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 »

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ABC’s of the Logan Square Arts and Business Center

June 4, 2011

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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 »


Pedestrians have been left out of the multi-modal Logan Square transportation hub

May 23, 2011

Pedestrians Cross Kedzie Ave.
at the Logan Square “el” Stop

The photo above illustrates a typical daily evening scene as passengers exit the main north exit of the Logan Square “el” station to head east across Kedzie Avenue on foot.  In the morning pedestrians are crossing in the opposite direction.

As people will forever choose the shortest distance between two points, it does not make sense for passengers to walk out of their way due north or due south to the intersections with Schubert and Milwaukee Avenues, respectively.  As people also tend to choose the lesser of two evils, it does not make sense for passengers to tangle with the bus traffic at the bus depot north of the exit, so they instead choose to dodge the cars on Kedzie Avenue.

Fortunately there’s a large median separating southbound and northbound Kedzie Avenue traffic, so after negotiating southbound traffic, pedestrians have a respite to plan their next traffic dodge on the other side of the median.  But this seems like a problem whose time has come to be solved.

The east side of Kedzie has filled out nicely over the years to create a restaurant row conveniently located to the “el,” bus depot, and public parking lot that combine for this excellent multi-modal transportation hub.  Bike racks have been installed inside and outside the station in recent years, and there are plans for bike lanes on Kedzie Avenue from Milwaukee Avenue north. Pedestrians, though, have not been accommodated well.  So what’s the solution?

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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).

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More thoughts on the (Woodard) plaza proposal

May 15, 2011

Multi-purpose

Late to the game (it’s been around since 2008), I recently discovered this clever bike rack/public bench/subway vent (photo below) that is a good idea for the proposed plaza rework at the triangle north of the Milwaukee-Kimball-Diversey intersection (see Improving on the [Woodard] plaza proposal).

NYC MTA Bike Rack-Public Bench-Subway Vent

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Improving on the (Woodard) plaza proposal

May 6, 2011

I attended the Public meeting March 8 regarding another public plaza proposal, this one at the triangle north of the Milwaukee-Kimball-Diversey intersection.  The meeting was reasonably well-attended, mostly by neighbors in the immediate vicinity, including representatives from the Crown Tap Room and the Hairpin Lofts and Logan Square Community Arts Center, two businesses that will be greatly impacted by whatever happens here.

With essentially the input of those two stakeholders and under the division of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) tasked with this project–the Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program–CDOT set forth the use case for the community: 

Design goals and process

  1. Create an active, urban public space.
  2. Create a destination, frequented by all ages and lifestyles.
  3. Integrate environmental initiatives by infiltrating storm water that falls on site.
  4. Create a space for possible sustainable street innovations such as bike parking or WIFI.
  5. Create places for art integration.
  6. Coordinate improvements with the Hairpin Loft Building and Logan Square Community Arts Center. Read the rest of this entry »

Logan Square’s pop-ular

November 30, 2010

Offbeat pop culture magazine Nylon takes “the pulse of the most exciting cities in the nation” in its November issue.   Of course Chicago is included.  Not just Chicago, but “the real Chicago:”

…like Logan Square, where artists shop for breakfast radishes at the weekend farmers market and knock back a couple of Van Winkle whiskeys at the gastropub on the corner after work.

The Chicago feature includes about 14 elements of note, and there are 6 (six!) mentions of Logan Square or neighboring Avondale attractions: