Red Apple asks for liquor license

Neighbors of Red Apple Convenience planned to meet Tuesday with 32nd Ward staffers about the store at 2000 W. Chicago Ave. seeking a liquor license.

Move N Pick Convenience Inc. applied for a package-goods license Feb. 15, according to the city Business Affairs & Consumer Protection department, which starts the clock on 40 days to file objections.

Ward outreach director Elizabeth Gomez is facilitating the meeting, set for 6 pm at 2657 N. Clybourn Ave. It is unclear if owner Irar Sweiss will be invited.

Successful license protests indicate a potentially "deleterious impact" on the neighborhood. That would mean problems with parking, loitering, littering, noise, crime or property values.

Earlier, neighbor Suzanne Wahl had complained to Gomez that curb service at the convenience store was interfering with corner bus stops. Wahl is circulating a flier on the ward meeting.

Cops mark East Village apartment burglaries

With seven burglaries in East Village in a month, police are calling attention to a series of apartment burglaries.

A Feb. 22 community alert noted a series of back-door and window break-ins in the two beats bound by Division, Ashland, Chicago and Rockwell. Residents are advised to "Be aware of suspicious persons ringing door bells, and persons hanging around alleys."

Area 4 detectives noted four cases, but we found three burglaries on the 800 block of North Winchester Avenue alone, plus reports on the 1000 block of North Winchester, 1600 block of West Augusta and 1800 blocks of Division and Haddon.

Four days earlier, the 13th District issued an alert on car thefts of items such as computers and purses. The auto thefts stretch from Ohio Street south to Lake, from Desplaines to Paulina. "If you see someone tampering with a vehicle, call 911 and inform the call taker that you are reporting an auto theft in progress and provide a complete, concise description," the alert says.

District Cmdr. Frank Gross will speak at the March 5 East Village Association meeting, starting at 7 pm at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

Wood Street blues: Prepare to be impressed

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has laid down markers on the site of the soon-to-close Wood Street police station, promising something “innovative, impressive and appropriate” with a police presence.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno reveals this news in his constituent newsletter four months after Emanuel announced that the city would close the 50-year-old 13th District station house at 937 N. Wood St. as a cost-cutting measure. Moreno now is selecting volunteers to name the site's new role.

"I will be involved in the discussions, but this group will make the decisions," Moreno says.

Making an impression there is certain to be a challenge: Moreno's advisers will be bargaining with the cash-strapped city as tbey determine the scope of the transformation./p>

The 1st Ward alderman named Catherine Garypie and Tony Duffy to the working group and is seeking a third member. "Ideally, this person should have lived in and improved the community for, at least, five years," Moreno says. "This person needs to be an effective communicator and someone able to represent and reflect the thoughts and feelings of their neighbors."

He described Garypie and Duffy as "longtime community activists" but offered no details from their resumes to suggest why he chose them.

"Ald. Moreno missed an opportunity by not including representatives of local community groups in this working group," East Village Association vice president Neal McKnight said Thursday in a post on the EVA Facebook page. "Our local community organizations have a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise to offer to this process. Let's hope he reconsiders."

Two members of Chicago Grand Neighbors Association had volunteered for the committee after Moreno signaled his intent to form the group at a Jan. 15 CGNA meeting, said president Lyn Wolfson in an e-mail message. In a followup memo, Wolfson clarified that she would tell the two CGNA to apply for the open spot on the panel. Wolfson suggested that CGNA and EVA representatives review the nominees' credentials.

Sidewalk cafes put trees at risk

Is there room enough on Division Street for trees and sidewalk cafes too?

"Our office is continuing to get requests to remove tree pit fences to allow for more sidewalk cafe space," 1st Ward chief of staff Raymond Valadez says. "We need to meet as a community to discuss sidewalk cafe regulations in general and to come to a consensus on what is acceptable regarding these tree pit fences on Division Street."

Sidewalk cafe standards are on the agenda at a 10 am Feb. 28 meeting that Ald. Proco Joe Moreno has called with chamber officials, business owners, community representatives and city officials. The session is at the Bedford restaurant, 1612 W. Division St.

"I think we should propose that businesses that use the sidewalk be charged with the care, maintenance and replacement when necessary of similar-sized trees," says East Village Association vice president Neal McKnight. "This is not a bargaining chip: This should have been this way from the beginning."

Fences designed to protect the trees have been removed ad hoc in recent years to clear the sidewalk for seating at the Boundary, Moonshine, Prasino and Via Carducci, while other fences have fallen into disrepair. In some cases roots have been paved over with bricks or concrete, starving trees of air, water and nutrients.

"The trees are one of the things that make Division Street so desirable for businesses and their patrons," says EVA planning co-chair Scott Rappe.  "Expanding the cafe into the fenced area threatens the health of the trees, and puts private profits over the public good."

Bikes spoken Wednesday at Fifty/50

The future of biking in the 1st Ward is the Active Transportation Alliance topic in a 6:30 pm presentation at the Fifty/50, 2047 W. Division St.

Street festivals, bike paths and transit options are on the group's agenda this year. The event is also a modest fund-raiser: An "Active-Trans-Tini" drink special includes a 15% contribution to the group.

Extra toppings: Pizza Hut tower hearing Feb. 27

An unusually open development process at the former Pizza Hut lot continues Feb. 27 with a public hearing by Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, whose opinion has weight in City Council votes to follow.

The site at 1601 W. Division will be reviewed in a 6 pm meeting at Near North Montessori School, 1434 W. Division St.

Current plans call for 110 to 119 studio- to 2-bedroom apartments, a PNC bank and storefronts in an 11-story building. The project would require zoning changes and a planned development ordinance to waive height limits and parking requirements.

In a process Moreno put in play last year, developers Rob Buono and Paul Utigard, architect Jon Heinert and attorney Rolando Acosta have discussed plans with East Village Association representatives on Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Dec, 18 and Jan. 18, all with advance public notice.

Since Pizza Hut shut its doors five years ago, EVA has been promoting development that makes the most of the site's direct access to the CTA Blue Line station and bus connections. Planning co-chair Scott Rappe summarized EVA's Polish Triangle planning goals in a Feb. 6 statement. Text of the letter follows.

Crime safety forums added

Police Cmdr. Frank Gross and Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy beat coordinator Molly Murray are confirmed guests at the March 5 East Village Association meeting. But crime and personal safety also will be addressed in events this month that follow on recent violent crimes, including Thursday's stabbing at a North Avenue florist.

The Guardian Angels organization will conduct a self-defense class 6 pm Saturday at Champions Tae Kwon Do Institute, 2142 N. Milwaukee Ave. Space is limited (312-217-7245).

Chicago Police have scheduled "Safe and Sound" forums for 6 pm Thursday at Haas Park, 2402 N. Washtenaw Ave. (312-744-1261) and 6 pm Feb. 29 at Smith Park, 2526 W. Grand Ave. (312-746-8355).

The March 5 EVA meeting will be at 7 pm at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

McKnight slated for March 5 vote

Elections set for EVA officers
Stephen Rynkiewicz, Neal McKnight and Tom Tomek have been looking for candidates to stand for election March 5. Currently, McKnight is running for EVA president, Peter Locke for vice president, KK Goh for treasurer and the position for secretary is still open. McKnight will e-mail candidates and request a bio for the EVA newsletter.

March 5 membership meeting
Greg Nagel has asked Rachael Switall to introduce StudentsXpress as the business minute.

Tom Tomek will request for the police commander and CAPS' Molly Murray to be the main speakers to discuss crime issues. McKnight is going to write a letter regarding current crime concerns in East Village and the surrounding area and will ask other neighborhood groups to sign off.

Miller Lumber apartments hearing March 6

A four-month-old plan has resurfaced for 52 apartments on the site of the L. Miller & Sons lumberyard, 1815 W. Division St. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno will discuss mixed-use development of the site in a March 6 public meeting.

The 1st Ward office did not disclose details of the Smith Partners proposal or respond to a request for details. But development attorney Rolando Acosta briefed East Village Association planning co-chair Scott Rappe last year on a five-story plan for the site, with 9,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Rappe briefed EVA directors in November and in turn relayed their concerns about the project's height and density. Acosta did not respond to Rappe's suggestion that Smith Partners limit the project to four stories.

The number of apartments and their small size, 622 to 926 square feet, were among the points of contention. So was the height precedent and the impact on traffic and parking in a location across from an elementary school. The location's only public transit other than LaSalle II Magnet School buses is the 70 Division route on the CTA.

The March 6 hearing starts at 6 pm at the school, 1148 N. Honore St.

October 2011 renderings were drafted by Berkelhamer Architects. Antunovich Associates was the architect of record, and Smithfield Construction Group was identified as contractor. The EVA board reviewed black-and-white copies of the renderings. Rappe's e-mail response to Acosta follows, as well as the renderings.

Commercial Park movie night Feb. 24

Gunman on camera, focus on crime

Chicago Police this week released a surveillance camera photo in the fatal Feb. 9 robbery of a Subway restaurant at 1129 N. Western Ave. Lyn Ward, 54, was shot in the 8:48 pm incident and died the next morning in Stroger Hospital, according to news reports.

Area 4 detectives described the suspect on camera as a medium-complected black man in his 30s, about 5-foot-8. A community alert notes that he wore a dark knit ski cap, three-quarter-length tan parka with fur-trim hood, light blue jeans and white gym shoes with black trim. Citizens with information on the crime are asked to call detectives at 312-746-8252.

Crime is the planned theme of the March 5 East Village Association meeting. 13th District Commander Frank Gross and community volunteer Molly Murray will speak at 7 pm at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

The district plans its own safety forum Feb. 29 in the Smith Park fieldhouse, 2526 W. Grand Ave. The volunteer Guardian Angels group that patrols CTA routes is involved in the 6 pm session.

EVA supports Local First Chicago, uncovers secret


Patrick Shaffner of the Boring Store and 826CHI: The secretary avows knowledge of his actions.

East Village Association election March 5

Any member can run for office as EVA president, vice president, secretary or treasurer, president Greg Nagel noted in his Feb. 6 opening remarks. (The exception: Members running for or holding political office.) A nominating committee of Neal McKnight, Stephen Rynkiewicz and Tom Tomek will propose a slate.

"It's a great opportunity to get involved," said Nagel, who is standing down as an EVA officer but has joined the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce zoning committee. New volunteers have allowed EVA to address school and crime issues, Nagel said.

The man from 826CHI

The Boring Store sells secret agent gear — at least that's the cover story. Just don't call it the Secret Agent Store and threaten the mission, claims owner Patrick Shaffner.

Investigation reveals the storefront at 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. as a front for tutoring lab 826CHI. Its operatives run free creative writing workshops for ages 6 through 18. EVA members spied Shaffner with the evidence: books plotted by grade-schoolers, including the adventure novel "Anywhere at Once."

The mission is supported by store proceeds and fund-raisers such as the Scrabble for Cheaters Tournament. A Boring Store gift gave Local First Chicago executive director Suzanne Keers cool-auntie cred with her 13-year-old niece. McKnight offered an unsolicited yet mysterious testimonial about his children's 826CHI assignments: "They get exposed to things about the city they don't get in school."

Looking for a few good members

If you want to make a difference in your community, you'll be in good company at Monday's East Village Association meeting.

Suzanne Keers and Peter Locke of the business alliance Local First Chicago will suggest shopping strategies that strengthen the neighborhood economy. Patrick Shaffner will talk about the writing workshop his spy shop The Boring Store is supporting, and Rachael Switall will introduce the citywide school newspaper StudentsXpress.

EVA was founded to improve East Village, and Monday's meeting also starts EVA's annual search for the volunteers who make it happen. President Greg Nagel is standing down, and has asked Neal McKnight, Tom Tomek and me to find candidates for the March EVA election.

Our slate for president, vice president, secretary and treasurer will be profiled on the EVA website before the March 5 meeting. Members can nominated as officers the night of the election as well. Whoever members vote in as president will get to choose additional directors. Whether you volunteer or vote, it will be worth your time.

We're looking now: If you want to do your part for your neighborhood, come to Monday's 7 pm meeting at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott, and we'll tell you what's involved. Or follow the links above to email one of us, even if only to suggest who might be ready to take a role in the place we live.

EVA Calendar: Think local, shop local

Local First Chicago, a network of independent local businesses, makes its case for a sustainable neighborhood economy at Monday's East Village Association membership meeting. Co-founder Suzanne Keers and director Peter Locke will bring their ideas on shopping outside the big box to the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott St., at 7 pm.

Pritzker School's jazz master class


Kahil El'Zabar

A.N. Pritzker School music students this month perform alongside musicians of world renown, members of the Chicago-based Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Such collaborations are increasingly rare even in affluent suburban high schools, much less city elementary programs like Pritzker. It helps that the bandleader, jazz percussionist Kahil El'Zabar, is a Pritzker parent.

Young-lion trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophone patriarch Ernest Dawkins join El'Zabar in the Feb. 10 Pritzker workshop, which concludes with a 7 pm public performance in the school's newly renovated auditorium at 2009 W. Schiller Ave. They return Feb. 11 for a $100 VIP set and a 9 pm concert as the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

EVA Monday: Shopping out of the box

Maybe your idea of shopping local is not calling the store Tar-SHAY. What would it take to make the big-box store a last resort?

Local First Chicago, a network of independent local businesses, makes its case for thinking and acting local at the Feb. 6 East Village Association membership meeting. Co-founder Suzanne Keers and director Peter Locke will bring their ideas to the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott St. Monday's meeting begins at 7 pm.

Keers and Locke view local business as part of a sustainable economy. A Chicago study cited by Local First Chicago suggests that locally owned, independent businesses put 70% more money back into the local community than chain stores per square foot occupied. A 2009 Loyola University Chicago study of the Wal-Mart at 4650 W. North Ave. indicated that the jobs the chain created were offset by business losses that followed in West Humboldt Park.