January 31, 2006

Stop the Development. We Need a Plan

A Field of Dreams

It has now been confirmed by the Experts in their best "you don't know what you're talking about" rebuttals, that since the word "housing" does not appear anywhere in their charter, DevCorp has nothing to do with residential housing issues. We don't know whose responsibility it is, but rest assured it isn't theirs.

Forgive my confusion because we do seem to be getting mixed messages lately. DevCorp has been sending out promotional material advertising condominium opportunities outside Rogers Park and just the other day, a sign promoting the same appeared above the doorway to DevCorp's office.

But being the inquisitive type, I'm still bothered by the apparent contradiction of our only entity for community development turning a blind eye to housing issues, not just NOH, but in the entire ward.

When DevCorp developed the Gateway Mall, a Rogers Park version of "A Field of Dreams", they crossed their fingers and hoped that when they built it they would come. But they haven't come have they? The new businesses haven't and the new upscale shoppers in the area wave, thanks but no thanks on the way to Evanston. The only entity that rivals Dominick's anchor status is disappointment. Its' ever present and it's palpable. Why?

An inexcusable 15 year absence of a comprehensive housing and development policy NOH.

Well, if DevCorp denies responsibility for the revitalization for NOH, who's responsibility is it? Is it yours? Is it mine? Does anyone know? Does anyone have a plan? No, no one does.

There is no plan, unless you consider the acceptance of the status quo as a plan in itself, a kind of default philosophy. But just as every action has a corresponding reaction, innaction has results
too. And now, the plan that wasn't has created it's own consequences.

Wicker Park on the Lake

Because something has happened NOH during the last couple of years as people were busy doing other things. The free market has discovered NOH. Not because as one expert claims, a result of the Gateway Mall development, but despite of it.

With condo prices at overheated levels throughout the city and lakefront condo demand exceeding affordable supply, the marketplace has simply found comparative per square foot bargains NOH. This is not the result of a DevCorp developed strategy but simply the free market doing what it does best as it discovers price inefficiencies.

And so condo conversions, hundreds of them have accumulated from Bosworth to East Lake Terrace and has divided census track 101 right down the middle, socially and economically. With no development guidelines in place, the opportunity to create a mixed income community and a fair solution to the NOH problems within NOH, fades with each new condo conversion.

GENTRIFICATION, The Big Ugly that no one wants including myself, now seems inevitable. NOH is well on its way to becoming Wicker Park on the Lake, placing my neighbors to the west on unsteady ground yet again.

A Little Relevant History

"Any community that is well designed and well located, if left to the free flow of the market, will quickly lose any chance of economic diversity" said John Mcilwain, a senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute in Washington.

As in all recent economically upscaled neighborhoods, the expectation of services and amenities that accompany $300K condominiums as it does in other neighborhoods, will begin to exert pressure on local leadership. The Alderman will be compelled to oblige those requests or otherwise risk alienating a whole group of new, real estate tax paying constituents who will contribute to TIF coffers. Real estate has suddenly become a valuable commodity NOH.

And on a scale of 1 to 10, what are the percentages that ANY Alderman would risk the potential political suicide of alienating those new constituents?

The answers to that question are everywhere and recent and none of the possible outcomes bode well for my neighbors to the west of Bosworth or the socal service agencies who, I believe are here on borrowed time. This is not my wish, I am simply looking at very recent history.

No one truly believed that The Mayor and the CHA would actually succeed in demolishing the projects when it was first suggested, but it happened. Owners of modest homes in newly upscaled neighborhoods like Wicker Park, never beleived they would actually need to sell their homes, simply because they could no longer afford the ever escalating real estate taxes. But they did. They had no choice. The Pacific Garden Mission, at 646 North State Street for 123 years never thought for a moment that the need for the services they offered could change. But it did. As owners of the property, they considered themselves safe and continued resisting the "suggestions" from The Mayor, Alderman Natarus and others to rethink their position. But they held fast and were eventually brought, not to the negotiating table, but to the "this is what your'e going to do" table. They were moved and they were stunned. They were moved to nicer digs but they were moved, nonetheless. The mere threat of Eminent Domain, the politicians' new best friend in the ruthless, real estate commodity game, convinces everyone eventually.

Vacuum of Leadership

The issues NOH are complex. It's a geographically, self contained island of despair and a destination of last resort for displaced residents of demolished CHA projects. NOH is also home to slumlords who don't care about the neighborhood and criminals who work the neighborhood. And hidden in the shadows, living as quietly as possible are lots and lots of good people who need a break and an even chance at a better life in a revitalized neighborhood.

NOH is a smorgasbord of problems with a menu no on wants to order from.

When DevCorp was established and it came time to hash out their mission and write their charter, the language was very specific in it's vagueness. In fact the language is so loose, Devcorp could sell umbrellas during a rainy rush hour and still be within the mandate of "improving the business climate" in Rogers Park. The charter purposely excludes any mention of anything residential. Why? Because if Devcorp did residential that would mean they would have to deal with NOH.

And No One wanted to touch the issues North of Howard because No One wanted to risk their political or personal reputation trying to solve these difficult issues.

So in the room, everyone took a furtive glance at the menu and shook their heads. No slumlords or racially sensitive issues for me thanks, I'll just have a small salad. And so the charter was written to reflect that fear and set into motion, 15 years of absentee policy NOH. And so the Experts were right about DevCorp not doing residential. I just happen to disagree with the decision.

As just plain people like you and I, the likelihood is better than 50/50 that we would have asked for the small salad too, instead of the whole enchilada NOH sampler plate. The problem is that you and I are not the hand picked or elected leaders of our neighborhood. We might not have taken the risk and chosen to confront the NOH dilemma, but someone had to.

We expect our elected leadership to have the vision, explain the vision and point us in the right direction. For 15 years we've been pointed every which way but NOH. We expect our elected leadership to have the courage to confront difficult issues, not ignore them for 15 years until the problem becomes more complex.

And now it is more complex because the blind eye policy vacuum has created Wicker Park on the Lake. And this "accidental" result is the direct result of not having a comprehensive development policy for NOH. These same unintended results will be happening all over our ward if the pace of development continues without a plan.

Oh, but the Experts will come out of the woodwork and say that I've gotten exactly what I've been asking for. The economic imbalance is beginning to shift and we'll soon see investor confidence NOH and the services and amenities will be there soon.

And I say, this condo conversion process has been happening for a few years now and we've lost stores on Howard Street in the interim. I say, I've never wanted an upscaled neighborhood that would put my good, law abiding neighbors to the west on shaky ground. I say, the social service agencies will be needed to help transition my neighbors if a plan ever takes shape. I say, NOH has the same difficult issues it's always had and NOTHING has been solved. I say, as I have for some time now, that Howard Street and Gateway Mall will continue to suffer until the issues here are solved.

We're All in the Same Boat

In my recent essays, I have suggested a mixed income solution for NOH as a fair compromise to those problems we face here. These suggestions were made not because I want my neighbors to the west removed as claimed by the experts, but because I want the good, decent and hardworking neighbors included. The calls for a mixed income compromise NOH, were in the context of a "NOH only" solution. But the recent conversion of all available rental apartments to condominiums NOH, has now limited that as a possibility. I was simply hoping that we could solve our own problems NOH by ourselves with our own housing resources and I'm no longer sure that we can.
I'm not sure if anyone knows and that uncertainty is not an isolated NOH issue, it is the core of a wardwide problem. No one knows.

And so I will ask the question again. When the political pressure starts to build for services and amenities NOH, what will happen?

I think I can reasonably project how the knee jerk argument will play out since I have a little experience in that "misunderstanding and assumption"department. At first, there will be polite discussion that will quickly disintegrate into frustration and animosity, as it always does. Then, the battle lines will be drawn down the middle of Bosworth and the awful and divisive"us versus them" talk will begin on both sides of the aisle as it has everywhere else. We can get ahead of this inevitability for once and we should. We need to, because there is no "us versus them" reality. The truth is we are all in the same boat, in the same neighborhood, in the same ward, facing the same problem. The consequences to each of us might be different, but the problem is a shared one.

And that problem is an inexcuseable, 15 year absense of a comprehensive development and housing policy in Rogers Park.

We are all on shaky ground. We are all feeling a little unstable because none of us knows what the future will bring. We all wonder what will become of our neighborhoods and our own particular blocks because of all the helter skelter development.

We have no idea what's going on unless you include the dog and pony shows that get passed off as "community input. " We arrive, if we are lucky enough to be notified in time, and are asked to make architectural, aesthetic, density and economic impact decisions in 20 minutes based on a rendering that gets spit out of a printer from an architect who hasn't visited the site and whose design only shows his building as if it were floating in free space.

This is not urban planning. This is a very risky game of adult hide and seek and without a comprehensive plan, our whole ward will evolve into Wicker Park on the Lake. With DevCorp out of the picture,the only entity between us and the next wrecking ball is the Aldermans office.

And in all due respect, these myriad development and housing issues are much too complex for the current hit or miss policy he is asking us to accept. We need a plan. Am I the only person who feels this way?

Stop the Development. We Need a Plan.

We are all affected by the uncontrolled development in our ward and the tax giveaways that are now surfacing as a result of The Devon/Sheridan TIF. Do we really understand the full impact that all of these proposals are going to have on our lives, our property values, our taxes, our businesses, all of our neighbors, our children and our neighborhood?

No we don't but we should. We must know. We deserve to know.

We need to regain control of our neighborhood and our lives before Rogers Park turns into a place we no longer recognize. We need to decide our fate instead of being shocked 18 months later, as just happened when our neighbors were informed that a building they believed was included in a downsizing proposal, was not. We need to retain the social and economic diversity of the neighborhood we are proud to call home. We need to make certain that a reasonable proportion of affordable rental units are either built or maintained so that there is a place for those who can't buy, to still live in Rogers Park. We need to confront the difficult issues NOH in an atmosphere of trust and fairness without resorting to the knee jerk and divisive racial accusations that no longer have a place in the discussion.

We need to enlist the help of urban planning experts such as www.cnu.org, whose organization just moved to Chicago or www.civiceconomics.com, who assisted Andersonville www.andersonvillestudy.com in their study of Clark Street or www.corcoranjennison.com all of whom have extensive knowledge in this field of study. We don't need to look any further than Edgewater to see how planning and controlled development might work for Rogers Park. We need to use the research that the Rogers Park Conservancy has done and we need to incorporate a lakefront plan as part of a comprehensive, development solution because if we don't, a plan will be given to us that won't resemble anything we want. We need to understand what everyone needs and wants so that we can work towards a fair solution for our entire ward. We need to be conciliatory during this process and understand that we all might not get exactly we want.

We need to show the city and the rest of the country how a community that speaks the most languages, can all come together to speak the same language. The language of cooperation.

Neighbors, we need a breather. We need a comprehensive development plan for Rogers Park.

I'm not an expert and this is no publicity stunt because the issues are much bigger than any of us individually. I am simply a father who is worried that the neighborhood he decided to move into 6 years ago to raise his daughter, is suddenly looking quite different today. I am a neighbor who's concerned that myself and a lot of my neighbors, might not be able to afford to live in Rogers Park anymore. I worry that with the consequences of the helter skelter development that is occuring and endangering our architectural heritage, I might not want to live in Rogers Park any more.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Because if you do, I will offer a plan for us to regain some control over our neighborhood in the good, old fashioned Rogers Park tradition. Stay tuned or contact me.

by GaryFuschi@yahoo

The Law Of The Land - II

The Religious Facet

Having written in part I that the Archbishop of Canterubury was also the Chancellor of England, provides proof of the enormous power over the peasants as well as the nobility. It was the wheeler dealer of influence and power. Usually a stone structure, it stood high above the thatched hovels where peasants slept on earthen floors. Like the king’s ‘divine right’, the church manipulated the people with both fear and entertainment. It held festivals to observe the ‘old ways’ that had been transformed into religious holidays. If a church law was broken, the ultimate punishment was expulsion and an after-life in Hell.

This control was held in many ways to accommodate both church and king. Tithes or taxes were demanded. The peasants frequently paid these ‘taxes’ with livestock, chickens, eggs, and grains. The lords paid the taxes with the sweat and toil of their peasants for the fiefs. It might be fair to say the peasants may have either worked themselves to death from fear, exhaustion or starvation.

The church had a form of welfare system. Have you ever heard ‘alms” to the poor? The church fed those who had virtually no means of income. Another dichotomy? To provide enough spiritual eyes and ears, the priests often paid substitute priests, or vicars. Unfortunately the historical versions state that many vicars were politically corrupt. The church was used to thresh hay and cattle grazed on the church lands. The church bells were the calls to begin or to finish work for the day. The church was both a spiritual and physical manifestation in peoples lives. From the milestones of birth and baptism, marriage and more baptisms, and finally in death, it was the supporting columns of an institution that controlled the lives of nobility and peasants. The symbiosis between king and church was an intricate blend that sometimes hurt everyone in those times.

January 30, 2006

Pivot Point Meeting

January 23, 2006 49th Ward Service Office (773) 338-5796


Alderman Joe Moore announced today he will hold a community meeting to review a proposal to redevelop the building that once housed the headquarters for Pivot Point International into a mixed-use building, containing 37 residential condominium units and nearly 7,000 square feet of commercial space. The meeting will be held at Gale Community Academy, 1609 W. Jonquil, on Mon., Feb. 6th at 7:00 p.m.

The six-story building located at 1791 W. Howard St. on the southeast corner of Howard and Clark Streets. The developer, the Kopley Group, plans to perform a gut rehabilitation of the building. Under the proposal, four of the condominium units would be set aside for affordable ownership in the City of Chicago’s Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods (CPAN) program.

The property is part of the Gateway Planned Development and is 10,640 square feet in size. The current underlying zoning designation is B3-2, which allows for 10 housing units. The Kopley Group has applied for a zoning change to B3-5 in order to develop the additional units.

The proposed zoning change must receive City Council approval. Because the site is in a planned development, the proposal also requires the approval of the Chicago Department of Planning.
The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee is currently considering the proposal.

“As with every proposed zoning change in the neighborhood, this proposal must be subject to a thorough community review process,” said Moore. “I look forward to hearing from the members of the community,” he added.

********Thanks Julie!

The Law Of The Land - I

The kingdoms in feudalism, being of enormous size, were ruled by kings who believed they were entitled by divine right, or the right to rule granted by God, and were passed on through heredity. In those times, it was impossible for a king to hands-on govern his lands without cars, computers and cell phones. In those days, it took days to travel from one part of the kingdom to another. So to maintain his control of the lands, the king would appoint barons and writing a contract to oversee a fief.

Upon being granted or inheriting a fief, the barons became a vassal of the king. The same Barons became lords of their fiefs. With his contract with his barons, the king appointed and directed subordinates. To accomplish this contract of control, the king would give his barons a portion of the his land. These portions were known as fiefs or manors. In turn, the barons were required to pay homage and fealty to the king. To accomplish this, the barons put much of the burden upon the vassals who were persons holding a fief granted by a superior or lord. To fulfill the contract between a lord and his vassal, the vassal was required to pay ‘homage and fealty’. This payment to the king was by giving their support to the king at all times, by governing the lands and by being on call to do military service. Broken down, this usually meant monetary and military support. It oftentimes meant doing special duty such as serving on the lord’s court.

Now and then a vassal wanted to be excused from the military service requirement and paid ‘shield money’ that was frequently used to pay for mercenaries, or a ‘regular army’. They also had to pay taxes when the king demanded them. Upon the death of a baron, his fief was passed on by heredity. The recipient of such fief was required to pay an inheritance tax. If the receiver was a minor or a female, the title could wait until the minor came of age or until the woman was married to someone approved of by the current king.

Oddly enough, the barons found they had many of the same problems the king had – governing large territories without modern day transportation and communication. So they divided their lands like the king had done. Except they granted lesser fiefs to a relative or a trusted knight. The relatives and/or knights in turn, would subdivide the fiefs creating even more. As time went by, these holdings were passed from generation to generation. This class of lords and fiefs became the upper nobility class. Feeling their status was superior to the common peasants or serfs, the lords mistreated the common folk and demanded much from them.

Another entity holding great power over the people similar to the lords were the church leaders. One might consider them the cheerleaders for the kings and barons. Many church leaders or bishops held power over the people similar to the lords and were active in politics and government. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also the Chancellor of England in 1381. Many bishops were granted their own religious fiefs so to speak. By being deeply ingrained in the peasants lives, the bishops of the church had power over the people similar to the lord of the manor. The uneducated peasants thought they could buy their way to a better life in the next reincarnation by working harder and giving more to the church in this lifetime. The church in turn paid the lord of the land and kept the bishops and nobility well-fed. To serve both king and bishop for a better after-life, the peasants worked themselves to death.

January 29, 2006

Meeting For Proposed 7 Storey Development

Neighborhood Meeting 2.1.06

Alderman Moore's Response on Adelphi Demolition


I was told you sent me an e-mail regarding your concerns regarding dust at the Adelphi demolition site. I searched my e-mail in-box and did not find any such e-mail. Nonetheless, I personally visited the site on Saturday afternoon and met with one of the demolition company's employees. Although they were not actively demolishing the site at the time I stopped by, they did have a water truck present and a hose connected to a city fire hydrant. The gentleman assured me that they were wetting down the site as they proceeded with demolition, and would continue to do so until the demolition was completed.

Perhaps they did not have a water truck and hose at the time you visited the site on Thursday or Friday, but they did have one present on Saturday. I appreciate your concern regarding this matter. Please feel free to continue to bring any matters of concern to my attention.

Very Truly Yours,

Joe Moore

Note: I received this e-mail from Alderman Moore at 12:26pm Saturday. The Alderman indicated that he had not received the e-mail I customarily send simultaneous to my posting of any letters I write to him. I added this P.S. at the bottom of the resent e-mail.

P.S. I received your e-mail and thank you for your response. I am sending this again as a courtesy. I received the customary verification when I sent the original message as I always do. I am not certain what happened in this case. I apologize for the technical error.

January 27, 2006

Letter to Alderman Moore


Alderman Moore,

I would like to thank you and Mr. Land for allowing Julie Segraves, reporter for the ChiTownDailyNews and I, the the opportunity to view the asbestos abatement documents that are on file at your office.

In the course of our review, I mentioned to Mr. Land that we had visited the Adelphi Theater demolition site just prior to our meeting. The inspection revealed the fact that despite the mid 40 degree temperature, Delta Demolition had yet to make arrangements to"wet down" the site to prevent excess dust according to Chicago EPA guidelines. The continued demolition yesterday resulted in dust in the air and on the surrounding homes and vehicles. As you can see from the photograph, this claim is not exaggerated.

Mr. Land indicated to me that there were concerns regarding runoff water freezing overnight once the temperature dipped below freezing. When pressed on the daytime temperature threshold that this issue would no longer be a concern, Mr. Land could not provide an answer and our conversation ended at that point.

In all due respect to Mr. Land, Chicago EPA guidelines are clear and supersede all local concerns in their jurisdiction. The Chicago EPA rule states that demolition sites must be "wetted down" once the temperature is above 32 degrees. As few, if any demolition projects take place during evening hours, the rules are in place so that daytime temperatures are the deciding factor.

Mr. Land and Delta Demolition have, in my belief, misunderstood the intent of the law that governs this issue. As a result of this continued misunderstanding, neighbors and property in the immediate vicinity are again being exposed to excessive dust and possible health concerns.

This condition is unacceptable as I am sure you will agree. By allowing this condition to persist, the community is left with the mistaken impression that your office accepts the fact that Delta Demolition is diregarding the law. As I'm sure this is not the case, I and all concerned residents urge to take action to rectify this matter. If there needs to be a clarification regarding the EPA rule and intent, we should arrange to have an EPA inspector meet us at the site. If arrangements need to be made to provide the demolition company access to needed water, I believe those arrangements need to be made. There is a fire hydrant on the southeast corner which can be utilized for this purpose.

Additionaly, I am anxious to receive updates from the inspections conducted last week as you promised. Please advise me of the status of those reports.

I am posting this letter and as always would appreciate a response that I can share with the community. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this important issue.


Gary Fuschi

YELLOW Light For Field House-Proceed With Caution

Alderman Moore just called me at work to let me know that Gale Field House will be on the Public Building Commission agenda for February 2006.

Sorry for asking double questions Joe! Just wanted to make sure.

Yeah, I edited my own post on my own blog.

Another Concrete Cookie Cutter Cracker Box

Day Late and a Dollar Short ( Part Two )

If anyone thought my rant yesterday was a little over the top and that maybe I was spending a little too much time with our new friend Toto, read this excellent article by Julie Segraves of the Chi Town Daily News.

On Wednesday, the 25 neighbors who attended the Pottawatomie Park meeting to "review" and provide input on plans for a new condo building at 1839 West Touhy, found out what it means to be "a day late and a dollar short." Well, 18 month's short to be exact.

And Juliet? Well our poor neighbor in distress will be asking "wherefore art thou talented architect" till the cows come home if this story is any indication of the current development and design process. Answering questions from the attendees, this "architect" admits a little fact that will make your jaw drop.


Local News. Rogers Park Residents View Building Plans by Julie Segraves

January 26, 2006

"Breaking News"

The Wisdom Bridge Arts Project is proud to announce the opening of:

"Breaking News"

Featuring art by Rogers Park's Nationally Syndicated Editorial
Cartoonist, Tim Jackson

Friday, January 27th, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

You and your guests are cordially invited to enjoy refreshments
and meet the artist.

Wisdom Bridge Arts Project
7543 N. Paulina Ave. - Plaza Level of Gateway Mall
Next door to Dunkin' Donuts and the #97 Skokie Bus
Parking at Upper Level of Gateway

January 25, 2006

Just Another Concrete Cookie Cutter Cracker Box

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Blogger Bob posted that comment on the Hellhole the other day. I clicked back to the photo Craig took of the Adelphi Theater which showed the steel jaws of the crane smashing a giant hole in the back wall and I sat there in front of my flat screen and I felt sick. I felt sick for Bill Morton and his dedicated group. I felt sick for our neighborhood as we had to stand around and watch another significant piece of Rogers Park get taken down and end up unceremoniously as resaleable bundled brick and container debris. I felt sick for our city and for the systematic rub out of our rich, eclectic architectural history.

I thought about all the beautiful prarie style houses that are gone, like the one just demolished on Ashland near Montrose. All the prim little two flats and farmhouse style wood frame houses that are gone because the land is more valuable now than the structure that sits on it. On Washtenaw and the river, there was an old, historic boatyard where old men spent endless offseason hours repairing wooden hull boats. Gone. Ashland Avenue used to be an odd and interesting mix of commercial buildings that was once home to various, succesful businesses that employed people. Gone. And what has progress handed us as a replacement?

A canyon of concrete cookie cutter cracker boxes.

Everywhere you look there are building after uninspired, poorly executed and badly designed buildings that have no sense of place and offer no hint of architectural history. Oh, but let's exclude from this tirade against "insignificant architecture", those structures that feature tiny slivers of limestone trim which really only forecast overpriced, "luxury" granite countertops once you get inside. And don't forget to compliment the architect in his little nod to history when he includes an iron "Romeo and Juliet" balcony in front of a door that goes nowhere, added as a "design detail" to break up the monotony of a bland split face block wall 50 feet higher than it should be. A quick glance reveals balconies so narrow, the only way Juliet could possibly call to Romeo from said balcony, is if she were bulimic. "Wherefore art thou, talented architect?"

And how about those 5 story, monstrously out of scale cigarette packs turned sideways plopped in the middle of a row of modest, 2 story wood frame houses? That works for me. On the 1800 block of Estes and I mean no offense to the neighbors who negotiated their best to downsize the original proposal, the new citywide developer boondogle is to completely turn the whole building sideways. There is no front. The front is on the side to take full advantage of every valuable square inch of profit possible.

What the Heck is Happening to Our City?

I swear, the whole city is being remodeled by the same guy. One untalented, visionless, overworked and highly overpaid basement dwelling excuse for an architect is responsible for turning our city's renowned architectural diversity into a boring shopping mall aesthetic that will have historians scratching their heads and asking, "What happened to that beautiful city?"

The Answers:
1. Greed
3.A charade of developer friendly rules, regulations and red tape designed to discourage community dissent and real participation until after the fact and a loop hole ridden process of impossible to follow paperwork that allows developers to hide their true identities and influence.

Any well meaning individual who attempts to find the true owner of a proposed project, such as the Adephi Theater will enter into a carnival style hall of mirrors. Corporate names change so frequently you wonder if you're coming or going and at $75 per peek at an LLC document, you will soon be going broke. There are so many name changes, quit claim deed and related filings on record, it just makes you wonder. But, we are not supposed to wonder about those things. We are expected to take everything we are told at face value.

Meet the Developer

It's bad enough that the Adelphi Theater is being reduced to rubble. But with the information that has surfaced about this developer, if it is true, makes the loss of that beautiful building all that much more difficult for me to stomach. I wish someone would just lay out the facts for once. The real facts. That should be a requirement of the development proposal process.

Before the community gets to see the design, the long and complex paper trail should be laid out in it's entirety and all the financial statements should be made available in the spirit of full disclosure, similar to an election requirement. If the building that replaces the Adelphi Theater is so beneficial to the progress of the community and the architecture so much more "significant" than the Adelphi, why would the true owner of the property hide behind a paper trail? What is there to hide? I think we deserve to know who is making a killing in our neighborhood. I think we deserve to know who is tearing down the Adelphi and replacing it with just another concrete cookie cutter cracker box replete with all the inspired details that will surely land 7070 North Clark Street on the list of historic buildings.

This building has it all and more. In a moment of divine inpiration, the architect added a clocktower and how appropriate that detail is because in my view, that clock symbolizes our architectural history. Every minute that goes by, another concrete cracker box is being proposed somewhere else in our great city.

And as long as this developer friendly process remains intact, our objections to these projects will always be a day late and a dollar short.

by Gary Fuschi

The Howard TIF could pay for the Gale Park Field House

If you live in Rogers Park, you may well be under the impression that the main point of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is to build shopping malls, endow your ward organization, and reward your campaign contributors with property tax kick-backs. Not so everywhere.

Excerpt from the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group's essential TIF Almanac, July, 2003:


Can you pay for public works projects with TIFs?

TIFs and Infrastructure: Key Facts

* Public works projects, including school and park improvements, can be paid for with TIF funds.

* TIF dollars should be used to supplement existing public works and infrastructure spending, not as a substitute.

* Well-planned infrastructure improvements can be an effective way for TIFs to benefit existing residents and small businesses.

Public works projects – such as road improvements, streetscaping, school construction and repair, and park improvements – are all eligible TIF costs. In fact, the estimated project budgets for the first 101 TIFs set aside up to $1.92 billion for public works projects over the 23-year lives of these districts. About $113 million has already been allocated.

Infrastructure improvements are among the best ways to spread the potential benefits of TIFs to those who already live, work, or run a businesses inside the district. Repairs to industrial streets and viaducts help to keep businesses – and the jobs they create – in Chicago. Without adequate transportation to their companies, it is often difficult or impossible to receive and make shipments – a life or death issue for a manufacturer. Improvements to a commercial area – such as streetscaping or sidewalk repair – can make the area more desirable to potential customers, as well as to new companies that may hope to locate in the area. Park and school improvements can make a neighborhood a better place to live and raise children.

Public works projects can even help residential, commercial, and industrial areas to peacefully co-exist and eliminate the tension among competing land uses. ...

Residential Infrastructure in TIFs

Basic neighborhood infrastructure projects – such as streets, sidewalks, alleys, sewers, and water mains – are typically funded through the City’s general revenues. General obligation bonds, sewer and water fees, and other City funds do – and should – pay for the basic infrastructure needs of our neighborhoods (though the City does not tend to invest in these projects as much as it should). Still, there is a role for TIFs in neighborhood infrastructure, particularly when it comes to specialized economic development projects or municipal facilities such as schools, parks, or libraries. ...

Have TIFs Helped to Rebuild Neighborhood Infrastructure?

As you can see from the preceding charts, the lion’s share of new infrastructure spending paid for by TIFs has been in the older TIF districts in the Central City. So far, TIFs have not provided a significant source of funding for neighborhood infrastructure projects in most TIFs.


Gale Park is technically outside the Howard TIF area. The Howard TIF area is
south of Howard and west of Ashland, across the street from Gale Park.

Howard-Paulina TIF profile

However, Gale Park is an eligible location for TIF expenditures by virtue of being across the street from a TIF. This same wrinkle in Illinois' TIF laws was used by Mayor Daley to help build Millennium Park. Millennium Park is not in any TIF, but it is across a street (Michigan) from the City of Chicago's oldest and most lucrative TIF, the Central Loop TIF. TIF money can cross streets. TIF money can be used for parks.

Here's the language used to allocate TIF money from the Central Loop TIF to Millennium Park:

Millennium Park involves public property that is either contiguous to, or separated only by a public right-of-way from, the Central Loop Redevelopment Project Area ... and is therefore eligible for the use of certain funds from the One Hundred Forty-two Million Three Hundred Forty-six Thousand Six Hundred Fourteen Dollar ($142,346,614) City of Chicago Tax Increment Allocation Bonds (Central Loop
Redevelopment Project), Series 2000 issued on November 8,200O (the “Central Loop Redevelopment Bonds”), which shall be used to pay certain costs of Millennium Park...

-Chicago City Council Journal of Proceedings, 12/13/00

If it's good enough for downtown, why isn't it good enough for the neighborhoods? Next time you're downtown enjoying our new lakefront park facilities, look around and think of Gale Park.

For another example of TIF funds being used for park facilities, you also need to go downtown.
While riding the Brown or Purple lines, gaze longingly to the west as the EL passes over Division. Notice the new field house and open green space. The Near North TIF district was established in July 30, 1997, in roughly the the Cabrina Green area, from North to Chicago and the EL tracks to Kingsbury. The City of Chicago entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Chicago Park District to transfer $3.2M to build a field house in Seward Park.

Excerpt from NCBG's Near North TIF Profile:

Developer: Chicago Park District
Description: Expand and rehab Seward Park from existing fieldhouse north to Division Street.
Private Investment: $0.00
TIF Assistance: $3,200,000.00


From the Chicago Park District web site:

Seward Park

Park Description

Located at the corner at Division Street and Orleans Avenue in Near North sits the expansive, two-acre Seward Park with a newly renovated front lawn, ornamental fountain, playground and clock tower.

Seward Park offers the right mix of athletic programming, cultural arts partners and family special events for residents in this emerging neighborhood. Individuals and teams frequently rent Seward Park’s two gyms for sports leagues and games, fundraisers, parties, corporate outings and more.

Seward Park offers the following programs for different age groups at various times throughout the year: basketball, boxing, track and field, volleyball, arts & crafts, indoor and outdoor soccer, T-Ball, summer day camp, Cubs Care Rookie Baseball, and bitty basketball. Check the seasonal program schedule, @PLAY, for current class information.

Professional dance company, Chicago Dance Medium, calls Seward Park home. The Chicago Park District Arts Partner offers Ballet, Body Shop, Creative Movement and Pilates Method classes for young and adult dancers. Raw Footage is the company’s inter-generational community outreach performance project, in which anyone can get involved.

Another partner, Barrel of Monkeys, empowers students to imagine and create stories, which are later assembled into original comedic sketches performed by actors. Finally, Tango Sentido Production Inc. offers six-week courses in the rhythmic and sensual Buenos Aires-style tango.

Seward Park features two gyms with balconies; men’s & women’s locker rooms; a dance studio; six club/meeting rooms; a boxing ring and room; playground; two softball/soccer fields; and several outdoor basketball standards.


To date, Alderman Moore has helped secure funds from the Howard TIF to help aldermanic pal Rudy Mulder build Gateway Mall and aldermanic pal Jay Johnson gut the Howard Theater. Is there any money left for our children?

But we can't wait too long - the Howard TIF expires 10/14/2011.

January 24, 2006

Another Perspective

Let's take a break from tearing down theaters, begging you to sign the Gale Park Field House petition and look at life from another Perspective

I met Anne at a CAPS meeting. When we established a friendship, I was delighted to see her work. I hope Anne's work brightens your spirits.

You just never know who your neighbors are until you open the dialogue.

January 23, 2006

Alderman Moore's Response

I received this email from Alderman Moore at 5:23pm Monday

Dear Gary,

I would like to update you on the Adelphi Theater demolition. Michael Land on my staff spoke with Alan Rowder of the City of Chicago Department of Environment. Mr. Rowder indicated that before any demolition permit is issued, the applicant must file with the city and the state a certification that all asbestos has been removed from the property. Mr. Rowder confirmed that such a certification for the Adelphi site was filed with the city.

Mr. Rowder agreed to send an inspector to the property to ensure the demolition was proceeding safely and that there were no health or safety risks. He also related that an inspector from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency visited the site today pursuant to a citizen complaint. He promised he would provide our office with a full report from both the state and city inspectors.

Mr. Land in my office also spoke with a representative from the demolition company, Delta Demolition. The company provided Mr. Land with a copy of a certificate that the demolition company filed with the state EPA indicating that 200 linear feet of asbestos had been removed from the building prior to demolition. The asbestos abatement was performed by another company. A copy of the certificate is available in my office for review.

Thank you for your concern. I will keep you up to date with any new information as it becomes available. Please feel free to pass on this information to others.

Very Truly Yours,

Alderman Joe Moore

January 22, 2006

Backfire On Eminent Domain

Mr. Conservative probably didn't think his plan could Backfire

This could happen in Chicago too couldn't it?

Oh, and while you're here, why don't you Sign The Save Adelphi Petition?

January 21, 2006


Having read all the apologists arguments who claim DevCorp has no responsibility to neighborhood residential development; having equally borne the assaults toward Gary from the apologists who suggested he was barking up the wrong tree, this priceless vision appeared before me today.

advertisingnew biz 001

The chastisement was so horrendous that Gary felt compelled to write:

I Lied
"When I offered the radical suggestion that DevCorp should be responsible for the revitalization of NOH as the study suggested, the Experts pointed out that housing revitalization was not in DevCorp's charter."

Regarding the alleged non-involvement from those who swore they have nothing to with residential development, well, this vision in lavender is priceless.

advertisingnew biz 001 (1)

It’s as though someone is making an obscene gesture with a middle finger to the North of Howard neighborhood.

Alderman Moore's Response

I recieved this email at 3:08pm , Saturday.


Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Adelphi demolition. I will ask my staff to look into the matter on Monday.


Alderman Moore, I want to thank you for your response. I look foward to hearing from you next week.

Letter to Alderman Moore

Alderman Moore,

As I'm sure you know, the demolition of the Adelphi Theater building began yesterday. My disapointment regarding the destruction of this architecturally significant building aside, there have been numerous complaints and concerns registered from residents living in the vicinity of the building. The complaints range from nausea, an inability to sleep and excessive dust from the worksite.

Considering the age of the building and the many renovations the building has undergone during it's lifetime, I think a reasonable assumption can be made that the building might contain asbestos or other toxic chemicals. And considering the open air method by which this building is being demolished, the possibility that those chemicals are now being released into the atmosphere are a real possibility. This could be a potentially dangerous condition especially for children and people with respiratory health issues.

Has an environmental analysis been done by the Department of Buildings prior to the issuance of the demolition permit?

I think this issue needs your immediate attention and I and everyone in the vicinity would appreciate your immediate response. Please respond in a letter that I can post so that your constituents can be assured of your concern. Thank You.

Gary Fuschi

January 20, 2006


Propaganda Police

During the course of this series on DevCorp, a few interesting developments have occurred in blogland. The most important has been the arrival of Donald and Daffy. Their comments offer much needed comic relief just when things get too serious and remind us that we are just people, after all, fumbling around and seeking answers to questions about important issues that affect our lives. I like the ducks and appreciate the timeout they provide. Kudos to the anonymous author and my aplogies in advance for the liberties I will be taking with your blogland persona.

Of lesser importance has been the introduction of 2 new blogs that claim to set a new standard of fairness and in the process, hope to balance out all the "negative" stories they claim are being written by our neighborhood "attack blogs", 24/7 included. Altruistic intentions aside, this is an election year and make no mistake about it, this is the propaganda police. They have been trotted out not to even things out, but to even the score.

And considering the fact that on one site, the anonymous author seems preoccupied with disputing every word that is written in this space, I guess I should be flattered. But I'm not. I'm sort of disappointed because I appreciate a good debate. I think it's good for the brain and good for the neighborhood. There just isn't enough meat on the bones of this person's rebuttal for me to sink my teeth into. It probably has something to do with the subject matter which, so far, has been to defend DevCorp at all costs. Honestly, it's more interesting reading the comments by Donald and Daffy.

So, as I thankfully put an end to this 4 part series, I will take a cue from the ducks and try to inject a little humor into this last essay. I have taken the liberty to change the title and content of this last installment. The "Everybody Loses" essay will appear at a later date.

My Flawed Analysis

My new allies in progress have collectively decided, that all of the conclusions I have put forward cannot possibly be correct. In fact, I have been given an ultimatum and a new set of marching orders. As a price for my constructive criticism, I must now offer my own plans as penance. Being the modest person I am, I began to consider the possibility that they were right. Maybe I've got it all wrong and my analysis was somehow fundamentally flawed. So after much soul searching, I decided the only way to find out the truth would be to swallow my pride and seek their counsel. I put together a few questions that should be fairly easy for them to answer so let's play:

Ask the Experts!

Where are the hundreds of jobs promised as a result of the Gateway Mall?

One expert claims to personally know 10 people who have jobs there. Being math challenged as I am, the difference between 10 and hundreds are............?

Why does Howard Street have fewer stores now than it did 5475 days ago?

If your New Year's resolution was to practice fiscal discipline, Howard Street is the perfect place for you to shop because there is simply nothing there to buy. You will have no trouble keeping your credit card in your wallet unless you are convinced otherwise.

Why is it easier to buy crack on Morse Avenue than it is to buy stuff for dinner?

Are the questions getting too difficult? Just one more , OK?

Why is the waiting list a mile long to rent stores at Gateway Mall?

Is it the low rents being offered or is it because the shopping experience is so appealing? I'm personally thankful the Dominick's is there because after spending hours dropping a few hundred dollars in Evanston for groceries and whatnot, I always manage to forget SOMETHING and the Dominick's comes in real handy as the store of last resort.

If the experts could answer these questions and finally set me straight, it might kick start me on my road to redemption. Can you help me out neighbor?

Water Under the Bridge

I've been informed by the Experts that history is irrelevant and the Experts maintain that the only reason I'm picking apart these studies I've been reading is to create another opportunity to throw dirt bombs in the direction of DevCorp from the safety of my bully pulpit.

Funny thing about history. It seems the only people who seem to get upset about being reminded about the past are the ones who have not done what they should have. If Howard Street was a bustling, commercial thoroughfare, do you think DevCorp would remain barricaded in their office, stubbornly silent? Hmmm, I don't think so. The self congratulatory emails would be transmitted daily and the employees of DevCorp would be strolling up and down the boulevard, smiling and greeting passerby. Complimentary donuts would be passed out with each xerox copy of the study of your choice.

If you can accept credit for a job well done, you must accept the responsiblity for a job done poorly. If you are working in the the public realm, scrutiny comes with the territory and despite the "how dare you" tone that colors recent rebuttals, I will continue to do just that. Scrutinize.I didn't write the first amendment, I'm just following the rules.

If Howard Street resembled Bryn Mawr or Clark Street in Andersonville even remotely, I would throw rose petals in the path of Kim Bares. But it doesn't. Those two commercial revitalization success stories materialized in the same 15 years it took DevCorp to oversee fewer stores on Howard, edging us ever closer to dust bowl status. Be careful though, the tumbleweeds build up quite a head of steam from the wind blowing off the lake, as if we needed another reason not to stroll the boulevard.

I've read the results from their study begun in 2004. I guess I'm just being a big meanie when I suggest that the exact same conclusions would have resulted from the study done in 1998 or the one before that and the one before that. But what's so important about a couple of years here or a year there. It's just time, after all. Pffft! No problem, just cross another decade off the calendar of possibility.

And in the best new tradition of blaming the victim instead of the perp, one expert asks where I was in 1998 or 1999 or 2000 when all these decisions were not being made. Well, let's see, I was in Edgewater and........what does it matter? DevCorp wouldn't have heard me snap my fingers from there. I probably should have called them. No excuse for not calling. Geez, this is all my fault.

Or this gem:

"A 1998 plan, paid for by a developer's group, demands prompt and extensive redevelopment of a rundown neighborhood. DevCorp, already established in 1998, did have a head start on others to take the project up in 1998, if that was the direction they wanted to go. But sitting here, seven years later, any head start someone else had then, is again, water under the bridge"

If this were an episode of Law and Order and all that separated me from the 20 years to life sentence McCoy was seeking, was this closing argument, I would ask the judge for a continuance and during the commercial break I would hire another attorney based on inadequate representation.

Ahhh, the irrelevancy of time and history wrapped up in one beautiful phrase. Water under the bridge. It does have a nice ring to it until you start to think about the implications. If DevCorp hasn't quite reached "free donuts with every study" status, they should at least loan us a pair of blinders until they are.

DevCorp's Somethings

And finally, the mother of all damning with faint praise quotes:

"While we can and do ask for more, DevCorp's somethings are also somewhat effective"

My apologies to the anonymous author but I think Donald and Daffy might say QUACK! Does anyone know a quackquack good lawyer.? quackquack.

Yes, we have to acknowledge and be thankful for those somethings. Morse Avenue, Howard Street and Gateway Mall. Two major commercial thoroughfares and and an enormous shopping mall that by the most forgiveable standards could be considered works in progress, are in fact not progressing at all. By the time these revitalization efforts pay dividends, the new priority in my life will be to check the obituaries.

Oh I forgot. There is a new pizza parlor opening on Jarvis and there was the purchase of commercial space at Gateway by some Life Storage thingamajig. I don't know what they store but it sounds like something straight out of the movie "Coma". It sounds like one geeeky computer nerd with a laptop is all that will be needed to run this whole Life Storage operation, as he periodically checks on the suspended coma patients. Lots of jobs created there and foot traffic too. Maybe this Life Storage joint could be a Hallowen night attraction. But there I go again, being too critcal.

I Lied

When I offered the radical suggestion that DevCorp should be responsible for the revitalization of NOH as the study suggested, the Experts pointed out that housing revitalization was not in DevCorp's charter. OK, so let's see. DevCorp isn't responsible. The Alderman isn't responsible. That leaves only.........? So I lied because there is one more question for the Experts.

Who IS responsible for housing revitalization NOH?

So as I conclude this last essay, ( I promise), and in the best new tradition of Donald and Daffy, send me a quackquack if any of this sounds vaguely familiar.

January 19, 2006

Alderman Moore's Response

Alderman Moore's response arrived in my email @4:06 yesterday. My apologies for the delay. I want to thank Alderman Moore for his quick response.


Thank you for your e-mail. Now that I have a web site up and running (Ward49.com), notices of major public meetings that I sponsor are posted on the site. I intended to have the notice of last night's meeting posted on the web site, but unfortunately that didn't happen due to a miscommunication with the volunteer who maintains my site. I apologize for that oversight. The oversight is mitigated, however, by the fact that last night's meeting was primarily informational with no major decisions on tap.

As I indicated last night, the meeting was held at the request of RPCAN, and they agreed to undertake primary responsibility for publicizing the meeting. Nonetheless, I made sure that my office arranged for volunteers to flier the portion of the 49th Ward most affected by the TIF (Farwell south to Granville). We also notified all the major community organizations. Given that well over a hundred people have attended each of the previous TIF meetings, I believe notice for those meetings was sufficient.

Few TIFs in the City of Chicago, with the possible exception of the Wilson Yard TIF, have been the subject of more community participation and process. None of the meetings that I have sponsored and none of the community process that Alderman O'Connor, DevCorp and I have put into place are required by law. We do it because we believe community residents have a right to participate in the decisions made about the future of the neighborhood. That a minority of people may disagree with the results of those decisions, does not mean that the process was somehow flawed.

Thanks again for your e-mail. I appreciate your suggestions on how I can make the process more inclusive, and I assure you I will be more vigilant about posting notices of future meetings on my web site.

Alderman Joe Moore

Is There Hope For The Adelphi?

The scaffolding is up around the Adelphi, preparing it for destruction. It has been said that the building is of 'little historical value'. Some people in the ward disagree. I met a woman at Sunday's peace walk who forwarded this information for Roger Park residents information. Thanks J.

Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 8:44 PM
To: info@preservationchicago.org
Subject: Adelphi Theatre

Has anyone contacted you regarding the Adelphi Theatre in Rogers Park? It
was designed by John Pridmore, the same architect who designed The Vic
Theatre in Uptown. A group of 1000 residents was trying to raise money to
buy the theatre. In the meantime, Joe Moore the alderman allowed a request
from developers for a zoning change to make the area residential instead of
just commercial. The zoning change went through. They want to demolish it
and turn it into a 5 story condo. It was once owned by the man who started
the Rockettes. It was built in circa 1910 as a vaudeville theatre. It has a
mosaic sidewalk part of which is gone but the part under the theatre's eaves
is still intact. The mosaic is two movie ushers welcoming you into the

RSVP please


Sent: Jan 15, 2006 10:08 PM
Subject: RE: Adelphi Theatre

Hello Julie
Thanks for contacting us. We are very much aware of this issue. There is a
new group that has formed to advocate for its preservation called ADELPHI
THEATRE advocates

We support their efforts and I encourage you to do the same. However, the
only way to save this building is to show Alderman Moore that there is real
grass roots opposition to this project. So, the community needs to turn the
heat up on this issue to a boiling point. Let us know if you would like any
further assistance. We would be happy to come and speak to the
preservationists in your neighborhood if you want to get a meeting together.

Good luck, it's a great building.

Jonathan Fine
President, Preservation Chicago

1016 North Oakley Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60622
[773] 489-0300

January 18, 2006

To Alderman Moore

Alderman Moore,

I am writing this letter in response to the fact that at last night's meeting at Loyola sponsored by you and Alderman O'Connor, many people in the audience voiced concerns regarding lack of notification of the 4 meetings that were held to get community input on the proposed Sheridan/Devon TIF. Your response was that there was proper notification given, which didn't seem to satisfy those who had not been notified. Perhaps my experience yesterday might shed some light on the issue.

At 3 PM yesterday, I found out from a friend's e-mail, that a meeting at Loyola was taking place at 7PM. Since I had not been aware that such a meeting was planned, I thought it would be wise to check your website for official information. Your website contained no information regarding this important meeting, which was surprising, so I called your office. I was transferred to a woman who verified the meeting at 7PM, at 5400 North Kenmore, in room 142 of the Life Sciences Building. When asked the nature of the meeting, this woman told me it was a general discussion about TIFS and SSA's. When asked why no notice was posted on the 49th ward website, I was told that notification was given by flyer distribution. When asked why I had not seen any fliers, she responded nonchalantly that the bad weather over the weekend probably washed them away.

Assuming the information I was given by a staff member in your office was correct, I felt confident posting this "official" information on the blog so that other people who might be interested could attend. I found out by a commenter on the blog that the address was wrong. I found out when I finally got there, that the agenda for the meeting was entirely different than what I was told by your staff member. This was a specific meeting regarding the Devon/Sheridan TIF and not a general discussion about TIFS and SSA's. I realized then why I had not seen a flyer. I live NOH and this meeting was about a TIF in a different part of the 49th ward. So, consistent with your approach in the past, fliers were not posted in my part of town. I guess the logic assumes that what happens in another part of Rogers Park should not concern me simply because I don't live there.

If my experience is any indication, the people who complained last night about lack of proper notification were not exaggerating and in fact were right. The gap between your stated goal of "community notification" and the reality of how that "notification" is delivered to your constituency, leaves much to be desired. The importance of this issue should be reflected in your response and to this listener, your unapologetic, weary response was not indicative of your concern.

Reliable community notification is vital if we are to attend scheduled meetings and understand the issues that affect our neighborhoods. I do not think the current method of flyer distribution is the most efficient or most reliable method to achieve this goal. Inclement weather cannot be the deciding factor in whether someone receives an important notice or not. Relying on fliers in caldendar year 2006, is like sending out the town crier for a one time announcement. There are just too many variables involved with reliance only on flyer distribution and there are truly no assurances that all interested parties will actually be notified.

Allow me to make some constructive suggestions. Someone in your office had the wisdom to set up a website. I think the website should be the primary method of notification and the fliers as a supplementation to that effort. Almost all of us are online now and using the two methods would guarantee that most people would have a fair chance of being properly notified. There would also be an archived history of notices that could be used as verification of notice given. Fliers don't allow that needed verification.

Posting notices on the website would simultaneously discontinue the questionable practice of notice given only to "affected" neighborhoods. We are all affected by what happens in our ward no matter what particular street we live on. People should be given the option of attending meetings that are not specific to neighborhood. What would be the harm in allowing that?

Lastly, if your staff cannot be counted on to recite certain details properly, as happened yesterday, the website is always a perfect fallback option for callers to be referred to.

Thank you for the opportunity to make some suggestions and I hope you seriously consider their implementation. I am posting this letter because it is an important issue that affects us all. I would like a response that I can post, so that our community is reassured of your commitment to this important issue.

Gary Fuschi

Private Lives Revisited

This post came from a series of community-wide forums held in November at United Church of Rogers Park. You may find some of the information interesting to read and/or listen to.

Thank you for the investment of your time and thoughtful contributions to this effort. Our church web site also has an hour-long audio recording of Our Moral Compass: A Word From The Pews at click here to listen. The Nov. 11 forum featured presentations from a panel of Rogers Park clergy members and their discussions on a wide range of issues with residents who attended the event.

January 17, 2006

Meeting Tonight

There is a meeting being held tonight at 7PM at The Life Sciences Building, 5400 North Kenmore Ave, Room 142. The meeting is being sponsored by Alderman Moore with members of Devcorp in attendance to discuss TIFs and SSA's. This information was given to me by a staff member of Alderman Moore, during a telephone conversation.

Apparently, public notification was via fliers that were delivered some time last week. It would have been helpful to post this message on the Alderman's website.

Where's The Money?

Not so long ago, there was hope that the Park District was finally preparing for the Field House. In spite of the Park Advisory Council's recent letter to Mayor Daley, the field house is on hold' until further notice. Your Field House is on hold until the Building Commission knows where the rest of the money will come from. The project was not on the agenda January 10, 2006, due to lack of response from the Park District and the City. They are still waiting. We are still waiting...ten years of waiting.

Mayor Daley hasn't answered any of the Park Council Members via email, which means he'll probably turn to the alderman rather than respond to the authors. Well, they both have copies of the same letter demanding an answer.

If the bid is ON HOLD long enough, then the excuse will be that 'prices have gone up'or the bid is outdated and will have to go to bid again. The spawning of more excuses. From the chronology of this project, the community has been insulted with excuses. The old method of wearing people down until they shut up.

The Park Council's very first meeting to have an election, recruit neighbors and set up by-laws, was quite large for NOH. As time went by, the participation has dwindled to the elected and regulars. The same faces that are seen in various places and meetings. But at large, we are asked what we are doing, why aren't we fighting for this field house etc. Well, we are, but there is strength in numbers. Before I ask that you start coming to meetings, before I ask that you get really involved and spend your time and energy, I will ask that you simply send an email to your alderman demanding the monies be extracted from the Mayor's budget so construction can begin. A short and simple email message like this will suffice:

The Gale Park Field House bids were not on the January 10, 2006 agenda and have been tabled until the Building Commission is told where the additional funding is coming from. Will you please speak to the Mayor on the additional funding the Park District has promised?
Or Use This Online Form

Secondly, I will ask that you send a fax to your mayor demanding the same. 312 744 8045

If, when you've expended that small amount of time and energy, you are ignored, let me know if it angers you to be treated that way. You are now paying $2.00 per train ride to cover the energy costs. Everyone is paying into property taxes whether owner or renter. Everyone pays taxes at the check out counter. Even out of town hotel guests are paying taxes to the City. So where's Gale Field House?

Millions sit in incumbents 'war chests' gathered from donors. Let's challenge the Mayor and the Alderman to donate the difference to build our Field House, or at least 'reach out' to those deep pocketed contributors to give to a good cause. At least the physical manifestation of brick and mortar and programs for NOH youth would be proof of where their money went.

January 15, 2006

"We Shall Overcome"

Today would have pleased Dr. King very much. Thank all of you for making this afternoon happen in memory of his life.

Pastors Hoffman and Hutchison
Two pastors join to reflect upon Dr. King’s life and work. Pastor Eld. H. Hoffman (left) and Pastor Bill Hutchison (right).
Father and Son
Pastor Hoffman and his son Michael.
Kenny Landstrom
Kenny Landstrom recited the “I Have A Dream” speech.
Sgt. Clark
Sgt. Clark shared his thoughts of Dr. King and his hope for the community.
Moment of Reflection
A moment of reflection.
The wakl
On to the park
Small Wish

January 14, 2006

Update on MLK Walk Sunday 1/15/06

I would like to thank the following people and organizations for responding to the invitation to help flyer and/or get the word out about tomorrow's first annual Rogers Park Martin Luther King Commemoration Walk at 2PM at the entrance to Gale Park.

Flyers were distributed at Thursday's Beat 2422 CAPS meeting-thank you Eva. Sister Cecilia Fandel, HACC, copied and gave 60 to Northpoint Management office for distribution in their 12 buildings. She also had them posted with all NOHHACC programs, the Alternative High School, and to her Seniors Club as well. Thank you Sr. Cecilia!
Thanks also to Mary Jane of RPCC who offered to make copies from the email attachment I had sent. Luckily I had some flyers left to give her. Thanks to Katy Hogan who offered to post them at the Heartland and the Community Liaison office on Morse.

And special thanks to friends and neighbors who responded by phone or email, and to those who have spread the word to join in tomorrow's walk. If I missed anyone, please let me know, I'll edit and include you.

Community Liaison
1409 W. Morse Ave.
Chicago, Il 60626
773 274-2003

Heartland Cafe
7000 N. Glenwood Ave.
Chicago, Il 60626
773 465-8005

Howard Area Community Center
7648 N. Paulina

Rogers Park Community Council
1530 W. Morse

CAPS Beat 2422
Eva McCann, Beat Facilitator

Pastor Eld. H. Hoffman
Abundant Life Mission Church of God in Christ

Pastor Bill Hutchison
Light of Christ Lutheran Church
7045 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60645
Ofc: 773-262-7070

Jamaica Jerk
1631 W Howard

And special thanks to Commander Rottner, Sergeant Clark, the CAPS liaison officers Hank and Steve. There will be an additional event at 2PM - There will be a police roll call before the walk. Hot coffee and cocoa will be offered, compliments of Jamaica Jerk at 1631 W. Howard, after the walk.

January 12, 2006

See the Video of KingSnapper Tonight-Addendum

Straight from the Beat Facilitator, Eva McCann.

The Video of Operation King Snapper will be shown at the CAPS Meeting tonight. It's in the Rogers Senior building, Rogers and Clark, 1st floor. The meeting begins at 7PM.
For the month of December 2005 there were 69 arrests made, 57 of the arrestees were residents of Beat 2422.

Arrests by Type
Domestics: 5
Simple Battery: 3
Vice (other than Narcotics): 5
Quality of Life: 15
Narcotics: 17
U.U.W: 0
Theft: 8
Robbery: 2

Arrests by Location
Jargowood Area: 5
Birchwood/Greenview: 10
Triangle Park Area: 0
Bosworth: 2
Clark: 1
Jonquil: 9
Juneway: 2
Marshfield: 6
Rogers: 2
Sheridan: 6

The video clearly reflected what many in Beat 2422 have witnessed for a long time - the open air drug market. Gale School was taped with small children filing into the building while across the street deals were taking place in the vicinity of the Jonquil Hotel. The cameras scoped in on the area on Paulina that's home to Good News Church and Kitchen. A transaction set up to an undercover policeman was also taped. The video ended with photos of the offenders. Some of the faces were familiar to many of us. Discussion followed regarding residents opinions on surveillance. Most in attendance did not object as it was in the public way. The same sentiment was reflected toward the police cameras recently installed at Howard/Ashland and Howard/Damen. The pods aren't the be all and end all to crime in our neighborhood. Everyone must be observant and call 911 or 311 to report suspicious activity. We must watch out for one another.

January 10, 2006

Martin Luther King Commemoration Walk

The following was sent as an email invitation to Rogers Park Not-For-Profits, Politicians, Friends and Neighbors everywhere. I've received RSVP's from several and hope the olive branch will touch enough people to come together for an hour or so for one purpose - to observe the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King. Another important part of the gathering is to meet new people and share an experience. That's how he would want the hour to be spent don't you think?


Several weeks ago a friend had an idea. We talked it through and decided to try it. I contacted a minister I’m acquainted with and asked if he would be interested in doing something no one can recall happening here before. Possibly the first Rogers Park Peace Walk to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King. We chose Sunday, January 15. He wanted to get approval from his congregation and reach out to other NOH agencies and churches.

We have received approval from the Police and extend our appreciation to them also.

All Rogers Park churches, not-for-profits and all neighbors are invited to join Reverend Hoffman, of the Abundant Life Mission Church at 2:00 PM, Sunday, January 15 at the Howard entrance to Gale Park. Words to commemorate Dr. King will be spoken and the group will walk around the neighborhood to Paulina then Jonquil to Bosworth and end at Gale Park. Hot refreshments will offered following the walk - compliments of Jamaica Jerk on Howard. Please respond if you can attend so I can communicate an approximate number to Jamaica Jerk. Please join the Reverend Hoffman and members of his church, neighbors and friends.

Any individual or group wanting to co-sponsor the walk and help distribute flyers may contact me at toniduncan7@aol.com and I will add your name to the flyer.

January 9, 2006

DevCorp, The Price of Inaction

How Goes NOH, Goes Rogers Park

“The Rogers Park Builders Group is committed to further strengthening the Rogers Park community and with the residential renaissance apparent throughout the City of Chicago, the goal of capturing that inertia for the Rogers Park community is not unreasonable.

The concern is that this development inertia will not follow its natural course because of the current conditions in the NOH neighborhood”

Geographically separated from the rest of Rogers Park, the North of Howard neighborhood has long been considered someone else’s’ problem. The assumption has been that what happens up here matters only to the unfortunate people who live here. Local leadership and DevCorp have done their best to ignore our neighborhood in the hope that everyone else would too and that somehow our problems would solve themselves.
The conclusion that Siemon, Larsen and Marsh arrive at in a study completed in 1998, suggests quite the opposite and turns that “separate” assumption on its head.

The study titled “North of Howard Scoping Study” was distributed to DevCorp and others and outlined at a community breakfast meeting titled “The Retail and Residential Renaiassance of Rogers Park”, concluded that Rogers Park would not fully participate in the “residential renaissance” and would continue to be adversely affected as long as the “current conditions in the NOH neighborhood” continued.
This objective and sobering analysis not only put NOH back on the 49th ward map, but also verified what had been common knowledge in the investment and development community for years.

NOH and its inherent problems are not separate from the historical difficulty Rogers Park has had attracting responsible investment. NOH is the problem.

The Price of Inaction

"To be plain about it, this assessment concludes that it will take a bold initiative to significantly accelerate the revitalization of the community, an initiative that will require significant public and private investment. And that anything short of a bold initiative is unlikely to generate significant benefits".

We know now that no “bold initiative” or any plan for that matter has materialized for NOH as the study consistently recommends. In fact, most of the suggestions were ignored. Now, with eight years of hindsight and this analysis, we can begin to answer some persistent questions about Rogers Park.

Why are the property values not as high in Rogers Park as they are in other lakefront wards?
Why do we have so few retail or restaurant choices in Rogers Park, forcing us to drive in order to fill the refrigerator or eat out?
Why is crime so high and gang activity so prevalent in our lakefront ward as compared to others?
Why is Gateway Mall half empty?
Why does vacant and amenity free Howard Street remain vacant and amenity free?
Why is Howard Street so dangerous that crime cameras are required?
Where do most of the social service agencies reside that now advocate expansion of community destabilizing section 8 subsidized rentals, that continue the legacy of Rogers Park as an unsafe and unstable community?
Why isn’t DevCorp as effective as other community development agencies in attracting responsible investment to our ward?

You guessed it. NOH. It begins here and ends here. Not a pretty picture considering there is still no plan to repair our neighborhood. If Rogers Park is to prosper and progress as other wards have, NOH must be fixed. One cannot happen without the other, simple as that.

Spinning Their Wheels

"The planning process should be led by an experienced professional with facilitation and substantive planning skills".

Except for spending time promoting their members residential properties outside their charters’ boundaries, DevCorp has steadfastly refused to involve their agency and its resources to fix our neighborhood, selectively refusing to deal with residential development. This tacit acceptance of the status quo, has adversely affected almost every initiative that has been undertaken, most certainly Gateway Mall.
I think we can all agree that solving the problems NOH would be a difficult task. If DevCorp wasn’t willing to take on that responsibility directly, the very least they should have done was use this study or the many others that were done as a blueprint and hire an outside consultant to head the effort. How about setting up a separate agency whose only purpose would be residential revitaliztion as other wards have done? Make some effort.
But with so much at stake, how can DevCorp justify doing nothing?

"Nevertheless, the assessment indicates that the organic form and function, shortcomings of the neighborhood will mute the benefits which might otherwise be realized".

If DevCorp had hired a firm to simultaneously begin a revitalization effort which would have addressed the density of low income residents NOH during the mall planning process, Gateway Mall would probably be filled to capacity by now. It was strongly recommended in the study and DevCorp chose to ignore the advice and proceed with its head in the sand. Unfortunately for NOH, the studies’ prediction was right on point and could not have been made any clearer.
Fix NOH orthe shortcomings of the neighborhood will mute the benefits which might otherwise be realizedand unfortunately, muted benefits is exactly what we got.

Gateway Mall was advertised as an anchor project for our neighborhood that once built, would spur investment and create local jobs. Well, it’s been here for some time now and instead of the busy sound created from a thriving, vibrant commercial district, the only noise I hear is the wind whistling off the lake, down Howard and all through an empty, lifeless plaza. Not quite as advertised, is it?

This blunder is not on some inconspicuous corner of Rogers Park. This was a major undertaking by the agency responsible for our economic health and vitality and this failure has not gone unnoticed by the business community.
How can we expect prospective businesses to trust a community development agency that doesn’t understand basic economic cause and effect?
How can we expect potential investors to seriously consider risking capital NOH when they know the demographics are still wrong and DevCorp has spent 15 years spinning their wheels?

The short answer: they don’t.

The smart businesses are voting with their conspicuous absence, while the few businesses that believed the hype and signed leases at Gateway are kicking themselves in the pants.

by Gary Fuschi

It's a Wonderful Life (conclusion)

Everybody Loses

"Market driven redevelopment of the NOH neighborhood WILL NOT result in a mixed income neighborhood and WILL result in the displacement of lower income households"

January 8, 2006

Do You Want The Field House?

A short historical overview: The Parks Advisory Council requested that the Chicago Park District provide proof or 'manifestation' that excavation and construction would commence. As a result, we were given a snow fence.

Not our expectation


This is further proof that one must be very, very specific when making a request of any entity. It follows along the old adage…’be careful what you pray for…’. A construction trailer had been discussed after our first choice which was actual earth removing machines. We got a snow fence that is already falling down.

A reality overview is how desperately the youth need a place to gather. Younger children have after school programs. Older children anticipate each birthday so they can be ‘free’ of after school programs. If any adult can dare recall, we couldn’t wait to be 13, or 16, then 18, or 21 to be free. With that freedom came certain responsibilities, choices and the consequences of making the wrong choices. Many youngsters either aren’t taught responsibilities and choices or the consequences. If they won’t listen to their parents, which is often the case, hopefully they’ll listen to a favorite teacher. If that isn’t the case, they often listen to the anger of peer pressure. It isn’t just a NOH issue, it’s a human issue and we read of the sad consequences in the news far too often. It happens in the suburbs too. Kids steal money from middle class parents, steal vehicles for joy rides, get involved with the wrong crowd. Their lives and those of their parents can take a detour that can take years to get back to the main highway, if they make it.

This latest stall between the Park District and Building commission is enabling more youngsters here to take the wrong path. With that lack of interest in human resources, the kids are being shortchanged. So are we.

The broken left railing could be a liability if the unsecured end injures a child.
Broken Left Railing

Youngsters with small axes apparently succeeded in chopping down a tree in Gale Park. This cut doesn’t look like a professional one. I saw two youngsters chopping on a tree in the park weeks ago and reluctantly said something to the axe wielder. A small axe under a coat should be considered a concealed and/or dangerous weapon if you aren’t a logger in Washington State right?
Axed Tree

The youngsters NOH are in desperate need of that field house. It’s great that Lane Tech will, after five years of pleading, have the facilities they need and neighbors will have a park. We’ve been begging, pleading and now demanding for ten years.

If you want our Field House you may send a fax to the Mayor at 312 744 8045 and request the funding from the City be allocated before the 2PM meeting on January 10, 2006.

January 6, 2006

Tired Of Waiting

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 the North of Howard Parks Advisory Council had a special make-up meeting for the December meeting that was cancelled due extenuating circumstances. It was reported that neither the Public Buildings Commission nor the Chicago Park District had an answer to date. It was agreed that the following letter be delivered to the Mayor's office. The Parks Advisory Council President wrote the letter and I delivered it and received a signed receipt of delivery from Officer P.O. Rodriguez yesterday, January 5, 2006.

Yes, I censored the phone and email addresses.
January 4, 2006

Mayor Richard J. Daley
City Hall, Chicago
121 N. LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Honorable Mayor Daley:

The North of Howard Parks Advisory Council and the Rogers Park community has waited many years with many delays for a field house in Gale Park. Attached is a chronology of this on-going effort. The most recent delay that has occurred is that the Public Buildings Commission will not vote on a contractor until the Chicago Park District is able to provide them with the name of the source in which the final funds will be issued. The Chicago Park District has told us that the funds will be coming from the city at the beginning of 2006, in January, but did not know from which budget at that time. The Chicago Park District also tried to assure us that money was there to begin and finish this project in a timely manner.

The North of Howard Parks Advisory Council is asking you for a written response stating that the money will be given to the Chicago Park District in time for the next Public Buildings Commission meeting on January 10th and from what source the money will be allocated so the Public Buildings Commission can vote on a contractor.

Please e-mail this response to:

Eva McCann at:xxxxx.com
John Jaffe at: xxxxx.com
Sr. Cecilia Fandel at: xxxxx.com
Toni Duncan at:xxxxx.com

This letter from you would provide some reassurance to the community that this field house will finally come to fruition without further delays.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to receiving your e-mail.


Eva McCann
North of Howard Parks Advisory Council
xxx Street
Chicago, IL 60626

Cc: Jim Chronis; Chicago Park District, Alderman Joseph Moore, Patricia Lombardo; Public Buildings Commission


Fall 1996 – community members started to plan for a community youth center.

April 1997 – Community members contact Alderman Moore, Loyola University, and various developers to float the idea of using money from other developments to fund the center.

May 1997 - Alderman Moore, in his State of the Ward address states the need for a youth center in the Ward.

June 1997 – Youth organizations met to dialogue, outlining concerns. Political leaders were targeted to help in the funding process. Possible sites, north of Howard Street, were explored.

July 1997 - Loyola architects drew up plans for a youth center after viewing possible sites.

Fall 1997 – Youth organizations met and promised to work collaboratively through all the processes and to get letters of support from their organizations. Alderman Moore met with all youth organizations and other community liaisons to introduce Rudy Mulder, would be developer of the Gateway Shopping Center who made a pledge of $500,000. that did not materialize.

Oct-Dec. 1997 - Loyola U. organization, CURL, undertakes a youth survey to get input.

Jan – April 1998 – CURL holds focus groups to gain additional input.

May 1998 – Highlights of North of Howard Youth recommendations were presented to the public.

Summer 1998 – Chicago Park District works with community focus groups on developing a plan for a park and field house.
- The Chicago Park District presented a plan for the 20,000 sq. ft. field house. It was formally accepted by Chicago Park District, Gale Local School Council and principal, and Alderman Joe Moore.

1998-2001 – Major funders step forward to underwrite the cost of the 16,000 Sq. Ft. one story field house: Alderman Joe Moore, State Rep. Julie Hamos, Sen. Carol Ronen, Seabury Foundation, Chicago Park District.

Oct. 2001 – Chicago Park District present a proposal to develop a “school-park partnership” utilizing part of Gale Academy and reducing the size of the “stand alone” field house to 9,000 sq. ft. The community demonstrated that this proposal would not work as school facilities are needed daily for recreation use.

Oct. 2002 – Chicago Park District states they would break ground “next spring” (2003), on the $4.6 million, 16,000 sq.ft.

Fall 2002 – Spring 2005. Three separate groundbreaking take place.

Fall 2004 – The Park District states that there are zoning issues that need to be resolved before putting the building out for bid.

Nov. 2004 – The Park District did an internal review which showed the project $1.5M over budget, and adjustments would need to be made to bring it in line with the budget.

March 2005 – NOHPAC and community members petition the Park Board to proceed with haste on the field house.

March 2005 - Community leaders meet with all the major CPD staff and the Mayors office to demand that CPD present the inal plans for review , and to present a final timeline –in writing - to the community Apr. 12, and to begin digging the hole in Sept. 2005 and complete in time for summer programming in 2006.
- CPD promised to take the shortfall ($1.5 M) out of CPD budget. They promise to: 1. complete the transfer of funds from CPD to Chicago Building Commission by summer. CBD promises to complete its bidding process by September and to begin digging in October 2005.
Apr. 2005 – CPD makes their presentation showing minor cosmetic adjustments to bring project into line with the budget.

Aug. 2005 - Chicago Park District and the Chicago Building Commission now informs NOHPAC that the project is now $1.8 million over budget, and the digging would start in NOVEMBER. NOHPAC states that CPD has the responsibility to make up the shortfall, and to keep their commitment to begin digging in October.

Nov. 2005 - The bid for our Field House was not opened.

Dec. 2005 - The bid for our Field House was more than previously estimated, and our project is 'on hold' until the PBC is assured of the funding.

Jan. 2006 - Personally deliver letter to Mayor Daley's office outlining all the above.

This link is reflective of the Unfair demeanor that has plagued this project for too long.