Ald. Hopkins defends Leona's building

Ald. Brian Hopkins addresses members of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Plans to raze and rebuild the Leona's restaurant in East Village are moving to the City Council for approval. But Ald. Brian Hopkins says he'll work to preserve the building, a former dairy in the East Village landmark district.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks recommended the city approve demolition at 1938 W. Augusta Blvd. Hopkins told commissioners before the Nov. 5 vote that the community wanted to preserve the structure, a 1920s-style glazed-tile facade around an 1895 two-flat.

"There's grandparents and great-grandparents that'll talk about ordering products from Pure Dairy," Hopkins said. "Many of them do believe the building as it stands today is a legitimate symbol of their success as a community."

Hopkins could block demolition in the City Council, but Commissioner James Houlihan asked Hopkins not to defer the issue. He noted the commission would have to approve any new building. "A 44-story high-rise might not be consistent with the district," Houlihan said.

That's not in store, said Tod Mullen, project manager for MCZ Development. He pledged to stick with the current B2-3 mixed-use zoning, which he said would allow 12 residential units.

"The zoning for this allows for a larger building," Mullen said. "This particular building doesn't have a whole lot of commercial value to us as a one-story, overly large restaurant in this particular location."

Hearing on Leona's demolition

A permit to raze the Leona's restaurant on Augusta, a converted historic dairy, comes up for review at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks today. Here's why the East Village Association opposes the demolition. The hearing is at 12:45 p.m. today at City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, in the 2nd floor City Council Chambers.

Do neighborhood schools make the grade?

West Town schools: Hover over the dots and click for more information.

How would you score neighborhood schools: They strive to reach their full potential? Or, they need improvement? Wells Community Academy, the default high school for East Village teens, could draw either comment.

Rita Raichoudhuri, its principal, will talk Monday with East Village Association members about progress and challenges at Wells and the city's other open-enrollment schools.

She'll be joined by Ernesto Matias, her predecessor as principal, who is working on a bid to launch a citywide language academy. The 7pm meeting is at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

The Illinois School Report Card, issued Friday, gives the school at 936 N. Ashland Ave. high marks for professional development and teacher collaboration. Wells' learning environment is graded on the 5Essentials scale, which the University of Chicago developed to predict student success.

Wells compares well to the Noble Street charter schools, which the state combines in a single report. The state reports do not include religious and private schools.

The state has not yet posted results on the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. But Wells lost ground on graduation rate, and its improving results on ACT college-prep exams fall short of the Noble charters.

Wells talks language academy to fill classrooms

Enrollment dropped by 90 students to 467 at Wells High School, 936 N. Ashland Ave.

East Village Association board minutes for Oct. 12, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Library restoration

Jordan Marie received an e-mail from the city Department of Buildings saying it would cost $1.5 million to restore the city-owned Goldblatt's Building at 1625 W. Chicago Ave. Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo mentioned that the building was restored only in 1999. However, windows appear to have been out of the renovation's scope.

Wells High School

Stephen Rynkiewicz will check with a representative from Wells Community Academy to present at the Nov. 2 membership meeting. A drop in enrollment will cost $900,000 this school year, and if not reversed makes Wells a potential target for closing.

The high school at 936 N. Ashland Ave. has a number of turnaround options. It has offered to host a citywide language academy, and already provides programs in teaching, logistics and law.

The open-enrollment school competes against charter schools with advance placement and college-credit courses, electives and after-school activities. Last year Wells secured $4 million in scholarships for graduates.

West Town library window repairs not in budget

East Village Association membership minutes for Oct. 5, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Welcome from EVA Vice President Catherine Garypie

Presentation by John Wawraszek of Chicago Publishers Resource Center

Located at 852 N. Ashland, the Chicago Publishers Resource Center is a two-year-old non-profit hosting literary and artistic workshops and community events.

Wawraszek is very interested in partnering with EVA on events, including an upcoming Ashland art walk scheduled for Nov. 7. More information can be found at

Library fa├žade

Garypie has reached out to the city to get more information about the scaffolding in front of the West Town Branch Library at the Goldblatt's Building, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. (The Department of Fleet and Facility Management confirms a DNAinfo report that the scaffolding protects pedestrians from deteriorated windows.)

Repair funds, estimated at $1.5 million, are not in the 2016 city budget. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno has mentioned the potential of dedicating discretionary funds to fixing the building, but more information is needed on whether ward "menu money" or community fundraising could be earmarked solely for this project.

Toward civil, inclusive meetings

The city operated a bathhouse at 1019 N. Wolcott Ave. from 1918 through the 1960s.

East Village Association board minutes for Sept. 21, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Membership Meeting

Given Ald. Proco Joe Moreno’s statements regarding EVA at the Sept. 14 general meeting, the board and guests discussed ways to ensure that meetings remain civil and changes to ensure that EVA remains inclusive of all neighborhood voices.

Suggestions included:

  • Issuing a statement about civility at the beginning of each meeting.
  • The alderman hosting a separate community meeting to discuss issues like Golden Arms, instead of simply sending it to EVA.
  • Ensuring that aldermen send representatives to attend EVA meetings.
  • Instituting a series of educational sessions on zoning and other planning issues.
  • Improving outreach and awareness of EVA through brochures and other collateral.
  • Re-establishing or changing key EVA principles through discussion with membership.

Bathhouse on Wolcott

Michelle Hayward, who owns the former Lincoln bathhouse on Wolcott, would like to use the space to host low-impact cultural and civic events. She and her husband bought the building in 2013.

It hasn’t been used publicly in 40 years, and she’d like it to be an active space for the community. Neal McKnight will help her in zoning inquiries.