Near North Montessori on Division/Ashland development

August 15, 2011

Dear Alderman Moreno:

We understand that the former Pizza Hut property at the corner of Ashland and Division has been purchased and plans are being prepared by the developer. We concur with others in the area including EVA and WPA that this property is a significant site for the Division Street-Milwaukee Avenue-Polish Triangle community. We hope that you will encourage the developers to design a space that is in keeping with the EVA suggestions for this area. Since the building represents a significant presence on this site, it should be of similar height, mass and quality of the landmark bank to the north, and with the bank, form an appropriate gateway to the vibrant communities to the west of the Polish Triangle.

We also believe the development should reflect the sustainable practices of so many 1st Ward residents and neighbors, and seek to attract customers via foot, bicycle and mass transit, rather than by automobile. Drive-thrus and other automobile-focused uses will increase traffic congestion and reduce pedestrian safety and comfort.

Many of our staff, students and parents walk, ride bicycles or use public transit to travel to and from school. In fact, we have applied for more bicycle racks to accommodate the number of bicyclists on our site. Students also walk daily from our school at Division and Cleaver to work at our urban farm site, Farmessori, at Wood and Hadden. We encourage the use [of] public buses and trains for small group field trips to museums and other sites use. Staff members walk around the neighborhood before, during and after work hours shopping at local stores and eating at local restaurants.

We are encouraging our community to think "green" by asking them to drive less and use fewer non-compostable or non-recyclable items. We believe that by modeling these "green choices" to our children we are instilling an important value. We would support a plan to make this area a diverse neighborhood with a mix of residential properties and businesses that support the people who live in the neighborhood as well as welcoming others to walk around to shop, play, work, eat, listen to music and watch theatrical performances.

We home that our neighborhood can be the model for others in the city.

Sincerely,
Audrey Perrott, Executive Director
Mieko Joy Yoshida, Operations & Facilities Director

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