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home : viewpoints b Sunday, July 30, 2006

6/14/2006 10:00:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 

Sterilizing Bucktown, one building at a time
Thanks for the great article about the loft building at 1611 N. Wolcott ("Wolcott lofts to fall," June 7). This building is filled with character. It is a real loss for the Bucktown-Wicker Park area.

Preservation Chicago distributed color photographs of the 1611 N. Wolcott building to all attendees at the packed March 15 meeting of the Bucktown Community Organization and spoke out at that meeting to the attendees, including to 32nd Ward Alderman Ted Matlak, about the importance of this building.

This building is solid with nice details. It is a shame to lose it.

Why are we going to sterilize the neighborhood? The small businesses in this building added to the atmosphere of the neighborhood. Without them, the neighborhood will be a little less interesting. That takes the neighborhood in the wrong direction.

The physical presence of the building is also important. The 1611 N. Wolcott building gives the street a real Chicago-style appearance. Just look at the detail of the facade.

Adding insult to injury, there is a terrific water tower on top of the building. This water tower adds a great exclamation point to the neighborhood skyline. The water tower makes you feel like you are in Chicago and not in Anyplace, USA.

Ironically, the city of Chicago held a competition last year to generate ideas for reusing our historic rooftop water towers. The demolition plans on Wolcott go 180 degrees away from that project.

Why is the city doing nothing to protect this water tower? What was the point of the competition if the city is going to continue to allow the demolition of the buildings underneath the water towers? It make no sense.

Meanwhile, where is Matlak? Why is he supportive of the demolition plans? Also, the developer may make an end run around the zoning process and make the first floor residential, which is against the current zoning for the site. We need Matlak to get involved so that this abuse of zoning does not occur.

Michael Moran
Vice President, Preservation Chicago

Why not make it official in Logan Square?
Keeping the community up to date on the latest news and gossip is just one of the great things your paper has done for the communities like Bucktown. You also provide a space for local businesses to get the word out about upcoming sales and events at rates they can actually afford, compared to the downtown dailies. And the police blotter gives us the lowdown on local crime as well as something fun to read on the el.

That being said, I’d like to formally invite you to spread your wings a little bit and add the Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods to your growing service area. From my cursory review of some recent issues, it seems like your writers are already covering some community events in area so why not let us in on the fun? You might even find a few more local businesses to buy ads within your peach-colored folds.

Logan Square is home to all sorts of community activism, which would ensure your writers have ample grist for milling over the next several years. The activities and wide array of public opinion alone surrounding the closing and potential redevelopment of the Mega Mall at 2500 N. Milwaukee are worthy of a 10-part series. We have contested public referenda issues on nearly every ballot and plenty of quirks and artistry to spice up your Metropolis section. Have you been to Wolfbait & B-Girls, our new boutique featuring all goods crafted in Chicago?

For the unaware, Bucktown north of the Bloomingdale railroad tracks and its new cousin, West Bucktown, are actually part of the Logan Square "community area," an official designation decreed long ago by a few University of Chicago social scientists. I’ve consulted with other community leaders here and we have decided that we can let that one pass if you agree to shine some light on our little pasture to the northwest.

Josh Deth
Executive Director, Logan Square Chamber of Commerce

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Preview House 3-27-06

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