“Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood: Uptown | Chicago News
Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood is one of the city’s most diverse. It has long housed immigrant and refugee communities.
The area has also long been an entertainment destination, dating back to the 1920s. It is known for the historic Moulin Vert, the Riviera Theater and the Aragon Ballroom.
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This summer, a new gallery opened in the area – above the Green Mill – with a focus on showcasing under-represented artists. He has a new show that opens Friday called “Ways of Seeing”.
“I love art and I love seeing the art of people who look like me and who are able to describe stories that concern me… We are fortunate and privileged here in Chicago to have so many black artists. and gifted and talented brunettes, and just artists in general, ”said Henok Misgina, owner and founder of Uptown Gallery.
Video: Watch our full interview with Henok Misgina
The area is also known for Argyle Street – the place to find Vietnamese food in Chicago. And as of this month, Argyle Street is one of 15 places in the city where Chicago Alfresco has opened.
It is a municipal program designed to give communities more outdoor space for dining, arts, culture and public life. Choose Chicago has approved 15 community applications and is distributing over $ 2 million to help create spaces like Uptown.
Community group Uptown United is using their funds to expand outdoor dining along Argyle.
The co-owner of an Argyle Street cafe called First Sip Cafe says she’s excited about the Alfresco site.
“I think Argyle is a great neighborhood, I don’t think there are enough pedestrians on foot,” said Erin Hoang. “It’s going to be really cool because I think it’s going to encourage people to come here to have dinner al fresco and also just see the neighborhood, walk around, visit the different stores. So I think it will make the neighborhood more alive.
Affordable housing in upscale neighborhoods
Like other Chicago communities, gentrification is an issue of concern to many Uptown residents.
Most recently, the developers planned to build a 314-unit luxury apartment building on the site of a parking lot, currently adjacent to Weiss Hospital at 4600 N. Marine Drive. Rents would range from $ 1,700 for a one-bedroom apartment to $ 3,000 for a larger space, at market rates.
Although it has already been approved by the Chicago Zoning Commission, it has a lot of opposition.
University of Illinois Chicago professors Anna Romina Guevarra and Gayatri Reddy are among those opposing development. They co-founded a project documenting the move to Uptown.
“Less than half of Uptown’s rental units are actually affordable,” Guevarra said. “The number of affordable units in Uptown is down 8.7%, and that’s just between 2012 and 2019. That’s why there is a housing crisis here. Many people and families have been driven from this neighborhood.
Guevarra notes that right in front of where this apartment building would go, there are several homeless settlements.
She and other affordable housing advocates are concerned not only about the lack of affordable housing, but also about the changing face of the neighborhood, if fewer communities of color can afford to live in Uptown.
Senator Mike Simmons represents Uptown, as well as several surrounding neighborhoods. He sees a more widespread problem.
“It’s a phenomenon that we are seeing on the north side,” Simmons said. “We certainly see it in the far north of Chicago, in Uptown, Edgewater, even as far as Rogers Park. It’s really important to make sure we keep the affordable housing we have, and to make sure the neighborhoods remain affordable and accessible for longtime residents and new residents of the neighborhood who aren’t making a lot of money. and can’t afford these prices.
In order to comply with the city’s Affordable Housing Ordinance, eight of the building’s 314 units will meet affordability requirements. At the time the development was approved, the ordinance only required certain new residential developments in Chicago for 2.5% of its units to meet the criteria. It recently increased to 5%. The rent for these affordable units ranges from $ 900 per month for studios to $ 1,100 per month for a 2 bedroom.
Opponents of development say that even if eight units are compliant, it is the bare minimum.
However, Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) supports the plan. He says he’s more concerned about people living 30% or below the poverty line – on the verge of homelessness. The developer of luxury apartment buildings, Lincoln Properties, is giving a local non-profit organization that works with women facing homelessness just over $ 3 million.
“Of that group of tenants, which is the largest group of tenants, where 75% of them experience extreme financial difficulty in meeting their monthly expenses,” Cappleman said. “With the [Affordable Requirements Ordinance]We focus on people earning 60% of the region’s median income. I want housing for people at high risk of living on the streets. I mean, they want a toilet, they want a bed, they want a shower, and we don’t have enough.
Video: Watch our full interview with Ald. James cappleman
While required affordable housing is reserved for people at or below 60% of the region’s median income, Sarah’s Circle – the non-profit organization the developer donates to – supports people at or below 30. % of median income.
Sarah’s Circle says the money has not yet been allocated, but everything the organization does is focused on how to provide permanent housing to women in need.
“We want to think long term in terms of developing permanent housing for people, we have to think short term as we are also dependent on support and donations from government agencies, so $ 3 million goes a long way for Sarah’s Circle. because we’re really smart about it and both long term and short term, ”said Margaret Egan, Sarah’s Circle board member.
Sarah’s Circle provides a number of services at its two current Uptown locations – a third is on its way – to provide temporary housing for homeless women, both in the neighborhood and in the city.
It also has 73 permanent housing units – apartments – for working women who are ready to move into their own accommodation.
They worked with architectural firm Perkins & Will who provided the service to design the three Sarah’s Circle buildings at low or no cost, keeping in mind how women would use the spaces.
“We are very happy to be able to continue our relationship and support the agency,” said Christopher Hale of Perkins & Will. “It was motivating and inspiring for us to be able to help them and thus have an impact on the community. “
One of the women who recently moved into permanent accommodation at Sarah’s Circle is June Merritt, 60. She joined the organization eight years ago and has lived in her own apartment here since March of this year.
“Peace of mind. I can stay. Definitely, a place to call my home,” Merritt said. “There shouldn’t be anyone on the street. When I see that it hurts me because I haven’t. never slept in a tent in this situation, but I know what it’s like to be homeless.
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” Expands Community Reporting. We take to the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. Find out where we’ve been and what we’ve learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.