Area’s ten communities provide big news in 2017 with thorough Gazette Chicago coverage
January 4, 2018

A large crowd of parishioners and friends of St. Adalbert’s Parish garnered media attention when they marched at Holy Name Cathedral.

By William S. Bike

The ten communities of this area experienced another busy news year in 2017, and Gazette Chicago covered the news thoroughly. Following is a look back at news in the months the newspaper covered it.

JANUARY

A City of Chicago vision plan for Chicago’s three rivers included clean up and restoration of Bridgeport’s Bubbly Creek. The City decided to create the Wells Wentworth Connector, a new roadway between Chinatown and the Loop. The Southeast Environmental Task Force expressed concerns about oil freight trains operating in local communities. The Riverline and 21st St. Lofts developments were under construction in the South Loop/Near South area.

The Resurrection Project was interested in developing residential units on a 7.85-acre site in Pilsen. Local merchants asked the City to use Kinzie Corridor TIF funds to help the homeless. The City plan-ned a new Roosevelt Branch Library. Developers planned to build two 12-story apartment buildings next to the Medical District Apartments. The City dedicated the Eleanor Street Boat House.

Parishioners worked to save two churches: the Shrine of Christ the King suffered the effects of a fire, and St. Adalbert’s Church was ordered closed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The Food Research and Action Center reported that 14% of Illinois residents were struggling to afford food. Chicago Shakespeare announced plans to construct a new performance venue.

FEBRUARY

Five candidates ran for 4th Ward Alderman. Pilsen Alliance advocated for a Community Benefits Agreement that would protect residents and business owners. The Chicago Housing Initiative, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, and 20 aldermen collaborated on the Keeping the Promise ordinance to help reduce homelessness, expand affordable housing, and reform the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

The CHA announced a plan to redevelop the site of the former Harold L. Ickes Homes. The Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer team selected the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Andrew Putna to play pro soccer. Tom Van Eck brought in new and repaired billiards equipment to the Valentine, Little Village, and True Value Boys and Girls Clubs.

MARCH

City officials granted a building permit for the One South Halsted St. tower, prompting concerns about Greektown parking and congestion. Neighbors were concerned that Arrigo Park was becoming an “active” (sports-oriented) park, rather than a “passive one” Parishioners and friends of St. Adalbert’s Parish protested near Holy Name Cathedral, asking the Archdiocese to keep their church open.

With Trump Administration actions targeting a variety of people in this area, Gazette Chicago compiled a list of organizations to help people resist. The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization looked at lead levels in the residential and school water supplies. Children of Peace School honored Phyllis Winter and Arlene Redmond for their contributions to the school and its deaf/hard-of-hearing program.

Queen of Peace High School announced it would close, with St. Laurence High School going co-ed and accepting Queen of Peace students. Mercy Hospital and Medical Center announced a new $75 million renovation project. Building contractor Mark Zoll announced plans to transform a former lampshade factory at 540 W. 35th St. into offices, music studios, and art galleries. Volunteers hit the streets to raise money for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.

APRIL

Several neighborhood organizations in the West Loop worked on new initiatives to foster economic development and a safer environment in the area. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Chicago announced plans to build an eight-story senior housing development. The Herbal Care Center marijuana dispensary opened on the Near West Side.

Anti-Semitic flyers were posted at UIC and denounced by UIC administration, faculty, and students. The Children’s Hospital University of Illinois named Benjamin Van Voorhees, MD, had of pediatrics and physician-in-chief. St. Therese Chinese Catholic School Principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek earned a Stanly C. Golder Award for Excellence in Leadership from Golden Apple.

The book Chicago Is Not Broke offered plans to solve Chicago’s budget crisis. The City decided to add an annex to the Mark Sheridan Math and Science Academy. Angela Valentino earned the Antoinette “Toni” Di Fiore Scholarship from Our Lady of Pompeii. Tenants at an Archer Avenue Single Residence Occupancy facility battled to save their home.

Sophia King won the 4th Ward aldermanic runoff. The Riverline and 21st Street Lofts developments moved forward in the South Loop.

MAY

Gazette management officially changed the name of the publication to Gazette Chicago to reflect its coverage of articles important to the whole City. The City selected a design for a combined new Roosevelt Branch Library and apartments at Taylor and Ada Streets.

Immanuel Baptist Church filed a lawsuit seeking to force the City to allow it to buy two buildings on Roosevelt Road; the City has been denying permission because it wants the church to provide parking.

Gazette Chicago analyzed Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Park officials planned several open-space innovations for the South Loop area, starting with Grant Park. Developers and townhouse owners worked out an agreement to permit construction of two new highrise apartment buildings at the Medical District Apartments. The Bridgeport community saw infrastructure improvements and business revitalization on Morgan and Halsted Streets.

The Chicago School Board considered making post-high school plans a graduation requirement. With gentrification increasing in Pilsen, families fought eviction proceedings at an apartment building on 21st Street. Notre Dame de Chicago Church added air conditioning to the church building. Ernesto Ponticello, known as the “tailor from Taylor Street,” passed away.

The University of Illinois at Chicago and other universities will provide expertise for the Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop.

JUNE

Planters were removed on Madison Street in the West Loop, to mixed reactions. Rush University Medical Center received neighbors’ approval to move offices into the former National Republic Bank of Chicago building at Harrison Street and Racine Avenue. Golfers’ reactions were divided on proposed Jackson Park, South Shore golf courses merger.

Property Markets Group bought an eight-acre site in Pilsen. The Chicago Center for Arts and Technology opened. More bicycle lanes were planned for the Near West Side and South Loop. South Loop Elementary School was slated to receive $50 million in TF funds for a new building. The West Loop community worked for a new fieldhouse for Skinner Park.

Wrestlers from Chicago Hope Academy won their first-ever sectional title.

JULY

Developers planned a 50-unit expansion of the Roosevelt Square redevelopment project and a 254-unit building in the Medical District Apartments complex. The Chicago Public Schools planned a gradual conversion of National Teachers Academy into a new high school. Investigative reporting showed that Chicago Police were issuing fewer tickets for texting and driving.

Local residents questioned the City’s motives for frequent 18th Street cleaning. Governor Bruce Rauner promised to sign a newly revised Automatic Voter Registration bill. Notre Dame de Chicago’s pastor, Monsignor Patrick Pollard, retired. Gazette Chicago reported on the Boulevard, a free, high quality, post-hospital landing place for people with no home to return to for recuperation.

Holy Family Church, Morning Star Baptist Church, and Second Presbyterian Church all celebrated milestone anniversaries. The Aquinas Literacy Center moved to a building at Hermitage Avenue and 35th St.

AUGUST

CA Ventures bid on a row of long vacant South State Street buildings to create new residential and retail space. Saint Ignatius College Prep announced plans to rebuild and expand athletic facilities. The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, Just Design, and Engineers Without Borders announced that lead in drinking water is a problem in Chicago.

Alderman George Cardenas (12th
Ward) proposed redevelopment of historic McKinley Park buildings. A new riverfront park was considered for the site of the shuttered Fisk power plant. Disney’s Aladdin was performed at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Parking bans were proposed for the South Loop and the West Loop. Queen of Peace High School held a celebration featuring alumni, faculty, Dominican sisters, families, and friends before closing.

SEPTEMBER

The City moved forward on library/housing plans on Taylor Street despite vocal opposition. Opposition stalled the proposed Chinatown Special Services Tax

The book Chicago Is Not Broke: Funding the City We Deserve, edited by Tom Tresser, shared ideas on repairing the City’s finances. Alderman Patrick D. Thompson considered Bridgeport business strip rezoning.

Pastor Cesar Sifuentes joined St. Matthew Lutheran Church. Gazette Chicago’s Mark Valentino, William S. Bike, and Susan Stevens won an Award of Excellence from Communications Concepts for its coverage of the passing of community activist Oscar D’Angelo. A developer who painted over the Casa Aztlan mural said the artwork would be replaced.

Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) came out in favor of a Chicago Public Schools plan for turning National Teachers Academy into a high school.

OCTOBER

The Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association added Mary Baggett of the ABLA Local Advisory Council to its board. River City condominium owners weighed a $100 million buyout offer to convert the building to apartments. Officials from three universities sold the University Center dormitory to a private firm. Rainbow PUSH and other activists pushed back on Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The debate continued over the additional tax in Chinatown to pay for community upgrades. The Chicago Transit Authority decided to continue the 31st Street bus route through March. Community activists demanded rent control and more affordable housing in the area. Plans for the Park Works site and gentrification worried Pilsen residents.

The Rev. Donald Becker, former pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church; the Rev. Michael Flynn of Nativity of Our Lord Church; and Jimmy Tavolino of Pompei Bakery passed away.

NOVEMBER

Two new sports facilities, Wintrust Arena and the MB Ice Arena-Chicago Blackhawks Community Rink, opened. Fulton Market residents objected to plans for narrow alleys. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget called for putting $3 million into enhancing community policing.” Lake Meadows Shopping Center began renovation.

The Arrigo Park Christopher Columbus statue was defaced twice before the annual Columbus Day celebration. The Chicago Transit Authority improved the Illinois Medical District el station. Suspicions mounted over motivations behind the proposed Chinatown Special Services Area (SSA) tax. The University of Illinois at Chicago held its Image of Research competition showing photographs related to scientific research.

Immanuel Baptist Church continued to fight the City’s requirement for it to have a parking lot. Easterseals broke ground on a new Fitness, Wellness, and Recreation Center. Neighbors expressed concerns over parking and traffic near the Wintrust Arena. A dog park was planned for McKinley Park. The City decided to keep recycling bins at 1728 S. Clark St.

DECEMBER

Governor Rauner and the University of Illinois System proposed the Discovery Partners Institute for the South Loop that would include research and tech resources from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Northwestern University. The Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association pondered taking the City to court over a library and apartments proposed for Roosevelt Square.

The City moved forward with plans for a new $95 million combined police and fire training academy. Chinatown community members went to City Hall to discuss a proposed SSA tax. UIC’s men’s soccer team won the Horizon League championship.