Monday, September 28, 2015

Proposed photo essay project

I've been very keen on doing a photo essay taking aim at the 9th ward. Alas I'm only armed with a camera-phone at this point, but it's something worth doing.

Perhaps select photos could be posted to this blog's instagram in addition to being posted here. The goal is to document those areas that could use some investment on that part of town. The vacant lots and storefronts for example.

Another possible project to undertake with this project is the potential in the Chatham community as well. I want to look at the site of the proposed Hedgeman hotel near 76th & State Street for example. The purpose there may not be whether or not this is a great location for a hotel. Indeed it could be a matter of deciding what is a good vision for this area.

Main goal is to document the community as it is today and hopefully start a discuss as to how we want the community to look in the next few years. We can always come back and see how things have changed in the future.

BTW, I hope to cross-post some photo essays to the Shedd School blog as well.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

R.A.G.E. meeting on Whole Foods Market

DNA Info reported on a recent Resident Association of Greater Englewood meeting who had the featured guest Walter Robb who is the Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. A new Whole Foods store is coming in August 2016 to the corner of 63rd & Halsted and with it comes the new community liason who was just brought on in her capacity.
A special guest was introduced at the meeting: in July, the company said they were seeking a community liaison, someone who knows the community and is passionate about it. Cecile De Mello was offered the job last week.

She said she’s “honored, overwhelmed and excited.” She plans to work on creating meetings, focus groups and more, anything to connect the community to the store, she said.
And then the number of jobs expected to be created. In addition to a Starbuck's coming to the future Englewood Square shopping center there will also be a Chipotle:
The store will create 80-90 jobs, said Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional president. He estimates that at least 200 jobs will be created when the other tenants like Starbucks and Chipotle move in.

“We’re not going to make a lot of money doing this for our mission,” he said. "We’re coming on faith."
Another DNA Info article discusses the fact that there aren't enough Blacks on the Whole Foods Market board of directors or even the corporation's executive management team.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Update on Hedgeman's proposed hotel zoning hearing

The initial hearing had been held recently at City Hall an update provided by a Greater Chatham Alliance e-mail blast.
  • Update on the 76th State Street Hotel Zoning Hearing meeting held on Friday, September 18t at City Hall.

    The zoning hearing on the hotel was continued until: December 18th at 2:00 p.m. in City Hall, room 200.

    This request was officially made to the zoning board by Alderman Sawyer. The Alderman wants the developer to provide more documents and information about his proposed hotel, which is rumored to be a franchise or branded hotel.

    According to Alderman Sawyer, he has not received any new, or updated presentations regarding Mr. Hedgeman’s hotel proposal.

    The Alderman said at the zoning meeting that he was not opposed to a hotel; but, he added, the hotel had to be a branded franchise (I.e., Holiday Inn, Best Western, Marriott, Ramada, La Quinta or Embassy Suites for example).

    Approximately 35 to 40 people from the community were present. At the next zoning meeting in December, GCA hopes three or four times this amount of residents attend: we need to make sure the zoning board understands what the community wants!

    Ms. Helena Haley, President of 75th, 76th, 77th, 78th Wabash Block Club, is currently in the process of planning a community Town Hall meeting to work on a strategy for going forward.

    This meeting is tentatively slated for October.

    Be on the lookout for the October Town Hall meeting’s when, where and time.

    Attached, you will find a letter that was submitted to the City’s Zoning board by Mrs. Haley’s group.
EDIT: Forgot to post that letter. Here it is below

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Darrell Jackson out at Seaway

What is going on at that bank? Via Crain's:
The president of Seaway Bank & Trust has departed barely a year after he succeeded Chicago's longest-tenured bank CEO as top executive at Chicago's largest African-American-owned lender.

In a release, the bank gave no reason for the exit of Darrell Jackson, who took over at Seaway Aug. 1, 2014, after nearly two decades at Chicago-based Northern Trust. Veranda Dickens, chair of the bank's executive committee, is assuming Jackson's duties while she leads a search committee to find a permanent replacement for him.

“We are grateful to Darrell for his contributions to our organization,” she said in a release. “His experience and presence have been assets to our team, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Jackson's departure marks yet more uncertainty for Seaway, which has struggled to find its footing after two acquisitions of failed banks in Milwaukee and the western suburbs resulted in losses.

Dickens took over ownership of Seaway after her husband, bank Chairman Jacoby Dickens, died in spring 2013. A little over a year later, she pushed out CEO Walter Grady, who had led Seaway for more than three decades.

The bank appeared to need to raise capital to stay afloat after losses mounted, but a team of outside consultants concluded the prior management team had made accounting errors and restated six quarters of prior results. The restatement, plus an aggressive campaign to shrink the bank's balance sheet, brought capital levels back to where the bank didn't need to seek new investors.

Monday, September 21, 2015

9th Ward Community Meeting

Via an e-mail blast from Ald. Anthony Beale:
  • Please Join Us!

    9th Ward Alderman Anthony A. Beale and City Department Representatives
    present a 9th Ward Community Meeting

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015
    6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

    Pullman Presbyterian Church
    550 East 103rd Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60628

    9th Ward Alderman Anthony A. Beale
    34 East 112th Place
    Chicago, Illinois 60628

Friday, September 18, 2015

Whole Foods Market Englewood updates

Two meetings are coming up next week where Englewood residents will receive updates on the future Whole Foods Market coming to 63rd & Halsted. First up you will hear updates regarding employment, opening and other ways to support the future store at a RAGE meeting next Tuesday:
The Resident Association of Greater Englewood has invited Whole Foods to provide an update to the community on Tuesday.

Co-CEO Walter Robb is scheduled to attend the meeting to give an update on the progress of the new 18,000-square-foot Englewood store at 63rd and Halsted streets.

The RAGE meeting will be held at Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted, Room U-105 from 6-8 p.m. Dinner will be served.
On Saturday 16th Ward Ald. Toni Foulkes will also discuss the future Whole Foods Market among other issues at her meeting as well:
Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th) will discuss the new Englewood Whole Foods and more at a community development meeting on Saturday.

The meeting will take place from 10 a.m.-noon at Providence Elementary School, 6515 S. Ashland Ave.

Foulkes will also give updates on on Woods Academy and Botemps Public School, commercial property at 60th Street and Western Avenue and the Montclare Senior Residence building.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Zoning hearing for proposed Herbert Hedgeman hotel near 76th & State

Rendering of Hedgeman's Hotel

Forgot to note this. A zoning hearing is coming up on September 18th this Friday regarding that proposed hotel near 76th & State Streets. Information below is from a Greater Chatham Alliance e-mail blast:
  • Chatham and other 6th Ward Neighbors:

    First of all, we are sorry to report that Mr. Hedgeman, the developer for the 7600 S. State street hotel site, has gotten a zoning hearing meeting scheduled.

    You know what this means. WE BETTER HAVE 50 OR MORE FOLKS THERE TO SPEAK UP ABOUT IT! Don't come--- or urge your neighbors to attend-- then don't whine if the developer pushes that hotel through!

    Here is the zoning meeting info:

    Zoning Board of Appeals
    Public Hearing for Hotel Proposal of 90 rooms, 5 stories tall and 80 parking spaces
    7621-7639 S. State Street
    Friday, September 18, 2015 9 a.m. SHARP
    City Hall,
    121 N. LaSalle Street Room 200

    Dial 311 if you have questions on where to park
For additional background to this hotel read Worlee's post from about the proposal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Senior Resource Fair this Thursday!

 Via the office of Alderman Anthony Beale
  • 9th Ward Senior Resource Fair
    Thursday, September 17, 2015
    10:00 am - 1:00 pm
    Victory Center of Roseland
    10450 S Michigan Ave.

    9th Ward Anthony A. Beale
    34 East 112th Place
    Chicago, Illinois 60628
Refer to flyer below for more information as to who the service providers are.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Senior Utility Seminar & Ice Cream Social Hosted by State Rep. Thapedi

This event is expected to take place on Monday, Sept. 28, 2014 at the US Bank Building 4th Floor at 815 W 63rd St or 63rd & Halsted). Here there is a seminar for home energy assistance programs, LIHEAP, and other cost saving measures from ComEd, People's Gas, or CEDA representatives. Refer to flyer below for more details.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tribune: Chicago to sell 306 more lots for $1

I first caught wind of this program when it was first unveiled in the Englewood neighborhood. Now finally this program has expanded to the Roseland & Pullman communities.
Chicago's Large Lots program, in which city residents can apply to buy designated vacant lots in their neighborhoods for $1, is expanding to the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday.

Applications for 286 lots in Roseland and 20 lots in Pullman will be accepted, beginning Tuesday through Oct. 31.

The Large Lots Program is open to individuals and nonprofits (like block clubs) that own property on the same block as city-owned vacant residential lots. The city determines which lots to put up for sale after seeking input from neighbors and aldermen.

Buyers must agree to maintain the lot and pay property taxes, which typically run a few hundred dollars a year. If the lot is not adjacent to the buyer's property, it must be fenced, which helps deter criminals. Buyers must hold the land for at least five years before they can sell it.
If you want more information on this program visit

Another iteration of the Clout Wiki

Sometime before the 2011 municipal elections an earlier iteration of the Clout Wiki was shared on the 1n73rw3bs to the delight of Chicago political geeks such as myself. For many years, it was online with no updates other than the current officer holders when it was first published then eventually went offline.

Our friends at Aldertrack has unveiled a new version with the current players of Chicago politics especially those elected this year. Here's hoping they will continue to update for years go come.

In addition they have some changes to make such as 21st ward Ald. Howard Brookins is no longer chairman of the City Council Black Caucus. That distinction now goes to 6th ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer. Just one example amongst many to be sure.

Now I wonder who ran the earlier Clout Wiki!

UPDATE: The earlier version of the Clout Wiki was produced by Aldertrack's Mike Fourcher who conversely is also responsible for the current iteration of it. As per the comment you see below.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Open House & Shred Day

Via the office of State Representative Elgie Sims on Sept. 19, 2015.
  • Join State Representative Elgie R. Sims, Jr. along with State Senator Donne E. Trotter and Cook County Stanley Moore for the annual Community Shred Day and Open House!

    Saturday, September 19, 2015
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    8658 S. Cottage Grove, Suite 404
    Chicago, IL 60619.

    Help protect yourself from identity theft by safely disposing of documents. Flu shots available. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at our office at (773) 783-8800.
Don't forget about the Purnell Silas College Expo that is also being held next Saturday. Flyer for the district shred day and open house is below.

Silas Purnell College Expo

Coming on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at Tuley Park at 90th & King Drive. One place where our young people can decide where they may choose to further their education. This is an annual event hosted by the Chesterfield Community Council. It's something we don't often advertise enough, but is very important.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gerald Levert of the Ojays at Whitney Young Library TONIGHT!

Sorry for this last minute post, but I was literally at the Whitney Young Library, 7901 S. King Drive, just a few minutes ago. Gerald Levert of the Ojays will be at the library tonight at 6pm for a book signing of I Got Your Back..

I saw the signs, as well as informed by library personnel, that Gerald Levert of the Ojays would be at the Library THIS evening at 6pm for a book signing.

This event was just scheduled yesterday, so they staff had little time to publicize it. (It's not even on the Chicago Public Library main website!)

If anyone can go, please take photos. We would be happy to post them.

Again, apologies for the lack of details...I just found out about it, but need to run off. Hope someone can make it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tribune: First look inside Theaster Gates' new Stony Island Arts Bank

Stony Island Arts Bank 68th & Stony Island by Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune
One of the cultural things that I would like to see more of in our communities. How many of us would support such a project and when it's done come visit?
The last time Theaster Gates walked me through the abandoned bank at East 68th Street and South Stony Island Avenue, water dripped from the ceiling, clouds wafted over a hole in the roof, and shards of glass and scraps of plaster crunched under his feet.

The 42-year-old Chicago artist will debut his $4.5 million renovation of the bank — which he has transformed into a library and cultural center — on Oct. 3, the opening day of the city's first architectural biennial.

That the city's cultural elite will be drawn about 9 miles south of the Loop into a building once scheduled for demolition speaks to Gates' lofty position in the contemporary art world.

It also speaks to his commitment to the South Side, even as Manhattan and Europe frequently draw him away, as well as his skill at requisitioning everything from record collections to patrons' money. Playwright Regina Taylor once aptly summed up Gates' demeanor in the Chicago Reader as that of "a soulful Cheshire Cat."

"I was really determined to see this project happen," Gates said in a phone interview from Istanbul, where he was preparing for that city's contemporary art biennial. "For people in my life who respect the work I do and understand the work, everyone around me had anxiety about its scale. And the friendly advice I got from everybody was to walk away."
Read the whole thing!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day

Unfortunately, this is the unofficial last day of summer and I can't believe it went by so quick. Well now we have next summer to look forward to as the weather changes and eventually time will go back an hour in the near future.

BTW, I want to ask I've decided that it's time to update any possible events on our calendar. It might be time to start a new system where people can add dates. That being said send an e-mail to blog @ if you want to share any future events and we will be sure to pass the word.

I sincerely hope you all have a safe and happy Labor Day. Hopefully those grills are ready to go for one last time this summer.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

An Unpleasant but Necessary Conversation: High Rise Apartment Buildings in Chatham

Photo from Worlee Glover
When you speak of high rise apartment buildings in Chatham the conversation ends abruptly. Many will tell you that there are zoning laws that do not permit high rises. Some base there answer on past events as when CHA wanted to build high rises on land that includes the 87th Cottage mall and Chatham Co-ops in the 50's and were denied. Others base their answer that past residential zoning ordinances had restrictions on height. The fact is that many of these restrictions have been relaxed over the years to allow projects in the best interest of the community to move forward(i.e. Senior building next to Pirie).

While there are still some zoning restrictions for some areas, the restrictions do not include the entire community. The conversation is not new as developers have made proposals in the past but none were warmly received and did not move forward.

The conversation is necessary because current trends indicate that young professionals are not as interested in single family homes as they were in the 70-90s. Today young professionals 21-40 place a higher value on "walkable communities" with amenties such as parks, shopping, restaurants, etc. They are less likely to own vehicles but rather use ride sharing, car sharing, taxi and public transportation. They also are attracted to "on demand" services such as food delivery, dry cleaning/laundry, maid service, etc.

While we do not have the desired amenities at this point but we can make the community more attractive to some of these businesses by increasing the target demographic and if you want to take it there YES , gentrifying the community. A recent review of high rise buildings revealed that businesses are aggressively marketing to these buildings and residents by offering onsite free classes, cocktail parties, BBQ's, etc.

While there are many positives there are some negatives. Primarily they are developers and density. In the past there were questions concerning the developers and in other cases the project would have been too dense for the area in which it was proposed. Finding the right developer who is interested in developing a MARKET RATE project that will fit the landscape of the community will be a challenge but not an impossibility.

Overall, not having the conversation limits the community's ability to grow and prosper. It is everyone's desire to see a new mix of businesses along our business strips and frankly move out some undesirable events that are happening (loitering, criminality, etc).

So let's start the conversation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chicagoist: Meet The Man Who Refused To Shake Rahm's Hand

Wow, people really don't like Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Indeed in spite of this he got re-elected in the April run-off. Via Chicagoist:
There was no shortage of protestors at Monday night's public city budget meeting but this video of a man somberly refusing to shake Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hand stood out.

The man who rebuffed Emanuel is Isaac Krantz-Perlman, a special education classroom assistant at Hanson Park Elementary School and a member of the Chicago Teacher's Union, according to In These Times. When Emanuel approached Krantz-Perlman, the teacher said, "I don't want to shake your hand," before quickly looking down at his phone.

"I think every time he walks around shaking the hands of the people whose lives he is intentionally trying to ruin, he is wondering how soon he can wash the working-class sweat and grease off his hands," Krantz-Perlman said to In These Times. "He was probably happy he had one less person's hand to shake."
And yes there's more, the Mayor is still having these problems:
Love him or hate him, these pictures are reflective of the serious issues Emanuel is facing. Since he won his difficult reelection battle on April 7, the political landscape has forced him "onto the political equivalent of a desert island" the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman wrote in July. His troubles are plentiful, his allies are scarce and his uphill battle is steep and lonely, according to Spielman.

The double-downgrade by Moody's to a junk bond rating, the city pension fund crisis, the fight over hundreds of millions in CPS budget cuts, the state budget crisis and the Barbara Byrd-Bennett scandal might all be much more than he bargained for heading into his second term.

Joe Zekas R.I.P.

 Joe Zekas ran the real estate news website YoChicago . If you have been following that site and their social media channels i.e. YouTube o...