Adult education center opens





by BRIAN NADIG

The Albany Park Community Center has opened an adult education center inside the former Blind Duck Lounge, 4219 W. Lawrence Ave.

It was reported at the Nov. 9 meeting of the Mayfair Civic Association that the two-story building, which includes a second-floor apartment, has been completely renovated, including the installation of a new glass storefront. Over the years numerous building code citations were issued due to the property’s poor condition.

The lounge closed several years ago, and the previous occupant was described by residents as a "junk dealer," with merchandise stacked from floor to ceiling.

Community center director of development Casey Smagala said that the storefront would be used for citizenship, English as a second language and general equivalency diploma classes. The center’s main facility, which holds a variety of programming for children and adults, is located at 5101 N. Kimball Ave.

Several residents at the meeting praised the efforts of the building’s new owner, Rany Management, to rehab the former Blind Duck building, and others in the Mayfair area.

Rany director of property management Jason Marcordes said that plans are being made to renovate the coachhouse located behind the former lounge and that the company is rehabbing a storefront at 4027 W. Montrose Ave. He added that the company spent about $1 million fixing a building at the southwest corner of Lawrence and Elston avenues and that all 14 apartments there are occupied.

Marcordes said that the company specializes in rehabbing mixed-use and multi-family buildings and then maintaining ownership for the long-term instead of selling the property once the improvements are completed.

Also at the meeting, Smagala reported that an intern for the center had collected 476 signatures on a petition in support of converting an 11,000-square-foot vacant parcel at 4542-48 N. Kedvale Ave. into a park. The association and other groups have asked the city or the Chicago Park District to acquire the property for a park, and Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) has expressed support for the project.

"Now, (children) have to walk across a busy street, Elston, to get to Mayfair Park," association president Ron Duplack said, calling for a park to serve those families living east of Elston Avenue.

While the Spikings Farm Playlot, 4706 N. Pulaski Road, is located east of Elston, some residents said that it is too small.

"Kids can’t kick a ball there," Smagala said.

The petition will help provide evidence of the community’s desire for a new park when potential funding sources or sponsors are contacted, Duplack said. The triangular shape of the property, whose listing price is $450,000, would make it difficult to build a new home on the parcel given the city’s yard size and setback requirements, he said.

It also was reported that the Trump administration has reduced the time period for enrolling in Obamacare from 90 to 45 days and that in the first few days of enrollment in early November, the number of enrollees was up 33 percent from last year.

"It’s a hard deadline, Dec. 15. There is no way to get around that," U.S. Representative Mike Quigley’s district director Mary Ann Levar told the association.

Meanwhile, Elevate Energy field organizer Macy Gould reported that energy assessments of homes are available for $99 and that homeowners can save thousands of dollars in energy bills by making the necessary improvements.

"When you’re losing energy, it’s (primarily) through your attic and basement," Gould said. "Where heat is escaping this time of year, cold air is coming in."

There also are special incentives available for owners of multi-family buildings to make energy-saving improvements, allowing for lower rents, Gould said.

Elevate Energy is a nonprofit that encourages more efficient use of energy. More information is available at www.elevateenergy. org.

It also was reported that the association is raising money to pay for landscaping improvements near the southeast corner of Elston and Lawrence avenues in part due to reports of drinking that takes place behind trees there.