Saturday, June 28, 2014

BAPA survey on neighborhood business districts

Have you taken the BAPA survey about our 19th ward business districts?  If not, please do.

Most businesses on 95th and on Western can be reached by bike with a little creative navigation and many can be reached by walking, some of them quite easily. Getting across on 111th to destinations in Mt. Greenwood would be so much easier if we had bike lanes from about Washtenaw to Albany. Speeding drivers are a major problem there. Kedzie is even worse, because too many drivers try to run cyclists off the road there.  Even though Mt. Greenwood businesses there do have bike racks, I won't put them on the list due to the hazard of Mt. Greenwood drivers.

We've got plenty of bike friendly places to eat and drink in the neighborhood. If Cafe 103 was still around, I would have included them in the list. Jimmy Jamm is easy to walk to, and I hope the city will give us a bike rack there.

Bike groups do tours all over the city. When they hear about good restaurants in areas that interest them, they come. If they have good experiences, they tell their friends and they come back again. Neighborhood business districts in many parts of the city have learned this lesson. Why can't ours?

Top Notch
Hardboiled Coffee
Ellie's Cafe
Rainbow Cone
Horse Thief Hollow
Beverly Bakery & Cafe
Markland Hubbard

Saturday morning at Ellie's

Businesses around 99th & Walden make their pedestrian friendly locations inviting. While sidewalk space along Walden is too tight for bike racks, having racks just around the corner on 99th works pretty well.  I really miss Blue Moon and wish we had a lunch and dinner cafe at that intersection.

Here's my list of biggest frustrations with our neighborhood restaurant offerings:

* not enough quality places open for dinner or on Sundays
* not enough non-Italian ethnic choices
* not enough variety in types of food offered (too much emphasis on pizza, sandwiches, burgers and not enough other choices)

There's so much untapped potential here.  Has there ever been any thought about doing an incentive program for building owners on 95th to improve the appearance of their buildings? Are there other long-term issues about the buildings themselves that have made them unattractive to mid-level businesses? Does anyone have an answer as to why the street level retail space in the new 103rd St. residential building east of the Metra tracks is still vacant? Is it an issue of rents that are too high for the neighborhood?

We've got a lot of good independent businesses in the ward that are worth supporting. Independents help give our business districts a unique character and make those areas destinations - for folks in the ward and from other parts of the city.  Let's give them our support and try to get more of them to fill the abundance of vacant storefronts.

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