UPTOWN — Ald. James Cappleman (46th) announced Monday the release of his "Ward Master Plan," a document his office said "provides a framework that guides decision-making," in his ward, which includes most of Uptown and a stretch of Lakeview.
The first plan was crafted the year the rookie alderman took office and succeeded former Ald. Helen Shiller, who stepped down as ward boss after 24 years in office. His 2013 revision comes just as Cappleman is about halfway through a four-year term that has included a lot of controversy so far in 2013 related to affordable housing and social services.
A news release from the alderman's office touted millions of development dollars secured for the ward by Cappleman and praised the revised plan for giving "a clearer description of some of the issues such as homelessness and affordable housing," and offered assurances that "clear action plans have been developed to address those issues."
“This Ward Master Plan sheds light on the depth of the issues that don’t always get discussed and can be difficult to address honestly and completely,” Cappleman said in the release. “And then it forges real solutions to those problems.”
The document echoes a stance that in March got Cappleman into a dustup with the Salvation Army mobile outreach unit that feeds homeless people near the lakefront in Uptown, after he was accused of pushing the unit out of the neighborhood.
The plan said that Cappleman "is working with the Mayor’s Office to propose the establishment of an umbrella organization to oversee the delivery of all social services providing homeless outreach," to avoid duplication of services and fill service gaps.
"While it remains controversial on whether or not there are too many or too few social services in the 46th Ward, the focus needs to remain on ensuring that the entire city is making the best use of its limited resources," the plan said.
Cappleman’s plan delves into the affordable housing issue, saying distressed buildings that in the past catered to low-income residents and received government subsidies now face a dilemma with government funds drying up and private developers "now finding it more profitable to sell their buildings rather than use government funds to rehab them." The plan also points out that accepting government money "kicks in many additional requirements (i.e. ADA compliancy, etc.), which makes it more expensive.”
The Chateau Hotel, 3820-3838 N. Broadway; the Norman, 1325 W. Wilson Ave.; and Lawrence House, 1020 W. Lawrence Ave., are three single-room occupancy buildings listed as examples of how market-rate developers become the last resort for such buildings.
Except for Lawrence House, which is being shopped around, the other two buildings have been bought by developers with plans to gut the buildings, rehab them and hike rents — something that has caused a lot of ire in the local activist community.
Cappleman's plan also discusses the Wilson Men’s Club Hotel, a so-called “cubicle hotel” with 7-foot-by-7-foot rooms, chicken-wire ceilings and rents as low as $80 a week, that he has put pressure on the owner to improve.
According to the document, Cappleman is working with the owner and mayor’s office “on a plan to upgrade the facility," of largely low-income, older men, "while keeping the rents at an affordable rate for the current residents," and helping them address their "psychosocial, health and financial needs.”
The plan also focuses on public safety, noting that crime is decreasing in most of the 46th ward, but that pockets of crime persist in some areas. Ten people were shot last month in Uptown, and eight of them were shot near the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Sheridan Road.
"The history of the area," according to Cappleman's document, "has been that there are a few areas in the ward with high rates of crime, which lends to a higher perception of crime throughout the overall 46th Ward."
The alderman's plan lists a three-pronged approach to public safety in the area, focusing on "problem buildings, crime hot spots and frequent offenders."
The full ward plan goes much more in-depth than this summary and also includes sections on population demographics, economic development, tax increment finance districts, education, parks and transportation.
For the full "Ward Master Plan," click here.