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.

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

Ashland BRT plan stops short

Membership meeting minutes, April 7, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie


Ashland BRT

The CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit proposal would cut Ashland Avenue traffic lanes from four to two, to dedicate the interior two lanes to express buses. The plan keeps two parking lanes, and eliminate left turns from Ashland except at highway access points. Details are at transitchicago.com/ashlandbrt.

Primary benefits of Ashland BRT are:

  • Decreasing travel time (decrease of about 8 minutes from 35th to Irving Park) and increasing reliability for the large number of public transit users on Ashland.
  • Supporting businesses along Ashland Avenue.
  • Connecting rail and other bus lines.

EVA has not taken a position to date, although it has provided information regarding process in prior meetings. EVA has heard presentations from the CTA, the Active Transportation Alliance and the Ashland-Western Coalition. Nearby neighborhood groups have taken positions. The Environmental Assessment for the Ashland BRT was released on Nov. 19, 2013, and the public comment period ended Dec. 20, 2013. Two public meetings were held by CTA during the public comment period.

The question before the membership is: Does EVA oppose the Ashland BRT as it is currently proposed by the CTA? The board expects to revisit this issue if the CTA alters the Ashland BRT proposal in the future.

EVA Monday: Ashland BRT vote

Bus lanes along Ashland Avenue will be up for a vote at Monday's East Village Association meeting.

Members will vote on the CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit as currently proposed: "Based on information EVA now has, is EVA for or against the Ashland BRT?"

Reflecting concerns about the design, the EVA board last month left open the possibility of revisiting the issue if the plan changes.

And changes are likely. The $160 million Ashland BRT proposal would restrict inner lanes to buses and emergency vehicles. Medians would stay in place. Bus stops would replace the left-turn lanes.

The city's new transportation commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, now wants to keep left turns on some intersections. As the CTA's planning officer, Scheinfeld was responsible for the original design.

Money Smart Week at West Town library

By Stephanie Flinchbaugh

Great events this spring at the West Town Branch Library include a special local history presentation from the folks at Forgotten Chicago. Also, don't forget about Mom: the Letter Writer's Alliance will be with us in early May to help craft cards for Mother's Day.

Money Smart Week:
First-time homebuyers

Join us at 2pm Saturday, April 5 at 1625 W. Chicago Ave. as we kick off Money Smart Week Chicago. Participants will learn about the homebuying process and requirements for ownership, including budget preparation, credit management, documentation and the actual costs of owning & maintaining property.

EVA seeks Fifield apartment revisions


East Village Association board meeting minutes, March 10, 2014
Submitted by Catherine Garypie

Fifield Cos., 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave.

Steven Fifield made a presentation to the board on his current development plan. He's seeking a "no objection letter" for his zoning package, and wants to go before the full EVA membership April 7. Details include the following:

  • Rental only, not condo.
  • 4 stories, frame construction, parking behind building.
  • Floor 1 is commercial, floors 2-4 residential.
  • 59 units: 40% studios & 1-bedroom, 60% 2- and 3 bedroom.
  • Likely 1st floor commercial tenants are: daycare to the west, restaurant to the east. 2 shallow storefronts not yet filled.
  • Flexible on how to direct traffic to parking.
  • Suspects that Zoning Commission will not require 1:1 parking because of the number of studios & 1-bedrooms.
  • 5-6 ft of green wall between the building and the park.
  • May replace sidewalk & alley surface depending upon condition.
  • Leasing agent & live-in manager.
  • Architect is Pappageorge/Haymes.
  • Fifield will pay $200,000 in impact fees, may be able to direct these fees to Commercial Park exclusively.