Many of you participated in a series of community meetings facilitated by the urban planning firm Goodman Williams that lead to a comprehensive master plan for Six Corners Shopping District.
This document has already helped us articulate a collective vision to the development community. Key takeaways were the need for additional restaurants and density development
Together we have defended the icons in our community. When the Portage Theater was threatened, we came together and fought to keep it open as a cultural attraction. We won that fight, and it culminated at the May 8, 2013, City Council meeting when the council voted unanimously to designate the 70 year old theater a city landmark, the second such designation in the Six Corners Shopping District.
We helped The Renaissance Companies secure tax credits allowing them to invest $20 million in a much needed 98-unit senior housing center on a long vacant lot behind the Market Place Shopping Center.
Also, the positive marketing efforts of the Six Corners Association and my office have produced results. Six restaurants are in buildout or permitting within two blocks of the Six Corners intersection, including a Chipotle Restaurant at Kilpatrick and Irving Park Rd.
Our cultural offerings have been augmented with the addition of Filament Theatre Ensemble and the first national museum ever on the northwest side. The National Veterans Art Museum maintains a 2500-piece collection of art created by veterans dating back over 60 years. Both are well worth a visit at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave.
4901 W Irving Park Rd. has been sold, and we are working with the new owner to develop a plan that will further spur the economic revival of this historic shopping district.
The reality is, all along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, we have seen new businesses opening with more to come.
My office has worked with local chambers of commerce to promote the Small Business Improvement Fund program. It offers grant money to small retail business to help offset the cost of updating our aging commercial properties.
Since being sworn in, I have allocated more than $1.5 million to this program. And we will be releasing another $1.5 million from the Six Corners and Jefferson Park TIFs as this year’s construction season heats up.
I have challenged the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce to work with me to reinvent itself, and they have answered. We relaunched Jeff Fest as the Jeff Park Arts & Music Festival in 2012, and the 2013 event will again be held on the great lawn of Jefferson Memorial Park, July 26-28.
While we have not been offered a development plan to address the future of the Jefferson Park shopping district, I continue to hold meetings with every stakeholder. The Copernicus Center and the Transit Center anchor the area well, and we will develop a sustainable plan.
I have been clear to all that new ideas are needed, and the area deserves and will support well balanced development.
These improvements will take time, of course. We did not reach this point overnight, and we will not fix the problem overnight. But we are making progress.