It’s not over yet

March 24, 2009

Just a couple of weeks ago I expressed hope, in And another one gone, that that was it for closings and vacancies.  But it’s not over yet.

State Senator Martinez has moved her office from Milwaukee Avenue to Kedzie Avenue.

2733-martinez-044-movingFormer Milwaukee Ave. Office
of Senator Martinez

Read the rest of this entry »

And another one gone

March 9, 2009

2657-kedzie-the-winds-closing-004The Winds Café on Kedzie Avenue closed (photo right) in early February.  The signs say the closure is for the purpose of remodeling (photo inset).  While I had hoped that was true, I had my doubts, and, come to find out, the building and the business are for sale.  Still I’m hoping they may just take a break during these winter months, during this current economy, to cut their losses, and that they’ll open again when the weather improves and more people are walking about the neighborhood.  Or, that they’ll sell to a profitable operator or other business.


And another one gone

Further north, I don’t even know when the Washington Mutual at the corner of Spaulding and Milwaukee Avenues closed (photo left).   It was some time between New Year’s and early February.  Read the rest of this entry »

One step backwards, two steps forward on Milwaukee Avenue

November 7, 2008

2620-food4less-vacant-11-6-08-003Store closing

Last weekend, Food for Less closed its doors. It was a short-lived venture, and there have been probably three other similar dollar stores in the same space in recent years.

To my dismay, the building owners have reinstalled the window grates, once again creating a perception that Milwaukee Avenue is unsafe (see Spring cleaning).

The new “for rent” signs have an Indiana telephone number. I find this interesting because over and over again when I have talked with the business and property owners on Milwaukee Avenue, those that do not live in the neighborhood were surprised that I do live in the neighborhood. They have a perception of the area as not being safe. I’ll grant you that we still have more than our fair share of crime. With Milwaukee Avenue, though, it seems to me a chicken or the egg situation. What comes first: a change in perception or reality? Read the rest of this entry »

Milwaukee Avenue hygiene

August 26, 2008

Yesterday, marketing expert/author/speaker/etc. Seth Godin posted a piece, More vs. enough, about the application of Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory .

There are applications for Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square.

Herzberg’s work, concerning attitudes on the job, shows that there are two factors at work: motivation and hygiene (I know, I know; stick with me). Motivators or what may increase satisfaction are things like
challenging work on the job, or low prices at Milwaukee Avenue stores.
Hygiene factors or what may reduce dissatis-
faction are things like job security in the workplace or the cleanliness of Milwaukee Avenue.

Milwaukee Avenue merchants and property owners must address both satisfaction through prices and products, for example, and the absence of dissatisfaction through, for example, cleanliness and maintenance.

Re-investment and reasonable rents

July 31, 2008

More with Dulce Ramos

I have more to share of my interview with Dulce Ramos, owner of The Pump Room Boutique, a shoe store located on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square from 2003 to 2007. I lost recording of a part of the interview, so Dulce’s words are interspersed below in my own recap and commentary on some of the things we talked about earlier this month.

Building conditions

In addition to outgrowing the space at the original location of the The Pump Room Boutique at 2727 N. Milwaukee Avenue (see An interview with Dulce Ramos), a pipe had burst in the building, warping and damaging the painted floor that had contributed to the unique feel of the store. The building owner was supposed to pay for repair of the floor, but never did. The floor was never repaired, the painting never restored, the feeling never regained. As bad luck would have it, not even a new location at 2630 N. Milwaukee Avenue cured water problems for the store. Read the rest of this entry »

Messy urban vitality (Part II)

July 17, 2008

Visual order

Reader Christopher advocates for a “messy urban vitality” (see previous posts: Overwhelming messiness, Sign of confusion and Sign, sign, everywhere a sign), and recalls a passage from Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an urban planning classic, to reinforce his point. While I am unable to find the passage that Christopher recalls, Jacobs devotes a chapter to “Visual order: its limitations and possibilities.” In it she notes that we are bombarded with a variety of impressions on city streets (signs, buildings, storefronts, etc.), and we are able to sort through those and weed out those that are irrelevant to give order to our surroundings, “…unless those impressions are too strong to ignore (emphasis added).” Unfortunately, that is what we face on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square.

Relative perspective

City streets can be viewed in relative perspectives: aesthetics vs. usability, the long view vs. the close-up, and a punctuated impression vs. a sustained consciousness, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Messy urban vitality (Part I)

July 14, 2008

Overwhelming messiness

Reader Christopher has made a couple of comments disagreeing with my take on signage on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square (see previous posts: Sign of confusion and Sign, sign, everywhere a sign). He advocates for a “messy urban vitality;” and I suspect he means the “urban edginess” that I have referenced. I thought I’d take an opportunity to address his comments in a larger context.

The larger context is important because, while my individual posts may cover a specific element of Milwaukee Avenue, such as signage, there are a myriad of elements that can contribute to the success or failure of Milwaukee Avenue. Not all elements may need to be addressed–or addressed simultaneously, but some do, as the messiness currently overwhelms the vitality. The proper balance must be sought and maintained to keep the messiness from impeding the revitalization of this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, while allowing the place to remain urban. Read the rest of this entry »