Lockdown impact discussed
by BRIAN NADIG
The impact of the lockdown on local businesses took center stage at virtual community meeting hosted by the North Mayfair Improvement Association last month.
"We do expect (permanent) closures," North River Commission executive director Thomas Applegate told the association at the May 21 meeting. "We still think much of this is hidden. … They just don’t know if they can move forward."
Many small businesses have laid-off their staff and are operating only with family members, including those who do not normally work there, Applegate said. Owners worry that their pre-pandemic revenue stream is not returning anytime soon and that that their store or restaurant could close in a few moths, he said.
Restaurants and bars in Chicago are allowed to serve customers outside, but it is not clear if many local establishments will do so or if it would be cost-effective given the uncertainty of Chicago’s weather, Applegate said.
The city has offered to close streets to create additional outdoor seating, but that option does not appear to be feasible for the Mayfair and Albany Park commercial districts, Applegate said. Many of the side streets are one-way, and a closure between Lawrence and the alley could prevent residents from driving to their homes.
Applegate said that during the pandemic the commission has had "300 direct communications" with area businesses in an effort to check on how they are doing and to answer questions on the loan and grant programs available to them.
Founded in 1962, the commission is a nonprofit entity that helps facilitate interaction among community groups, businesses, schools and houses of worship on the Northwest Side.
The commission also operates the Mayfair Commons senior living facility at 4444 W. Lawrence Ave.
There have been no reported coronavirus cases in the building, Applegate said. "We feel very lucky, but we feel we did the things to protect our seniors," he said.
Also at the meeting, Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) said that her office has given away 23,000 face masks or coverings, including some to schools and nursing homes, and that her staff has been in contact with the senior living facilities at the North Park Village 5801 N. Pulaski Road, to make sure their needs are being addressed during the pandemic.