Resident raise concerns on Milwaukee storefronts
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about the future of several storefronts in the 5200 block of North Milwaukee Avenue were raised at the April 25 meeting of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
During a recent community cleanup event, residents discovered the deteriorating condition of the former K House of Flowers building at 5249 N. Milwaukee Ave., said association treasurer Michelle Kerr.
The approximately 3,000-square-foot parcel, which is located at the northeast corner of Milwaukee and Foster avenues, was sold last year following the death of the flower shop’s longtime owner. A permit application for the demolition of the one-story building was filed late last year, but it has not been issued.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said in a statement that the fate of the site’s redevelopment is uncertain. Under the site’s existing zoning, a mixed-use development with one apartment would be allowed, but there were reports that a zoning change was being considered for the site.
Several residents at the meeting expressed concern that the block could have another vacancy in response to reports that Family Dollar is closing. The dollar store is located in a building at 5255 N. Milwaukee Ave. that has three storefronts, including a cell phone store and a former tanning salon.
The store was going to be converted into a Dollar Express, which is operated by a private equity firm that in 2015 acquired some of the Family Dollar stores, but Dollar General Corporation recently announced plans to buy the Dollar Express chain, whose stores are undergoing liquidation sales. Dollar General reportedly has plans to re-open the stores later this year.
Also at the meeting, residents were encouraged to give their input on public infrastructure improvements which are needed in Gladstone Park.
Arena is one of nine aldermen who hold a community vote to determine how to spend most of their ward’s annual allocation of $1.32 million in discretionary funds, said Kerr, who serves on the 45th Ward’s participatory budgeting committee. "It’s a chance for Gladstone to get resources in our neck of the woods," she said.
In recent years initiatives to fund improvements near the Gladstone Park Metra Station, 5500 N. Austin Ave., and pedestrian-friendly enhancements near Hitch School, 5625 N. McVicker Ave., have failed to garner enough votes on the participatory budget ballot. "The ward office will fund the top vote-getters until they run out of money," Kerr said.
Arena will hold the following meetings to gather feedback on possible ballot items: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at the Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 3857 N. Kostner Ave., 11 a.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., 6 p.m. Monday, May 8, at Hitch School, 5625 N. McVicker Ave., 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 9, at the Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison St., and 6 p.m., Thursday, May 11, at the Filament Theater, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave.
It also was reported that $12,000 was raised at a recent fund-raiser for the Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation, which provides medical care and temporary homes for lost pets.
Also, association vice president John Garrido said that the association is looking at the creation of discount cards which members could use at local businesses. Association dues are $20.
The association’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at the Rosedale Park fieldhouse, 6312 W. Rosedale Ave.