Plans for Aug. 12 community meeting on 5850 N. Elston condo project announced at GPNA meeting; Congressman Quigley addresses group
by BRIAN NADIG
The Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association on Aug. 5 held its first in-person membership meeting in about 1 ½ years, although the organization stayed “virtually” active as much as possible during the pandemic.
The association recently hosted its last “Virtual Supper Club” in which residents were encouraged to get delivery or carryout from a local restaurant and post pictures of their at-home dining experience on the association’s Facebook page. In more recent months, the association also encouraged residents to eat at the restaurant and share photographs.
“I know the area businesses really appreciated this,” association president Joe DiCiaula said. “I was really proud of the association that we were able to come together, even though we weren’t (in person),” he said.
In other matters, it was reported that a community meeting on a proposed 18-unit condominium project at 5850 N. Elston Ave., where the former Elston Avenue United Methodist Church would be demolished, will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Kolping Society, 5826 N. Elston Ave.
“It’s a pretty full use of that space,” DiCiaula said of the project’s site plan. He added that the association met with Alderman James Gardiner (45th) and requested that the units be owner-occupied instead of rental.
The proposal calls for three, three-story buildings, each with six units. Twenty-four on-site parking spaces are planned.
Gardiner last month held a virtual meeting on the project, but it was cut short due to technical issues, and he said that he would instead host an in-person meeting. Several association members said that Gardiner has been seeking input from from the association early in the decision-making process for development projects.
It also was reported that the association had been working with Gardiner on a plan of operation for a proposed independent convenience store that would replace the former 7-Eleven at 5789 N. Milwaukee Ave. The plan, which would become a condition of the store’s license, would place several restrictions on liquor sales, including the hours which alcohol could be sold.
DiCiaula said that it is not clear if plans for the store are moving forward.
In addition, DiCiaula said that the partially demolished former DiLeo’s restaurant/Republic Bank at 5700 N. Central Ave. continues to be an eyesore and a safety threat to the community. The demolition came to a halt many months ago reportedly due to environmental issues.
There have been problems of graffiti on the site, with reports of “kids getting in here,” DiCiaula said.
An update also was given on the Chase Bank which is under construction at Milwaukee and Austin avenues. Plans call or the existing bank building at 5813 N. Milwaukee Ave to be demolished once the new branch opens.
Chase officials have said that the underutilized bank parking lot on the north end of the site eventually will be sold. “There’s probably a fairly large development sitting out there,” DiCiaula said.
Also at the meeting, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-5) reported that the Chicago region is in the process of getting about 600 more U.S. Postal Service workers and that the proposed infrastructure bill would help address the “digital divide” by providing better access to high-speed internet service to rural communities and low-income urban residents.
Quigley compared fixing the digital divide to when measures where taken in the 1930s to bring electricity to rural America. “It changed the country,” he said.
When asked if Democrats and Republicans in Congress will be able to do a better job of working together, Quigley responded that it can difficult to do so when some members are trying to adjourn meetings before anything gets done or are seeking to have the presidential election results overthrown.
The association plans to sell “Gladstone Park” tee-shirts at the “Throwback Music Fest” on Aug. 27-29 near Milwaukee and Elston avenues.