Group recieves upbeat report on Six Corners
by BRIAN NADIG
The owner of one of three new restaurants which are under construction in the 4000 block of North Milwaukee Avenue said that he chose the Six Corners shopping district because of the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage and the recent influx of investment in the area.
“What other neighborhood are you going to see such diversity?” restaurant owner Quay Tao said at the Feb. 13 luncheon of the Six Corners Association. “It’s starting to all come together, and people are finally talking about Six Corners. We’re going to start feeling appreciated very soon.”
Quay said that the association welcomed him and that association executive director Ed Bannon and Alderman John Arena (45th) walked him through the district, pointing out available properties. Tao, who also owns the Portage Restaurant, 3938 N. Central Ave., purchased a building at 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave., and in January a construction permit was issued for the project.
Tao said that the working title restaurant is “Community” and that it will be an “upscale tavern” with a bar, a dining room and a private party space. The City Council approved an ordinance rezoning the property from B1-1 to B3-1 to accommodate the bar last year.
Arena said that both and public investment, including $3.3 million in tax increment financing grants that about 40 businesses have received in the past 7 years, has sparked the revitalization of the area. “We really have an equation for success in the very near future,” he said.
Construction also recently began on Taurus, a brew pub-style restaurant at 4024 N. Milwaukee Ave., and Josi’s Frozen Yogurt Cafe, 4032 N. Milwaukee Ave. Josi’s owner Barbara Murphy said that the cafe will open this spring and that it will feature a section where products made by local residents, such as baked goods and T-shirts, will be sold.
The restaurants will be located across street from the new Filament Theater, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. Other occupants of the building are the Inside Out Art Studio, the National Veterans Art Museum and the association’s offices.
Filament program manager Jackie Intres said that the 4,000-square-foot theater will hold the third edition of “Crossing Six Corners” this year. The show highlights the area’s history and features a mix of song, drama and story-telling which the theater’s ensemble members write based on interviews with local residents, Intres said.
It also was announced at the meeting that the association and Northwest Arts Connection will sponsor the “Around the Corner” art festival in the shopping district on Saturday, Aug. 30. The festival will feature variety of visual, performing, horticultural and culinary art in locations throughout the shopping district.
The festival was inspired by the installation of the “Portage” sculpture, which depicts a Native American carrying a canoe, in the 4000 block of North Cicero Avenue, Bannon said. Portage Park was named after a portage in the area that linked the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers.
Also at the meeting, Arena reported that Cermak Fresh Market operator Mike Bousis, who owns the former Bank of America site at 4901 W. Irving Park Road, appears interested in selling the property now that he has acquired several former Dominick’s grocery stores and is focusing his redevelopment efforts at those locations. Plans had called for the former bank building to be demolished, but Arena wants the building, which has a 300-seat auditorium, preserved.
Bank of America has taken bids for its property at 4747 W. Irving Park Road but has not sold the site, which has a large, underutilized parking area, Arena said. The bank is planning to have its existing facility there replaced by a smaller branch that would be part of a new development.
There was no update at the meeting on the shuttered Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. Some of the annual shows and film festivals which the theater hosted may be held instead in the auditorium at Schurz High School, 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Theater owner Eddie Carranza, who owns several other properties at Six Corners, closed the theater last spring and is seeking a new operator. Carranza also owns the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., which has been closed since last year due to building code issues and which reportedly is for sale.
Also at the meeting, state Representative Robert Martwick (D-19) said that he has introduced legislation which is designed to address the problem of landlords who keep storefronts empty and take advantage of lower property assessments on vacant buildings. The legislation is undergoing revisions, Martwick said.
The association plans to hold its fourth annual “Six Corners BBQ Fest” in June. The festival features live music, food vendors, a cooking contest and children’s activities.