involved in the Chicago Chess Foundation throughout his life and worked tirelessly with kids across the city, spreading his love of Chess and the many benefits it imparts to those students willing to take the time and effort to learn to play the game.

    Michael died of glioblastoma on March 16 at the age of 54. He is survived by his wife, Autumn Mather. He will be greatly missed by those long-time RPBG members who knew him, and by the many students at CPS to whom he so selflessly devoted his time and talents.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Building Projects Progressing in Rogers Park


    Three residential developments continue to take shape across the Rogers Park community: Concord on Sheridan, 1323 W. Morse, and Elevation Lofts.

    The Concord on Sheridan property should be completed by the fall or winter of 2019. The building has topped out at eight stories, and contains 111 units. Of this total, 60% will be affordable and reserved for CHA tenants, and the remaining 40% will be market rate. The ground floor will contain retail space, including a 23,000 square foot flexible format Target store and 7,000 square feet for other retail tenants.

    Tawani is the developer of 1323 W. Morse and is it already on the market for pre-leasing. The first move-ins are anticipated this summer. The building is eight stories tall with five apartment floors on top of a three-level parking garage. There will be a total of 45, one and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 620 square feet to 1,100 square feet. The location adjacent to the CTA Red Line station at Morse Avenue makes it especially appealing to downtown commuters and local residents alike.

    Jay Johnson is developing the Elevation Lofts, located at 1531 W. Howard Street. Jay and his company, Cornerstone Investment Group, is developing this site in partnership with Watermark Properties.

    Elevation Lofts will have 38 units of Class A rental apartments. The building will have 2,900 square feet of retail commercial space, automobile and bike parking, and storage on the first floor. The second through fifth floors will contain dwelling units in addition to a community room and fitness area. The building will offer a roof-top deck with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. The building has already topped out and the first residents should be able to move in during the summer of 2019. This is the first, new construction, market-rate apartment building to be built on Howard Street in many years.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Fritz Kaegi at RPBG April meeting


    Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi addressed over 100 members and guests of the Rogers Park Builders Group at its April 23rd meeting. In his presentation, Kaegi outlined his goals of bringing transparency, predictability and fairness to the property assessment process in Cook County and he described how he had brought in national experts to review current practices and to recommend best practices in assessments used in other parts of the country.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Record Cold Shuts Down Chicago and Rogers Park


    “Thorndale Beach” Photo by Ronit Bezabel.

    Double-digit, below zero temperatures were the order of the day all day Wednesday, January 30. Thursday, January 31st was only marginally better. These severe conditions prompted much of the city to simply shut down and hibernate, awaiting more temperate conditions before normal activities could resume.

    In Rogers Park, as elsewhere, the cold made it difficult to get around, and saw many basic services either operating at greatly reduced levels, or not at all. The public schools and US Postal Service were just two examples of institutions that called it quits for the two-day period. Metra cancelled many trains, and the CTA struggled to maintain reduced service as the intemperate weather caused headaches for these transit agencies and their equipment.

    The Lake Michigan shore looked more like Barrow, Alaska than Chicago. The surface of the Lake looked like it was on permanent slow-boil with steam continuously rising off the surface in the extreme cold. Meanwhile, snow and ice piled up on the shore. (Apologies to Barrow where is was actually warmer than Chicago.) Despite the inhospitable conditions, the Lakeshore was eerily beautiful and uniquely Rogers Park, although best viewed from the window of a Lakeshore apartment building.

    Luckily for us, the extreme conditions did not last long. The city was back above freezing by Saturday. Rogers Parkers, and Chicagoans generally, are a hardy bunch. The neighborhood and the city seemed to be back to normal by the weekend.



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  • Around Rogers Park: Onward Opens in Hampton Inn on Sheridan Road


    Onward restaurant is now open on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn at 6580 North Sheridan Road. The restaurant is the latest entry on the rather short list of “fine dining” establishments in Rogers Park. Time will tell if it is more successful that other restaurants that aspired to bring fine dining to the neighborhood, but mostly failed in that effort.

    Still, there is reason to believe Onward will be different. First of all, it is in one of the best locations in the neighborhood, just a block north of the Loyola Red Line Station, and nestled inside the successful Hampton Inn across the street from the Loyola University Campus. In fact, it is Loyola that owns and leases the retail space on the ground floor level of the hotel, and was part of the development team that got the property built in the first place.

    In addition to the excellent location and Loyola affiliation, Onward benefits from a deep-pocketed investor (Michael Olszewski) whose previous experience includes Grace, the now-close, two-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop. Mr. Olszewski has tapped into the deep restaurant talent that has turned Chicago into a foodie paradise. He seems to have struck just the right balance between elegant dining and laid-back Rogers Park style. People that have been to the restaurant so far rave about it, and there is no question it fills a niche that no other restaurant north of Devon (and south of Evanston) fills. This is yet another feather in the cap of the Sheridan retail corridor between Devon and Pratt. Onward seems likely to become a Rogers Park favorite for both special occasions and just a fun night out on the town.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Nick Kosiak’s State Farm Agency Building Destroyed by Fire


    Saturday morning’s fire on the 7000 block of N. Clark
    photo from Alderman Moore’s website

    In the early morning hours of December 22, just a few days before the Christmas holiday, a fire broke out in the 7000 block of North Clark Street, destroying several businesses, including the State Farm Office at 7051 that housed RPBG Member Nick Kosiak’s insurance agency. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. Shortly after the fire, Nick was upbeat in spite of the devastation caused by the fire. Nick was confident that he would be back on his feet in the near future.

    Well, it looks like that confidence was well founded. In a recent email update, Nick reports that he has secured a new lease for a permanent office location on Greenleaf, just around the corner from his previous location. If all goes as planned, Nick should be in his new office with full operational capabilities by February 4, a remarkable recovery from the unanticipated and unwanted events of late December.

    If you haven’t seen Nick at recent RPBG meetings, you will understand why he has had other things on his mind. But Nick reports that he renewed his membership and expects to be at future meetings. We congratulate Nick on his quick recovery from a difficult situation, and wish him well as he gets back on his feet. We feel safe in our assumption that he was properly insured!


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  • Around Rogers Park: CPS Schools in Rogers Park Continue to Improve


    According to the 49th Ward Email of October 29, the most recent ratings for CPS schools in Rogers Park show continued improvement. CPS uses a rating system from 3 (lowest) to 1+ (highest), with intermediate scores of 2, 2+ and 1. The eight public schools in Rogers Park were all rated in the top three grades in 2018. Highest ratings were given to the Chicago Math and Science Academy and to New Field, both rated 1+. Three schools received a rating of 1: Acero / De La Cruz, Jordan and Kilmer. And three schools were rated a 2+: Field, Gale Academy and Sullivan High School.

    As recently as one year ago (2017), three of the eight schools were rated a 2, the second lowest score on the five-point scale. Clearly, education is improving in Rogers Park, a good omen for the entire neighborhood.

    RPBG is proud of the contribution we have made to the local public schools and is committed to continuing this effort for at least the next several years. RPBG has had an affiliation with Sullivan High School throughout the decade, and has expanded that relationship to other public schools in recent years. We applaud the progress these schools have made, and recognize the hard work and commitment of the teachers and staff that have made this happen. This is unquestionably a good-news story and an encouraging sign for the future of the neighborhood.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Breaking News – New Microbrewery on Howard Being Considered


    Howard Theater building


    A new microbrewery is being proposed for 1617 W. Howard Street in the Howard Theater building owned by RPBG Director Jay Johnson. The brewery would be known as the Howard Street Brewing Company and would require a special use permit and a tavern license to operate.

    The owner of the proposed brewery, Ryan “Chuck” Patella, has an established relationship with The Factory Theater which is currently located adjacent to the proposed brewery location. Mr. Patella believes a new brewery would be a complementary and synergistic use in a building that is emerging as the focal point of the Howard Street commercial district. Sol Café is located on the other side of the brewery space, and already serves as a gathering point for neighborhood locals in the Howard Street vicinity.

    Although approval of the new brewery is not guaranteed, there is little doubt that this business would increase the appeal of Howard Street and bring more traffic and commerce to the area. If approved, Howard Street would take another significant step forward in reestablishing itself as a major entertainment district for the Rogers Park community. RPBG strongly supports the approval of the microbrewery on Howard and congratulates Director Jay Johnson for his tireless efforts to revitalize Howard Street and make his property a focal point for this commercial activity.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Alderman Considers Redevelopment Plans for the Lerner Site on Howard Street


    Former Lerner Site on Howard Street (Source: click on the image above)


    Three Corners Development in currently in discussions with Alderman Joe Moore about a proposed, new construction apartment property at the long-vacant Lerner Site at Howard Street and Ashland Avenue. The City took control of the property in 2011 and has been trying to come up with a viable redevelopment plan since that time. The Three Corners proposal is still in its conceptual phase, and much remains to be done before this plan can become reality. Current plans call for the creation of a 240-unit apartment property in which 20% of the units will be affordable, whether through reduced rents or some other form of rental assistance.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Glenwood Greenway Coming to Rogers Park


    Image: CDOT

    A year ago, Glenwood Avenue opened as a “Greenway” all the way from Carmen Avenue on the south to Devon Avenue on the north. Part of the greening of Glenwood included a contra-flow lane between Carmen and Ridge Avenue, allowing bikers to continue riding southbound on Glenwood past Ridge Avenue even as Glenwood becomes north-bound only for auto traffic.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Police Search for Masked Assailant after Two Homicides


    Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced that, as a result of additional contributions, the reward is now up to $150,000. This is the largest reward offered in any crime investigation in the city’s history. (Source: WGN TV)

    Police have determined that the same gun was used in two homicides that occurred on September 30th and October 1st. These shootings took place in broad daylight. These killings were not part of robbery attempts. No motive has been attributed to these crimes.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Alderman Joe Moore, 49th Ward, Recommends “Yes” Vote on Rent Control Measure


    In an email to constituents, sent October 25, Alderman Moore recommended a “yes” vote on the advisory referendum to lift the state ban on local rent control measures. This recommendation is consistent with the Alderman’s stated position at the September meeting of the Rogers Park Builders Group.


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  • Around Rogers Park: Three Active Apartment Construction Projects Underway in Rogers Park - Summer Update


    Don’t look now, but there are cranes on the Rogers Park skyline and, for once, Loyola University can’t take all the credit. Not that we don’t love Loyola and appreciate their tremendous dedication to, and investment in, the neighborhood. But, after so many years of virtually no construction activity away from the Loyola campus, it is heartening to see this sudden burst of private-sector (and public-private partnership) activity.


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