Now open: Hairpin Lofts & Logan Square Arts Center

July 28, 2011

Hairpin Lofts & Logan Square Arts Center
on Milwaukee Ave.

It’s been over 20 years since the public has stepped foot above the first floor of the Hairpin Lofts and Logan Square Arts Center (photo left, “before”) — until today!

The reconfigured and newly renovated and restored building at the northwest corner of Diversey and Milwaukee Avenues (photo above, “after”) is certified for occupancy and open for business.

You can read a bit more about the building’s journey at History of the Morris B. Sachs building (Part I) and (Part II), Celebrating Hairpin Lofts! and Desirable defacement.

On the top four floors of the building, tenants will now reside in new apartments (photo left) where office workers once toiled.  And enjoy a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood (photo below left looks north up Kimball Avenue).

On the second floor of the building will be the Logan Square Arts Center, a performance and multi-use space managed by the Logan Square Chamber of Arts.

You can dive right in and see for yourself the new Logan Square Arts Center during the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival this weekend (see below).

Scene in Logan Square:

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival takes place this weekend, July 29-31, from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday, noon to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on Milwaukee Avenue between Rockwell and Wolfram Streets.

You might start off your festival experience with the 50 & Fabulous performance at the Logan Square Arts Center Friday night at 8:00 p.m.  You could take some time on Saturday to channel your own artistic side starting at 2:30 p.m. with the All Ages Make & Take Art Workshops, fuel your artsy adventure at neighborhood restaurants or the curated Food and drink at the festival, or test your artistic expression at 7:30 p.m. with Foreign language karaoke.  You may challenge your perspective on Sunday at the Undomesticated gallery, see how the festival has unfolded at the See, Hear, Now gallery, and pick up a souvenir of the festival at the Indoor Art Market.  There’s much more to see and do.  Map your own route or let the art unfold in your own exploration.

Kedzie Avenue bike lanes and sharrows

July 18, 2011

They’ve been up for a month now.  How do you like the new Kedzie Avenue bike lanes courtesy of a Federally funded city-wide bike lane installation project?

Everyone who uses Kedzie Avenue here will have to make the necessary adjustments, and so far, so good from what I’ve seen.

For those unfamiliar with the markings, the solid lines with the bike stencil and solid, single arrow (photo below right) designate bike lanes dedicated to bicyclists.  Motor vehicles must not cross the solid line.  Bicyclists must travel in the direction of the arrow.

The dotted line delineates the area where cross traffic can cross the bicycle lane, and the bike stencil with two chevrons above it–otherwise known as a “sharrow” or shared lane marking (photo below left)–indicates where cyclists and motorists must share the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Independent businesses and artists together (Part II)

June 30, 2011

I’m finishing up the discussion (for now) about the Logan Square Arts and Business Center (Logan Square ABC).  I’ve had a lot to say about it already because I believe it’s a promising direction for a vital Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Square.

Making room for business

While the Logan Square ABC lends legitimacy to the artist tenants, it can also create room to thrive and grow for business tenants.  Like so many entrepreneurs, one of the founders of the Logan Square Mompreneurs, Carolyn Ou, started her Sandbox Consulting career and business coaching business from her home.  But, as a mom, that quickly meant doing business out of her car!

With two kids at home, the car was often the only place she could find the quiet to coach her clients by phone.  Even when there was relative quiet on the home front, Carolyn found it difficult to separate home and work life.

She moved out of the home and into another co-office space that she shared with another.  When her co-office mate decided not to renew the lease, Carolyn was faced with the less appealing choices of moving back to her car! or facing the possibility of having to keep finding co-office Read the rest of this entry »

Best neighborhood ever! Logan Square

June 23, 2011

I really hadn’t planned on it.  I’d covered the Chicago Reader’s “Best of” issues for the past three years.  I thought I was through with it, at least for the time being.  I didn’t encourage readers to vote in this year’s Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago 2011” polls.

But, dammit! “Best Overall Neighborhood” merits a blog post.

Best Overall Neighborhood – Logan Square

But not just Best Overall Neighborhood; how about:

Best Neighborhood for Affordability – Logan Square

(runner-up) Best Neighborhood for Culture – Logan Square

(runner-up) Best Neighborhood for Diversity – Logan Square

(runner-up) Best Neighborhood for Nightlife – Logan Square.

After having to work to find last year’s Logan Square gems (see “Best of” closest to the square), this year’s edition was chock full of Logan Square, which, like the whole of Chicago, does its share of “world-class dining scene,”  “grassroots arts movement,” and “one beautiful mess of highbrow and low.”  It’s almost all Logan Square, all the time this year, so I’ve not distinguished the Reader’s picks from the Reader’s readers’ picks.  [Update:  How did I Read the rest of this entry »

Independent businesses and artists together (Part I)

June 8, 2011

Who are the businesses and artists independent together–like Rudolph and Herbie (see video below)–at the Logan Square Arts and Business Center (Logan Square ABC) and how do they see the space?

Lending credence to art

Artist/curator/educator/consultant Alpha Bruton (see sample of her work here–scroll to bottom) was the first to sign on as a tenant at the Logan Square Arts and Business Center in July 2010.  Not surprisingly, Alpha had also accepted Susan Fox’s invitation to the open house for the co-working/co-office space Read the rest of this entry »

ABC’s of the Logan Square Arts and Business Center

June 4, 2011


Logan Square Arts and Business Center

Like Rudolph and Herbie (see video above), some local businesses and artists are going it alone together in the shared office space of the Logan Square Arts and Business Center at 2823 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Lourdes Arencibia created the co-office space (photo below) just last year from what had previously been a mortgage office where she once worked.  The second floor space is part of her family’s business that includes Crown Liquors and the Crown Tap Room below.  Once the mortgage business vacated the space as part of the recent housing reset, Lourdes had been looking for a single tenant while at the same time wondering if she could rent the many small offices individually. Read the rest of this entry »

The softer side of Milwaukee Avenue

May 19, 2011

Upon reading The Dirt blog Interview with Jan Gehl, who is the author of Cities for People (on my “to read” list), I was prompted to write more about why big box stores don’t work in urban neighborhoods, about why blank walls kill the spirit of commercial corridors, or, rather, the opposite — about what does work. 

What does work are soft edges, particularly on the ground floors, “where the communication between building inside and outside occurs.”

One of the reasons I think the stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Logan Boulevard and Diversey Avenue (and its Kedzie Avenue opposing street wall) has such potential is because of the plethora of soft edges that still exist, along with some that have been created in recent years.

The newer additions are the various sidewalk cafés like Ciao Napoli Pizzeria’s (photo below left) that even makes its barrier interesting with an unexpected notch in its plane.  Then there’s old- (or never left-) school, like the sidewalk sales of Royal Discount Center (photo below right).


Read the rest of this entry »