Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rendering of Future Harper Theater and Herald Building Renovation

posted by chicago pop

On a gray winter stretch of December, this rendering of what we can expect at 53rd and Harper is a pleasant reminder of what Chicago streetlife can be like in the summer, and hopefully will be again soon at this location. Hat tip to HPP reader SS for the link at The Architect's Newspaper.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lab School, Shoesmith Elementary, and Educational Inequality

posted by chicago pop

A couple of weeks ago the amazing blog CPS Obsessed touched on a topic dear to us all but not much covered at HPP: education. Specifically, public education, the free kind, the stuff that is supposed to come with taxes and an address here in the neighborhood. I'll get straight to the remark that got me thinking:
#50. UC Lab gets a $5 million donation from an alum to build a new arts wing. Yes, Lab is an amazing school, I’m sure, and yes, they do offer some scholarships, but, but, but. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Shoesmith received a $5 million donation? Or heck, even $500,000? I wonder what the arts program at the average CPS school is like in Hyde Park? The rich get richer…
As some of you may know (or maybe not, since when most non-Lab financing Hyde Parkers think of their public elementary school, they think "Ray" or "Murray," note that these schools are halfway decent, and that they therefore will not have to move to the suburbs), there has been a moderate bit of buzz in the northern edge of the hood arising from the selection of a new principal at Shoesmith Elementary in beautiful Kenwood.

An inspiring group of parents from the Shoesmith district have formed a Friends of Shoesmith Elementary group with the aim of supporting the school's new and energetic principal in her efforts to turn the school around. It's a tall order, however. As lovely as are the old mansions and brownstones that surround Shoesmith on every side, the school does not fill to capacity and of necessity takes in children from outside the neighborhood. Scores have improved, but the school is still on probation with the CPS. The enrollment is almost uniformly African-American and low-income. Most of the white middle class parents who live in the district  don't send their kids there. Full disclosure: this includes me.

Meanwhile, as everyone has heard, the Lab School, in addition to its other expansions and projects, has just landed a $5 million grant for a new arts wing.

We seriously thought about enrolling our charge at Shoesmith, did our due diligence, and have done our small bit to help out. We'd love to see it turn around. But I wonder even if all the tall hurdles facing Shoesmith and other inner city public schools could be overcome, would it be possible to overcome one hurdle particular to Hyde Park: the existence of the Lab School and a few other private options like it? Does the Lab school inevitably skim off the cohort that would, all things being equal, attend the local schools and thereby help to correct some of the problems that stem from lack of social and economic diversity? Does the channeling of resources to an elite institution like Lab only deepen the gulf of local educational inequality?

The comment on the above-linked CPS post gets at this. It's part of the broader dynamic city-wide, in which people who have the resources or wherewithal can opt-out of a public system, thereby exacerbating many of the problems that keep public schools in a cycle of under performance. 

Another very candid comment laid out the situation in Shoesmith's district as it breaks down along class and racial lines:
#58 .There is a huge money gap in the Shoesmith area. there is a significant number of people who are very wealty, a significant number who live on the edges of the Shoesmith area that are low income/in subsidized housing, and a small number of middle/upper middle class families.

In my opinion, the vast majority very rich probably wouldn’t consider Shoesmith, even if it was a great CPS school b/c they are Lab/Ancona/Latin/Parker families.

The low income families have no other choice by Shoesmith and don’t have the connections/political weight/etc.. to make Nettlehorst happen.

The middle/upper middle class families (of which I’m one) could be the difference makers in turning Shoesmith but the questons for them, is seems to me, are (1) are there enough of them to make a difference at the school, (2) is the school going to be responsive, (3) is it worth the risk for their kids, (4) do any of them have the Nettlehorst-type connections, (5) and is it worth the effort knowing you’ll have to do it all over again for middle school b/c Canter MS is not a good option?

Not long ago, I had to think through these issues about Shoesmith, and decided it was better for my family to do the CPS magnet/RGC/classical lottery, or pay for Catholic school because Shoesmith seemed too much of a risk.

I still wonder what it would be like to try & make it appealing to the neighborhood, wonder if I made the wrong deicision and should have fought for Shoesmith instead of finding another school outside our neighborhood, and can’t tell you how many of my neighors who made the same decision I did say how they wish we could have our kids all the same school, right down the street.
Painful truths. As with retail, safety, sustainability, and so much else, it all comes down to head count. Are there enough middle class families and children in the district to turn Shoesmith around? In raw numbers, perhaps, but how many of them will inevitably be drawn to Lab? How much larger would the local population therefore have to be for Shoesmith to reliably enroll a racially and socioeconomically diverse student body within its own district boundaries?

As one of our  neighborhood's preeminent educational institutions lands a multi-million dollar windfall, while another struggles to fill its classrooms with local kids, these are questions worth pondering.

The 'Academics of Real Estate': Harper Court in the Wall Street Journal

posted by chicago pop

[You may have noticed that I've been on a little bit of a hiatus from blogging lately, but  a number of kind readers have encouraged me to quit loafing and get into my sweatpants (as one is clothed when blogging, by definition). Yes, there is still stuff going on in this fine neighborhood, a lot of it promising, such as what follows. And if you really think something should be up on this space, let me know: sending me stuff is the best way to get an issue broadcast. Because I'm lazy.]

Old news, yes, but worth excerpting: this good summary of Harper Court from the Wall Street Journal (paywall), which highlights the fact that this $134 million project is exceptional for being a major counter-cyclical investment. In the midst of a continued global recession and tight credit in real estate lending nationwide, there is nothing comparable to it on the South Side, and little else in Chicago or equivalent neighborhoods in other metro areas. How is this possible according to the laws of economics?

Why, it's the Chicago School, of course.
In a new bid to revitalize an area just north of its campus, the University of Chicago is subsidizing the mixed-use project, known as Harper Court, through various forms of assistance.
The university is selling land to the developer for $1 million that it bought for about $9 million; it is guaranteeing the $22 million construction loan on the 130-room hotel; and it is leasing the full 150,000 square feet of office space. Further, the city of Chicago is putting in about $20 million in a subsidy that comes from forgone future taxes on the site.
The moves provided the spark for a development that wouldn't have occurred otherwise, in a neighborhood long eschewed by investors. A formal groundbreaking occurred earlier this month at the site in Hyde Park, a neighborhood filled with students, university staff and faculty. By and large, poorer neighborhoods surround it, and large new private developments have been few and far between.
The university has a history in Chicago of steadily expanding its campus with new dorms, labs and classrooms. But that isn't what's behind this foray into the real-estate investment arena. Rather, it is being fueled by a desire to make the area around its campus more attractive to its students and faculty.
"We're not trying to flip these properties for profit," says David Green, executive vice president at the University of Chicago. "We're trying to really help invest in a way to spur development in the area."
Taking the role of both master planner and pioneer investor, universities in economically struggling urban areas have increasingly taken the lead on commercial developments to improve the livability of their neighborhoods.
The Journal points out, as we have on the blog, that other institutions like Penn have pursued similarly aggressive development agendas when it seemed that the market was unwilling to make major bets on the neighborhood. Of course, this entails a risk, but so does the choice to run a top-tier research university in a neighborhood that often only minimally meets basic standards of service and amenities expected by its staff and students.

53rd Street is singled out, to no great surprise, as full of potential but wanting over the last few years.
Harper Court, on 53rd Street, is a historic retail strip, dotted with a hodgepodge of retail outlets, from banks to a mattress store. Its Valois Cafeteria, a classic neighborhood eatery, has occasionally been visited by President Obama upon his returns to Chicago.

But the university has higher aspirations. "It hasn't been a great neighborhood street, or a real destination where there's an interesting mix of shops and services," says Mr. Green.
Elsewhere on 53rd Street, the efforts of the school are aimed at renovating older buildings. Earlier this year, it began renovating an old movie theater, and it leased a storefront it owns to a 24-hour diner.

"You have a real healthy combination of interesting development opportunities and good buildings with interesting space," says Josh Sirefman, a consultant for the university on the revitalization and a former New York City economic development official.
Based on the tall cranes and fencing around the Harper Court lot, and the spiffed up Herald Building now home to Five Guys, so far things look like a good bet. The kind of bet that probably should have been made a long time ago. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Public Meeting on Police Districts 2 and 21 (Hyde Park - Kenwood) Merging -- Ald. Will Burns Presiding

posted by chicago pop

Much of Hyde Park - Kenwood is in the Chicago Police Department's 21st District, pictured above. As a part of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's proposed budget, this district would be one of three citywide that would be consolidated with surrounding districts as a cost-saving measure. The rationale for this, in the case of Hyde Park's 21st District,  is the fact that because of the relatively low number of 911 calls originating in the lakefront area, it is considered to be low crime and not in need of a dedicated district office and staff. The proposal therefore calls for the 21st to be merged with the neighboring 2nd (Wentworth, pictured below) that includes the area west of Cottage Grove to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Based on discussion at a recent 21st District CAPS meeting, CPD representatives made it clear that if this consolidation goes through, police manpower will go where the 911 calls are. This is predominantly west of Cottage Grove. As a result, response time to 911 calls from Hyde Park - Kenwood could lengthen. If Hyde Park - Kenwood is as safe as this scenario assumes, then all is well, and the University of Chicago police should be able to pick up the slack. Or, if this is not the case, or if local crime takes the form of isolated sprees by individuals or groups, then these sprees could run longer, cause more damage, tax the U of C's police force, and aggravate the neighborhood's reputation as 'unsafe'.

CBS Chicago sums it up:

The Prairie District station at 300 E. 29th St. dates from 1952. It serves an oddly-shaped precinct, extending north of Cermak Road and west to the Penn Central railroad tracks to include Chinatown and parts of Bronzeville, then proceeding south down the lakefront east of Cottage Grove Avenue.

At its southern edge, the district borders include the entire Hyde Park neighborhood except for Jackson Park, and extend south to 61st Street between Cottage Grove and Dorchester avenues so as to include the entire U of C campus.

The U of C also has its own private police department, which patrols even farther south into the neighboring Grand Crossing District.

But the Chicago Sun-Times recently pointed out that the nearly 60-year-old station could be merged with the Wentworth District to the west, given that its resources are no longer dominated by crime in the now-demolished Robert Taylor and Stateway Gardens public housing high-rises along the State Street corridor.

Yet, while crime in Hyde Park and around the U of C campus is vastly lower than in many nearby neighborhoods, security is still a concern.

If you have any questions or concerns about this little-publicized bureaucratic reform, there is a public meeting on the issue with 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns tomorrow night at:

4935 S. Dorchester
St. Paul the Redeemer Church
Subject: Consolidation of the 21st and 2nd Police Districts

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Stuff Happening: Earl Shapiro Hall

posted by richard gill

After years of development inactivity, Hyde Park seems to be up and moving.  One big project getting under way is Earl Shapiro Hall, which will house the new Early Childhood Center of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  The start of construction is imminent; the Center is scheduled to open in the Autumn of 2013.

On September 17, on the site at 5800 So. Stony Island Ave., an enormous outdoor party celebrated the groundbreaking. People were issued hardhats and chrome-plated shovels for groundbreaking photos in front of construction equipment.  There were plastic shovels and pails that children used for "excavation," music and balloons and even a Lego construction game.  The food was for all generations—tacos, chicken, veggies, gourmet sliders, hot pretzels, sno-cones, Good Humor bars, popsicles, soft drinks, lemonade, and bulk candy.

For 90 years, the site had been occupied by Illinois Central Hospital, one of two medical facilities that the railroad had operated for its employees as well as the public.  In recent decades, the building had changed ownership and names and finally closed.  It was razed in early 2011 to make way for the school.  It's good to see good stuff happening in the neighborhood.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Will a Redistricted 5th Ward Include Hyde Park?

posted by richard gill

Chicago’s ward boundary lines are being redrawn, and the 5th Ward may no longer include any part of Hyde Park. Would that it were so. Hyde Park Progress has long been critical of 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, and we supported another candidate, Anne Marie Miles, in the February 2011 Aldermanic election. Miles lost. Hairston won and will be 5th Ward Alderman for at least another four years. That’s unfortunate. A perusal of this blog’s posts over the past couple of years will detail our beefs with Leslie Hairston. For one thing, small interest groups easily intimidate her, and she won’t take a position if she senses the smallest amount of discord.

Hyde Park is largely divided between the 4th and 5th Wards. The line runs along 55th Street, Lake Park Avenue, and 53rd Street. The redistricting may, or may not, put all or more of Hyde Park in the 4th Ward (Ald. Will Burns), the 20th (Ald. Willie Cochran), the 7th (Ald. Sandi Jackson), or 3rd (Ald. Pat Dowell). Any of these four Aldermen hold promise be an improvement, if for no other reasons than that they seem inclined to get things done, and confront buffeting winds when necessary.

The remap process, of course, is a contest of self-interest among the 50 Aldermen. Beyond the legal requirements of contiguity within wards and substantially equal populations among wards, the boundary lines are allowed to wiggle and twist, so that wards can acquire all manner of bizarre arms and tentacles. Take a look at the current Chicago ward map at www.cityofchicago.org and click on Chicago Government.

The new boundaries won’t take effect immediately, but it’s likely the incumbents will run again. It’s not too hard to believe that future Aldermen representing Hyde Park will have drawn the short straw. Hyde Park is known to exhibit all manner of silliness, obstructionism, hysteria and outright craziness over all matters big and small. Among the Aldermen themselves, the question may be: do they want us?

Beware the Maroon Candyman! RedEye's Take on HP Media

posted by chicago pop

HPP comentator and neighborhood blogger for the Tribune's RedEye website Melissa Conway gives her humorous take on the Hyde Park media situation - such as it is - in this little piece. (Not that we're a news organization or anything, or even track anything very regularly; we just have something to say once in a while):

First, there’s the local neighborhood paper, the Hyde Park Herald. It’s been around forever – no for real, since 1882 they say – and occasionally, their viewpoint seems stuck there. While it’s relatively informative about what’s going on in the neighborhood, I also sense a decidedly doomsday undercurrent whenever it comes to any new development or redevelopment in the neighborhood. This is reflective of a fear shared by many long-time Hyde Parkers – this sense of not wanting the neighborhood to evolve past anything they’ve already known it to be.

When I’m looking for an alternative perspective on the development going on in the neighborhood, I turn to a blog called Hyde Park Progress... The recent purchase of Borders by U of C is a current topic on the site It seems that whenever the University purchases property in Hyde Park, there is a fear in the air that warns, “Beward the Maroon candyman! He is only here to steal your property, and turn it into office buildings that will only benefit them, and not the community!” 

Check out RedEye's dedicated Hyde Park blog for snippets of lifestyle and current events. Another source on the hood.

[Image source: http://neighborhoods.redeyechicago.com/hyde-park/2011/07/29/news-to-me/ ]

Friday, July 22, 2011

U of C Buys Borders Building on 53rd: Possible Trader Joe's Location?

posted by chicago pop

Some time back we had heard rumors about the University buying the Border's building at 53rd and Lake Park if it ever became available. To this was coupled a related rumor that Trader Joe's might be interested in that particular location, if it ever became available.

Well, it has now become available, through one of the most spectacular, non-corruption-induced corporate collapses in recent memory, and as a result, the first rumor has become fact. The U of C now owns the old Border's building. Selling price for the building has not been disclosed, and no possible tenants have been mentioned.

So the big question is, will the second rumor come true? It seems pretty clear what 'the street' in Hyde Park would prefer. Is there room on the south side for another TJ's following the new store on Roosevelt Road?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Only Jerks Ride Their Bikes on the Sidewalk

The video PSA is meant for New Yorkers, but applies to Chicago and to Hyde Park as well, where any number of adult douchebags do this.

Note: it's against the law. Further note: when you do this, in addition to being a blatant douchebag, you are a hazard to pedestrians -- especially small children. So your fear is not an excuse. Don't like the road? Get off and walk it.

Further note: These people need to be ticketed. In some cases, they should (and can be) arrested. The last 4th Ward Alderman agreed, but pointed out that the way to make it happen was to raise the subject at a CAPS meeting. I'll see you there.

Furthest note: got video of a douchebag like this in HP? Send it to me.

-posted by chicago pop

U of C Public Planning/Zoning Meeting Tonight

posted by Elizabeth Fama

This evening the U of C is holding a public meeting at the International House, 1414 East 59th Street, at 6 PM.

From a U of C official:

The University as a whole is in a planned development zone, and is working with the city right now to update the zone. As part of that process there will be public hearings. Some of the issues that come up have to do with height of buildings, what is in the zone (the University has acquired property since the zone was last formed), etc. The city has requirements for which neighbors should be notified about any planned changes — essentially all residents within 250 feet of the zone perimeter. That group received a letter. In addition, we have done some stories about this to be sure it is much more public.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday on 53rd St: The Flirty Cupcake Van

Whilst making our market rounds this Saturday afternoon, imagine our surprise when, directly before Rajun Cajun, steps from the meditative fiberglass Red Man, and across the street from the ever-scaffolded Herald Building, we chanced upon - Lo! - a cupcake van.

Yes, that's right. A cupcake van.

No sooner had we paused to consult the banner of cupcake offerings, both wondrous and manifold, than a line formed behind us. The treats are not cheap, but lovers of cupcakes have come to expect a premium for such imaginative toppings as bannana-strawberry cream and pineapple rum cakes. You may also be struck by the advanced design of the cupcake packaging, surely the most damage-proof and user friendly cupcake packaging yet devised.

And they come to you. A winning strategy: behold the hunger for mid-afternoon cupcakes on a Saturday afternoon.


The van is run by Flirty Cupcakes, a caterer operating out of the West Side, but fully mobile, and with scheduled stops all over Chicago-Land, including the 1500 E. block of 53rd Street on Saturdays from 3 o'clock onward. (Their van is tracked on Flirty's Facebook page).

Try them and come back to let us know what you think.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Citizen Outcry over CPD Absence during Memorial Day Chaos

posted by chicago pop

From the local news aggregator Everyblock Chicago, a string of commentary following the Memorial Day murder at the 57th and LSD pedestrian underpass. A common theme: absence of the Chicago Police Department until well after the posted hour for park closing; the presence, among large numbers of peaceful park users, of roving gangs of aggressive young males; reckless driving near the lakefront. All ongoing for several hours with no visible law enforcement presence to act as a deterrent or punish violations.

In contrast to the attention lavished on the relatively minor 'flash mob' incidents along the Magnificent Mile - by the media, the CPD, and even the Mayor of Chicago - this incident has dropped off the headlines. The CPD did, however, stage a public 'roll call' several days afterwards - long after the killers had disappeard, and when the Point was mostly empty of the people who use it.

Read the open letter from one Ms. "Laura Hussein" (and following discussion at Everyblock, some of which is excerpted here). All of the communications below were made public by their author:

Dear friends: Here is a copy of the letter I sent to the Univ Chi Police, 5th ward alderman, Mayor and Toni Preckwinkle. Please feel free to use this, edit this, and pass on to people who can help!
Dear Ms. Hairston,
We are very saddened to learn of the death of Aeyanuna Rogers, a 22 year old Northern Illinois University graduate, who was shot and killed on the pathway between the Point and the 57th street Beach at 11pm 5/30/2011, Memorial Day evening. We understand a 17 year old boy was shot in the leg and wounded near the restrooms of the 57th street beach.
I see that the Chicago Park district states that the Beach closes at 7pm, and Promontory Point park closes at 9pm, yet last night thousands of people were at the Point and the Beach well past these times.
For the past two years, since the opening of the Bar Louie restaurant, and particularly with the closing of the Shoreland Dormitory, we here in East View, 5490, The Park Shore, The Flamingo, and 5500 S South Shore Drive have witnessed a dramatic surge in large numbers of people coming to this area on warm days and evenings. People come to enjoy Promontory Point, the 57th Street Beach, and Bar Louie. However, after 3pm and extending until sunrise on warm days and nights, people also sit in parked cars and there are drug deals and acts of prostitution.
We know the University and CIty Police Departments are well aware of the correlation between the first warm days and a sharp spike in crime. For this reason it was shocking that as thousands of people came to this area on 5/30/11, we saw very little police presence from the CPD and the UCPD.
It's hard to understand how so much manpower and effort could be made at one Beach location (North Beach), while the 57th street Beach did not even have a car patrol or bike police visible for most of the afternoon and evening, until well after 10pm.
We're very concerned that without a significant effort made toward 'peace-keeping' policing by both the CPD and UCPD, this will be just the beginning of a great deal of violence this summer.
After two years of very explicit concerns relayed, and now this death and additional shooting, we hope we can count on Police presence on friday, saturday and sunday evenings, and holidays, at a bare minimum?
I am also sending a letter to the Chicago Police Department for our precinct, and Robert Mason, head of Safety and Security for the University Police, as well as Board County President Toni Preckwinkle, and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
Laura 'Hussein'

Below I have copied my correspondence on this activity to the University Police from a year ago:
-----Original Message-----
From: Laura
Sent: Monday, May 24, 2010 12:11 PM
Subject: Car and pedestrian traffic creating potential accidents at 55th and South Shore drive.
Dear Mr. Nimrocks-
I am a resident of S. South Shore Drive in east Hyde Park, 60615.
I am writing to bring to your attention the situation at 55th and South Shore Drive. With the arrival of warm weather we've seen an increase of people enjoying the park and the beach near 55th and South Shore drive. While this is expected, in past years due to the presence of the University's Shoreland Dormitory, we could count on a police presence on evenings and weekends, when pedestrian and car traffic peak.
My husband, neighbors, doormen, and I were very concerned yesterday however, to see more cars and people than we've ever seen in 6 years of living here, with no police presence until 10:30pm after complaints were phoned in.
My concerns are primarily about the sheer number of people, the number of cars and the chaos of the traffic when there are no police presence, and the inevitable safety risks that may follow.
From 2pm onward yesterday the car traffic was such that cars were speeding from 3 directions, trying to proceed north on south shore, while cars coming from the north turing right and left onto 55th were speeding through the stop sign without slowing down. We saw many pedestrians/bikers trying to cross through the cross walk with cars flowing through the cross walk 3 abreast, competing for a spot in the narrow lane with complete disregard for pedestrians and other vehicles.
By 9pm we noticed that the car traffic was still as busy and dangerously chaotic, and in addition there were approximately 300 people lining South SHore drive, sitting on the tops of parked vehicles, sitting on the chain-link fence of 5490, standing in and around the parked cars, while traffic continued to present safety risks. In addition, there were approximately 200 more people in the grass and closer to the under pass leading to the Point.
The majority of the people were calm individuals enjoying the warm night, but there were also large groups of young adult males who appeared dressed in street-gang type roaming up and down the street, calling out to and harassing pedestrians and people in cars. There were doubled parked vehicles with loud music and people entering and exiting these stopped vehicles, which were blocking the flow of traffic until it was at a stand-still most of the night from 9-10:30 when the police arrived.
Our doorman who has worked at this location for a decade noted that he had never seen the crowd as large, chaotic and unruly as he observed last night, 5/23.
Most alarming is that 55th and South shore appears to be a destination in warm weather for more potentially nefarious activity as well, as noted by Mrs. Heather Refetoff last year at this same time. Namely, the area around "the Pointe" at 55th and South Shore appears to be a summer "destination" for drug sale and use, street partying with loud music, food, drink and sexual activity, as evidenced by the empty bottles, used drug paraphernalia, and dirty condoms visible on the street this morning.
I have placed a call with our Alderman, Leslie Harrison, and plan to contact the local CIty of Chicago police dept. as well to make clear our concerns. We are also counting on the University Police dept. to take action as there are many faculty members and graduate students of the University, and countless children of the University of Chicago Lab school, still residing in this area of east Hyde Park.
In the past, Police presence has dramatically reduced the chaos and "scofflaw" patterns of the traffic, and it has also put a damper on the marauding young males and some of the drug and alcohol consumption in and around the parked cars.
We are requesting that you consult with the city, and find a way to ensure the presence of a patrol car near the parking lot at the end of 55th street, and another car at the cul-de-sac where south shore meets Lake Shore Drive, in order to monitor the growing pedestrian and car traffic and diffuse the more illegal activities before this situation presents yet another Hyde Park "crime disaster" such as those that have graced the headlines of the local media over the past few years, further justifying the northside/suburban
perception that the University of Chicago and Hyde Park is a crime-infested neighborhood.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this developing situation, and please let me know if I can assist in any manner.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Heather Refetoff" <hrefetoff@sprynet.com>
To: "Rudy Nimocks" <rend@uchicago.edu>
Cc: "Robert J. Zimmer" ; "Eleanor Coe"
; "Onel, Kenan" ;
"Laura Lambert" ; "Corinne Morrissey"
<6morriss@jmls.edu>; "Diane Lukoff" <diane_lukoff@comcast.net>
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 2008 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: 55th and South Shore

Thank you for your prompt response to my complaint about the street
at 55th and South Shore Dr. May I make the following points, which I hope
will be helpful.
1. The unpleasant activity on the street is not Park related per se, it seems to ebb and flow throughout the year to a greater or lesser degree directly related to the amount of police surveillance. Naturally it is greater in summer because with warm weather people stay on the streets for longer periods; partying in and around parked cars is no doubt uncomfortable
in winter.

2. I have a direct view of the parking lot entrance from where I often
sit in the evening and activity can pick up instantly creating an absolute carousel of cars through the parking lot, which ceases as soon as a squad car turns up.
3. People on the street is not the issue, it is the behavior of some that is the problem, and that element has increased this summer more than in the past ten years that I have lived here. In recent years I worry about  safety when coming home in the evenings to park on the street.

4. I believe that this parking lot and adjacent streets have become a "destination" for the problems I mentioned in my letter to President Zimmer,namely drug sale and use, street partying with loud music, food, drink and sexual activity, as evidenced by the refuse on the street and confirmed by conversations with City police patrolmen. There has also been the
beginnings this summer of some very noisy motorcycle presence. I think the situation needs to be diffused before it presents yet another Hyde Park "crime disaster" such as those that have graced the headlines of the local media this past one or two years, further justifying the
northside/suburban perception that the University of Chicago and Hyde Park is a crime
infested neighborhood.

5. Finally I would again like to mention that despite the summer decrease in the student population of the Shoreland there is a very sizable number of graduate students resident in the Flamingo, we currently have four post docsthere, three single women in the late twenties and one male, (2 Italian, 1 Spanish and 1 German). I would hate to have any one of them become victim
to the current evening and late night activity on their doorstep. May I avail myself of your email to comment further as matters progress?

Heather Refetoff
On 7/26/08 10:34 AM, "Rudy Nimocks" <rend@uchicago.edu> wrote:
Dear Ms Refetoff:
We are aware of the problem and will be working with Commander Doty in order
to devise a long term summer collaborative patrol strategy specifically for that area. You are absolutely on point, we are being victimized by one of our most important community successes, good public safety. This problem is particularly perplexing because we cannot deny access to public streets and recreational areas to anyone, but it is nevertheless a problem we must
seriously address. I promise you we will do precisely that.

Rudy Nimocks
Chief of Police
and Security Services
University of Chicago
and Seurity Security Services

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whole Foods coming to 51st and Lake Park, will anchor 'Village Center' by 2014

From an Antheus Capital press release, May 4, 2011:

Antheus Capital is delighted to announce that Whole Foods has signed a lease to serve as the anchor tenant in our redevelopment of the shopping center in the south west corner of 51st and Lake Park in the Hyde Park community. This lease represents a powerful endorsement of Hyde Park by the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket.

Much work remains to bring this project to fruition but we are gratified by this milestone and appreciative of the significant time and effort invested by former Alderman Preckwinkle and her successors, Alderman Newsome and Alderman Burns, in making this possible. We also acknowledge and appreciate Alderman Leslie Hairston's leadership in improving Hyde Park

The mixed-use project is designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects and includes 179 residential units, 110,000 square feet of retail and office space and two levels of underground parking. Chicago City Council approved the Planned Development in the fall of 2010. The stores and residences are expected to open in 2014.

Also coming to the neighborhood, the Chicago chain of diners, Clarke's. This will be Hyde Park's first 24-hour dining spot. 53rd Street has hit a tipping point. Here's the U of C press release of May 2:

The University of Chicago is bringing Clarke’s restaurant, a 24-hour Chicago-area diner, to 53rd Street in Hyde Park.
The all-night eatery is the latest business to declare its intentions for Hyde Park’s commercial corridor, following announcements this spring of plans for a hotel, a movie theater and another restaurant. Together with the mixed-use development at Harper Court, the new businesses reflect the initiative of the community, the City and the University to promote new vitality along the corridor.
The project, which is slated for completion in 2013, will include 150,000 square feet of office space leased to the University of Chicago, 440 parking spaces and approximately 80,000 square feet of retail space in addition to the hotel.
Scheduled to open later this year, Clarke’s will offer a wide variety of menu choices, including specialty salads, stir-fry dishes, sandwiches and a host of additional breakfast, lunch and dinner items. The restaurant addresses a longstanding interest among students and other community members for more late-night options.
Established in 1986, Clarke’s has existing locations in Lincoln Park, Evanston, Lakeview and Bucktown as well as a new restaurant to soon open in River North.
“We look forward to serving the Hyde Park area as always with quality food and quality customer service,” said Steve Dion, owner of Clarke’s restaurants. “We are also excited about the future plans of development in Hyde Park, and we are eager to be part of it.”
Clarke’s will occupy 4,000 square feet within the 1451 E. 53rd St. building, which the University purchased earlier this month. T-Mobile occupies the remaining space.
University officials announced earlier that later this year, Five Guys restaurant would become the inaugural tenant in the office and theater buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue. The buildings, which the University owns and is currently renovating, also will house The New 400 Theaters, a local movie operator that will showcase art, children’s and wide-release films when it opens in 2012.
“We are continuing to work closely with the community and the City to bring the right mix of restaurants and retail businesses along with entertainment venues to Hyde Park that residents and students have been asking for to help improve the quality of life,” said James Hennessy, Director of Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University.
The University is also partnering with the City and civic leaders to build a mixed-use complex as part of an ambitious redevelopment of the Harper Court property. Last December, Vermilion Development signed an agreement with Smart Hotels to develop a Hyatt Place 130-room hotel in Harper Court, which is slated to become the centerpiece of the complex. Smart Hotels signed the franchise agreement with Hyatt Place.
Officials said additional retail and entertainment announcements are expected within the next few months.
Whoo hoo!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Come to Harold Washington Park Advisory Council Meeting Wed April 27

The Harold Washington Park Advisory Council is recently formed and looking for neighbors who use or care about one of Hyde Park's oldest and most beautiful parks. Come share your ideas and concerns with the Advisory Council as we head into summer 2011!

Harold Washington Park Advisory Council (HWPAC) meeting, Wednesday, April 27, 6:30 pm, Hyde Park Art Center.  All are welcome.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Decorative Tile, Condo Wall at Harper and 57th

posted by chicago pop

Friday, April 15, 2011

Drs Hospital: Preservationists Aren't Crying Over Demolition

 posted by richard gill

Illinois Central Hospital has succumbed to the wrecking ball. Steeped in railroad lore, the 95-year-old building at 5800 South Stony Island Avenue, occupied nearly a city block. After 1973, when the Illinois Central Railroad sold the building, it operated as Hyde Park Community Hospital and Doctors Hospital. Several years ago, it was closed and, as covered extensively in Hyde Park Progress, has been the focus of pain and strife——pain and strife of a brand that Hyde Park often seems to revel in.

As the fate of the building was debated, self-proclaimed preservationists tried in vain to make their case. When some of them suggested saving at least the front semicircular driveway, portico and entrance, it was pointed out that those were additions made in the late 20th Century. Indeed the original entrance was a small stairway and a door Think the hospital entrance in The Godfather, where Michael Corleone and the baker protected Vito Corleone from assassins.

The IC Hospital served the public and was free to the railroad’s employees. If you worked anywhere on the railroad from Cairo, Illinois (pron. Karrow) north, you used the IC Hospital in Chicago. South of Cairo, you went to the IC’s southern hospital, which was either in Jackson, Mississippi or Memphis, Tennessee. Chicago headquarters notwithstanding, the IC was at heart a southern company. Even in the Chicago offices, there was plenty of drawling and ya’lling, not to mention the twanging that sprang forth from the Iowa Division.

I will remember the hospital fondly, except of course for the lower GI portion of the compulsory annual physical. Administered without sedation, the exam was conducted with a now-little-used rigid instrument called a Proctoscope. It was about a foot long, the size of a piccolo, but in railroad mythology had the dimensions of a Louisville Slugger.

So, farewell, old temple of medicine. You did not pass quietly into the night, but your absence will do Hyde Park the favor of having one less thing over which to Proctoscope itself.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hyatt Hotel Coming to Harper Court

posted by chicago pop

The symbol of the University of Chicago is, being situated in a city famous for having once burnt to the ground, a phoenix. The symbolism remains vital, as the hotel that Hyde Park almost got in the 5th Ward on Stony Island and 58th Street will now be resurrected and take shape on the site of the old Harper Court, on Harper at 52nd.

The 53rd Street renaissance continues at a dizzying pace.

From Curbed Chicago:

Harper Court Partners released some details this morning about the hotel operator for Hyde Park's Harper Court. Olympia Chicago LLC and Smart Hotels, a company that specializes in campus hotels, have been selected to build and operate Hyatt Place Chicago @ Hyde Park. The six-story, 130-room hotel will be located on Harper, just north of 52nd Place, according to Christopher Dillion from Vermilion Development. The hotel, which is set to open in 2013, will feature underground parking, a restaurant, wine bar, pool, and fitness facilities....

From Crain's Chicago Business:

“A quality hotel has been a longstanding need for the community,” Dave Cocagne, president of Chicago-based Vermilion, says in the statement. “It will play a key role in the development of the 53rd Street corridor.”

Financing for the hotel is being provided by Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to be issued by the Illinois Finance Authority. Smart specializes in campus hotels, though no properties are identified on the company’s website, while Olympia operates 16 hotels, according to Vermilion’s press release.

Vermilion tapped the Smart Hotels-Olympia venture after issuing a request for proposals from hoteliers last fall.

Mr. Cocagne in January said Vermilion had letters of intent for 60% of the project’s roughly 80,000 square feet of retail space. The first phase, which has a roughly $100-million budget, is to include the hotel, retail and a 150,000-square-foot office building to be used at least partially by the university.

And, from the developers themselves:

Smart Hotels/Olympia Chicago LLC has been selected to build and operate the hotel, planned for Harper Avenue, just north of 53rd Street. Plans call for the LEED-designed hotel to have approximately 130 rooms, [and be] a destination on evenings and weekends, as well as during the work week.

Ed Small, President of Smart Hotels, said his team looks forward to presenting the preliminary hotel design to the community in March.

"This is an outstanding opportunity for us to bring a quality, environmentally-friendly hotel to Hyde Park," Small said. "The University, the City, IFA and MB Financial did extraordinary work to help us secure the project financing."

Hyatt Place Chicago @ Hyde Park is scheduled to open in 2013, to coincide with Phase I of the Harper Court redevelopment, which will also include retail, office, and outdoor spaces. Chicago-based LEgat Architects has been engaged to design the hotel.

The Olympia Companies has been in operation since 1969 and currently operates 16 hotel properties.

"We are excited to extent our portfolio of hotels to such a dynamic community and world-class university," said Kevin Mahaney, President and CEO of The Olympia Companies.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Five–Screen Movie Theater Coming to 53rd Street

posted by chicago pop

Well how about that. Sorry, all you 5th Ward Hairston voters, but the 4th Ward is really where it's at. We won't object to you coming north to spend your money.

From the University of Chicago:

The University of Chicago plans to bring The New 400 Theaters, an independent movie operator that will offer a mix of art, children’s and wide–release films, in the soon–to–be renovated buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

Officials said the 10,149–square–foot theater plan includes five screens with state–of–the–art digital projection. One screening room will have tables placed between the seats for future lunch and dinner options.

The New 400 Theaters plans to discount tickets for students, seniors and children. General–admission seating will be below market prices, said theater officials.

“We believe students, faculty, staff and our neighbors will be very excited about having a new movie theater within walking distance,” said Kimberly Goff–Crews, Vice President for Campus Life. “As we talk to members of our community about how to enhance campus life, this is one of the ideas that comes up frequently.”

The agreement with The New 400 Theaters is part of a broader effort to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor as a focus of commercial, retail and entertainment activity.

Last month, the University unveiled plans to begin a major renovation of the commercial and theater buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, which are currently vacant. Five Guys restaurant, scheduled to open by year’s end, will be the first tenant. Additional tenants will be announced in the upcoming months. The University is also partnering with the City and community leaders to lead an ambitious redevelopment of the adjacent Harper Court property as a mixed–use complex.

“The theater, along with other strategic revitalization efforts, will bring added value to the area. It is one more piece of our ongoing conversations with the City and the neighborhood to build Hyde Park as a key destination on the South Side of Chicago,” said Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement.

The New 400 Theaters opened its first venue in Rogers Park in July 2009. That site, built in 1912 near Loyola University and formerly known as Village North, is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country. Tony Fox, owner and operator of The New 400 Theaters, said the Hyde Park location was ideal due to its close proximity to the campus and the overall commitment from the community to upkeep its neighborhood.

“We are proud to bring our theater to Hyde Park, a place where people really care about their community,” said Fox. “My passion is community service, and we hope to continue in the same tradition as we have done in Rogers Park — to bring safe, reliable and sound entertainment to the area.”

Fox said his business partner, Tom Klein, will serve as general manager in Hyde Park. Klein is also the general manager for The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park. He said they are interested in talking with Doc Films, the University student group that screens diverse films each quarter for students, faculty, staff and the community, to see if there are potential partnerships that could work in the new theater model.

The movie theater has a targeted opening date of fall 2012.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

South Side Politics is About to Change Big Time

posted by chicago pop

Redistricting is coming up in post-election 2011. While that normally entails some politically-motivated jiggling with the Chicago ward boundaries, given the 2010 census numbers showing dramatic reductions in the city's African-American population, it will directly affect the number of wards that currently exist on the South Side.

Greg Hinz of Chicago Business lays it out:

Huge areas of the city – particularly on the South Side –are dramatically under-populated. Such areas will have fewer aldermen under the one-man, one-vote rule.

The lowest is Alderman Pat Dowell’s mid-South Side 3rd Ward, now home to just 40,506 people – barely half of Mr. Reilly’s 42nd. Closely trailing is Alderman Tony Beale’s 9th Ward, with 43,530 residents.


Four other wards have fewer than 47,000 people each. Those are the 5th, with 46,263; the 7th, at 46,582; the 16th, with 45,955, and the 17th, with 45,993. They are represented by Leslie Hairston, Sandi Jackson, JoAnn Thompson and Latasha Thomas, respectively [italics added].

Since each new ward will have to have around 54,000 residents, at least one of the above wards is going to have to go or gobble loads of people from its neighbors. And most nearby South Side wards are way off, too – just not as much.

So there is going to be some major sorting of voters going on and Hyde Park-Kenwood-Woodlawn-South Shore will be right in the middle of it. The 5th Ward could disappear entirely.

How will this play for Hyde Park politics? Chances are it will make it harder than ever before for the neighborhood's tradition of "independent" politics -- detailed so well in Rebecca Janowitz's book -- to get translated into action on a city-wide level, as Hyde Park gets swallowed up in an even larger ward unit. Whatever news ward or wards comprise Hyde Park and other South Side neigborhoods will be even more geographically diverse, with all the political challenges that entails.

On the other hand, there is a slight possibility that all of Hyde Park-Kenwood might wind up within the same ward -- as it had been within the 5th Ward for most of the 20th century -- for the first time since it was split in two in 1981 under Mayor Jane Byrne.

That would not be good for Alderman Hairston. But it would be good for Chicago. The question is whether the New Boss would come to view a more powerful Hyde Park neighborhood as most of his predecessors have, i.e., as something to be avoided.

4th Ward to Burns - Yay! 5th Ward to Hairston - Boo!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Results for 4th and 5th Ward Races: Burns and Hairston Leading

posted by chicago pop

Source: Chicago Tribune/Associated Press, accessed 8:20PM

4th Ward Alderman

82% of precincts reporting
Updated 8:12 p.m.
Source: Associated Press

Candidate Votes Pct.
Burns 7,032 64.8%
Bolden 1,032 9.5%
Yokoyama 1,014 9.3%
Scott 754 6.9%
Rumsey 531 4.9%
Miguest 331 3.1%
Williams 156 1.4%

5th Ward Alderman

78% of precincts reporting
Updated 8:12 p.m.
Source: Associated Press
Candidate Votes Pct.
Hairston 5,485 61.5%
Miles 1,989 22.3%
Ross 594 6.7%
Hightower Chalmers 488 5.5%
Tankersley 360 4.0%

Monday, February 21, 2011

5th Ward: Vote for Anne Marie Miles

[This was originally posted as "A Worthy 5th Ward Challenger: Anne Marie Miles" on November 24, 2010]

posted by chicago pop

Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston has been parked in the same political spot for a while now. Unfortunately, the meter has expired, but her car is still there. It's time to call the tow truck. Other people would like to park there.

As of this past Monday's filing deadline, 9 candidates have received the call from dispatch, and are currently on the ballot to take Leslie Hairston's parking spot at the job she has held, with very little to show for it, since 1999.

We think this crowded field is a good thing. The factors that have contributed to stasis on the City Council, and indirectly in the 5th Ward, have slackened considerably in 2010. Chicago city politics, like politics on the national level, are currently wide open and tumultuous.

This does not bode well for status-quo politicians who have preferred to coast on complacency. Hairston is an incumbent in a time of anti-incumbent sentiment. Her bread-and-circuses approach to discretionary spending reveals a lack of long-term vision for the ward. Employment opportunities in the ward, which would have benefited from 200 new jobs had she helped shepherd the Doctors Hospital project, remain scarce. The major city players who have supported her in the past are leaving the picture -- both Mayor Daley and 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle.

There are thus good reasons for challengers to take on the 5th Ward Alderman. On the basis of her record, Leslie Hairston is vulnerable in ways that she was not in any of the previous three elections. Even if more than half the field drops out before the end of the year, the current Alderman will still face at least one qualified opponent worthy of the 5th Ward's historic tradition of independent, visionary politics: Anne Marie Miles.

We had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Anne Marie several weeks ago, and are very pleased that such a strong candidate has officially entered the ring for the February 2011 aldermanic elections. Before too long, we'll be interviewing Anne Marie Miles on HPP to give readers a better sense of who she is and where she comes from.

For now, though, we'll let her speak in her own words.


From an undated letter to the editor shared with HPP:

I am running for Alderman of the Fifth Ward of Chicago, because I believe that the Fifth Ward no longer represents the independent voice of reason that it once was for so many years. Over the last decade that voice has diminished and is now on the brink of extinction.

Bona fide leadership is sorely lacking, while there are many issues in the ward that are not being addressed; constituent services are at the top of that list, especially when voters cannot receive coherent responses to justifiable concerns. Constituents continue to wait for communication on education programs, crime prevention, broken pavements, potholes, gutters and tree limbs.

I became utterly committed to run for alderman, when I learned that in a summer with the highest youth unemployment rates in years, vital ward funds were being used to pay for parking spaces for people who live in the co-ops and condos along the lakefront. How many summer jobs could have been created for Fifth Ward residents with that money -- over $100,000.00 -- in Ward funds -- spent on free parking spaces, most of which were never used.

The priority of the Fifth Ward must be economic revitalization. Concern for community, children and senior citizens must be at the very top of that agenda. Common sense leadership is required in City Council; leaders who are willing to confront issues urgently affecting the city, and who can provide a productive plan for economic development, encouragement for children to graduate from high school, and facilitate increased community program development.

I bring a strong commitment to the Fifth Ward where I have resided and raised a family, since the 1990's. I bring renewed energy and resources, and will relentlessly call upon business leaders, parents, educators and youth program directors, to ensure the revitalization of the historic Fifth Ward community and its place in this great city of Chicago.

From a campaign press release of November 23, 2010:

Anne Marie Miles is an advocate, community activist and a loyal, passionate Fifth Ward supporter. She is involved with parent associations and local community groups focused on improving children's lives and reducing teen violence. Miles is the former Secretary and President of the University of Chicago Comer Hospital Service Committee, and has worked for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services providing free legal services to lower income residents. She is currently on the steering committee of Safe Youth Chicago of the Union League Club of Chicago.

Hairston Fail #4: Taking Credit for Stuff that You Basically Didn't Object To

posted by chicago pop

Above is a reproduction of some of the more humorous campaign literature to emerge from what may be Leslie Hairston's first attempt to really convince voters that she has accomplished something. As nothing seems quite so factual and objective as a map, we are here presented with a color-coded and exhaustive geographical index of stuff that, presumably, would not be included if Leslie Hairston had not been in office. If it has happened since 1999, we are to take it, Leslie made it happen.

For real?

Let's unfold it and take a look.

As far as we can see, wherever a small business, a nonprofit organization, or a private housing project is concerned, the folks deserving the credit are the entrepreneurs, fund-raisers, administrators, developers and businesspeople who came up with the ideas, capital, and elbow grease to make things happen.

Or maybe we are just unaware of Hairston's role as the driving force behind Zaleski and Horvath Market Cafe's opening on 57th Street. (Not mentioned, curiously, is the closure of Hans Morsbach's University Market in the same space -- does she get credit for that, too?) Likewise, Hyde Park Animal Clinic and Maravillas, both long-time Hyde Park businesses, were relocated with the help of the U of C in preparation for the demolition of Harper Court. Hairston claims credit for them as well.

Other interesting claims are "Shoreland Restoration" -- which came quite close to being "Shoreland Abandonment" as a result of Hairston's threat to can the project if MAC didn't cave in to the self-interested demands of a small group of neighbors. The millions of dollars being sunk into restoration of the Del Prado building on Hyde Park Boulevard must also be grace à Leslie Hairston, not MAC Properties.

Best of all is "New Housing F," Solstice on the Park, which Hairston can take credit for simply not blocking. Which of course is all the credit she should get, because it hasn't yet and may never be built.

On it goes, the list of things-not-blocked. The methodology is not terribly precise or transparent. If it exists now and didn't before 1999, it all reflects the glory of Alderman Hairston. If it's gone -- like the Cafe Florian on 57th Street -- it isn't listed; and if it simply changed hands -- as with Cafe 57, formerly Istria, also on 57th Street -- it is also listed. The new LED pylons at the Midway crossings, the Chicago Park District landscaping and pedestrian underpasses at 57th and Lake Shore -- was there any conflict involving these projects that required real leadership? Did the initiative for these originate in the 5th Ward office on 71st Street, or did Hairston just not object when other entities took the initiative?

Not objecting is, of course, the inverse of objecting, and the fact that items can be lined up this way as being a credit to the Alderman for simply having happened, points to the ridiculous concentration of power in the hands of all Chicago Aldermen.

What we do know with more certainty is that, when big projects were on the line in Hairston's 5th Ward, they typically didn't happen. We've outlined how Target Stores -- considered at two separate locations on Stony Island -- didn't happen. You can decide whether PopinNuts Gourmet Popcorn ("New and Reinvested Businesses #21") makes up for that or not. We've also outlined how a modern hotel -- supported by the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago, and much of Hyde Park, and also on Stony Island -- didn't happen.

Likewise, the beautiful pedestrian underpass at Lake Shore Drive and 57th adjoins the collapsing Promontory Point, the current decay of which reflects more realistically on Hairston's leadership than any single retail opening she cares to list.

So about this map you might say, to paraphrase the suggestion offered by Yahoo or Mapquest whenever plotting a route online, "it's a good idea to do a reality check." Before plotting a trip, or casting your vote.

Hairston Fail #3: Leslie's VIP Lot at 63rd St Beach and Other Parking Give-Aways

[This essay was originally posted as "Alderman Hairston's VIP Fireworks Parking" on July 6, 2010]

posted by Elizabeth Fama

57th St. Beach and fireworks, 7/4/2010.

Yesterday the Tribune reported that 5th-Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston reserved the 63rd Street parking lot on July 4th for an "afternoon anti-violence event." She said she distributed the spaces to "local organizations, vendors, and workers." Ordinary people driving to the fireworks were out of luck if they hoped to park there, even if they arrived early for the celebration.

So apparently free parking along the lakefront isn't a right, as Hairston has ballyhooed for more than a year, it's a privilege. I'd really like to know precisely who in her judgment merited permit parking at the beach on the 4th of July.

From the Tribune: "Hairston said....that she modeled the event after the Air and Water Show, where people have to walk to the area and have few parking options."

"'It's a bunch of bull,' said Alex Hall, 39, who arrived early hoping for a parking spot at the beach, where he has been celebrating the holiday since he was a child. 'We should be able to park and have our own Independence Day.'"

So much for Ms. Hairston's claim in April that spaces in the 63rd Street lot should be as accessible as possible to all Chicagoans, regardless of their means (Maroon, April 30, 2010). So much for her insistence that beach parking should be free. So much for her worry that installing meters is what "discourages people from using the parks."

And so much for the City's goal of making the fireworks more accessible and reducing congestion by moving the display from Grant Park to three separate locations along the lakefront.

I guess since Hairston paid an estimated $77,000 out of her discretionary funds to subsidize summer parking at 63rd Street, she figures she can be queen of the lot.

[Editor's note: Alderman Hairston claimed in a letter to the editor of the Hyde Park Herald (December 15, 2010) -- 5 months after the above post was originally written -- that the total subsidy for the lot at 63rd Street Beach was $42,000 rather than $77,000. At present there is no way to verify this claim. See further discussion of this issue here.]

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Anne Marie Miles Receives Support from Local Ministers in Fifth Ward Races

posted by chicago pop

A press release from the Anne Marie Miles campaign:

Disgruntled South Shore Residents Rally around Candidate

CHICAGO – February 19, 2011– Anne Marie Miles, candidate for Fifth Ward Alderman, has been receiving resounding support for her campaign by a number of South Side ministers and South Shore residents resolute in removing incumbent Leslie Hairston from office.

With her campaign office on 71st Street, in the heart of the South Shore neighborhood, Anne Marie Miles has positioned herself as a viable challenger to current alderman Hairston. A recent pastor’s luncheon given in her honor was led by Pastor Martin of Grace and Peace Ministry, Bishop Jakes; Pastor Earnest Franklin; Rev. Dukes; Pastor Elaine Smothers; Pastor V. Johnson; Evangelist Dora Jones; Rev. Larry Johnson; Pastor Shirley Hall and Dr. L. Whatley. The ministers endorsed Anne Marie Miles for Fifth Ward Alderman and prayed for her success.

The support for Miles in the community is so strong that Archbishop Lucius Hall who heads the Broadcast Ministers Alliance of Chicago, invited Miles to be interviewed on his radio and cable TV shows. The cable TV show “Broadcast Minister Alliance Presents” will air four times this weekend on Channel 25 and on WGRB-AM 390.

Those that thought that Miles would not connect with South Shore residents do not understand the Fifth Ward, noted Miles. “To imply that my campaign would not resonate with all voters, including those who live in South Shore, Grand Crossing and Woodlawn, underestimates the intelligence of people who have simply had enough from an alderman whose accomplishments are minimalistic at best.” Miles continued, “South Shore and Hyde Park have a rich history that has been diminished by a career politician whose office is just blocks away from abandoned buildings, empty lots, and one of the hot spots for crime in the city.”

Miles ran a successful Elder Law practice for some twenty years, in which she advocated for the rights of, and improved the conditions of the elderly and incapacitated. Additionally Miles holds a Masters of Public Administration from Long Island College and an LLM in Tax Law from John Marshall law School.

Anne Marie Miles is an advocate and community activist who is involved with parent associations and local community groups focused on improving children’s lives and reducing teen violence. Miles is the former Secretary and President of the University of Chicago Comer Hospital Service Committee, and has worked for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services providing free legal services to lower income residents. She is currently on the steering committee of Safe Youth Chicago of the Union League Club of Chicago.