Possible car dealership in the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue
by BRIAN NADIG
Updates on a possible car dealership in the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, the state’s budget stalemate and an area street festival were given at the Feb. 23 meeting of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
Alderman John Arena (45th) reported that close to 90 percent of the estimated 110,000 to 120,000 square feet of land that may be required for the dealership has been purchased. Arena said that project officials are pursuing the rights to open a dealership at the site but that a "final commitment" from a car manufacturer may not be possible until all the land is secured.
Automobile makers have implemented additional eligibility requirements for those who want to operate a dealership, including tougher restrictions on how close two dealerships can be located to each other, Arena said.
Arena said that a dealership would generate a lot of sales tax revenue for the city and draw people to the Gladstone Park commercial district, including its employees. "That’s 100 employees looking for a place to eat lunch," he said.
The site includes the former Gateway Chevrolet showroom at 5371-73 N. Milwaukee Ave. which was demolished last year and is now being used as a vehicle storage lot for Marino Chrysler Jeep Dodge, 5133 W. Irving Park Road. Several other buildings in the area, including those that housed a hair salon and a motorcycle repair shop, also have been torn down and are being used for storage.
Arena said that Marino has made some recent beautification and safety improvements to the site. "They intend on being a good community neighbor," he said.
Arena also reported that a plan to open a motorcycle store at 5398 N. Milwaukee Ave., where Motive Parts Company of America was once located, does not appear to be moving forward.
Plans called for the addition of a second floor to the building, but the motorcycle company, Riders Needs, closed its shop at 3826 W. Montrose Ave. and has had no recent communication with the alderman’s office, Arena said. "My sense is that is not going to happen," he said.
On the issue of O’Hare Airport, Arena said that city Department of Aviation commissioner Ginger Evans has been more responsive to residents’ concerns about jet noise than her predecessor, Rosemarie Andolino. "There really was no concern on what to do right now," Arena said of Andolino’s administration.
A plan to rotate runways on a weekly basis at night is expected to start later this year as part of a 6-month test. Arena said that the plan is intended to spread out the noise over a greater area by using more runways.
Also at the meeting, state Senator John Mulroe (D-10) expressed frustration with the lack of progress on approving a state 2016 fiscal year budget and said that higher education and social services are being hurt the most by the stalemate. "The governor gives a (2017) budget address, and the prior year there hadn’t been a budget," Mulroe said. "That has never happened before."
Mulroe said that Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is seeking to reduce workers’ rights and that the governor’s anti-union agenda does not represent the working class constituents of the 10th District.
Mulroe said that part of the reason for the budget stalemate is that Rauner came from a corporate world in which he made the decisions about his company and compromise was not required. He said that Republican lawmakers are "really afraid of this guy" and that Rauner upset many of them when he told them to vote against an education appropriations bill, which the governor later signed.
One resident said that the Democrat-controlled General Assembly should do more to resolve the budget impasse. "Why don’t the Democrats come up with a balanced budget?" the man said. "Then you put the governor in a corner."
Association president Joe DiCiaula announced that a street festival featuring bands, food vendors and family activities is planned for the weekend of Sept. 9 to 11 on Milwaukee Avenue between Elston Avenue and Miami Avenue.
The Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce is the main sponsor and organizer of the festival, and the association has agreed to help plan of the event, DiCiaula said. He said that volunteers are being sought.
The association’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at the Rosedale Park fieldhouse, 6312 W. Rosedale Ave.