NEAR WEST SIDE — The city's changing ward map has prompted one veteran alderman to find new digs, given that the ward office he's had for the last 10 years in Noble Square will no longer be in the heart of his ward once the new map takes effect in 2015.
"I have been through two remaps. Each time the map changes, I try to move my office to a central area. I want to move where I can be accessible to the new people in the ward, where it's central," said Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th).
About two weeks ago, Burnett closed his longtime office at 1463 N. Chicago Ave. in Noble Square, and relocated to storefront at 2400 W. Madison St. on the Near West Side.
Reached by phone Thursday, Burnett said that his new office in an historic building, once home to a Steinway Drug Store, was where his parents met more than 50 years ago.
"My dad worked as a clerk there when he was 18 or 19, and my mom lived around the corner," Burnett said, adding that he plans to dedicate the office to his father, who died shortly before Burnett was elected to office in 1995.
In Noble Square, Burnett had been renting a 1,800 square-foot storefront at 1463 W. Chicago Ave, since 2003. Burnett's presence in the neighborhood was well-known, largely because of the storefront's patriotic red-white-and-blue awning.
Emblazoned with the words, "Ald. Burnett, Jr. of the 27th Ward says Let's stay strong as a nation, Let's stay clean as a community," the awning includes stars and a U.S. flag.
"I can't put a banner like [the old one] up because the new building is a landmark building. But I will have a lit sign in the window and another sign with the story of [my] dad being there," Burnett said.
Burnett said he chose the new office location because it is close to a CTA Blue Line "L" stop, and the Madison and Western buses.
As for the 1400 block of West Chicago Avenue, only the south side of the street is in the new 27th Ward. The north side of Chicago Avenue will be in Ald. Joe Moreno's 1st Ward once the remap takes effect in 2015.
Burnett said he will miss the restaurants on Chicago Avenue, as well as the people.
"We had regular folks that came in every day and said hello. A lot of good people on that block," Burnett said.
The new ward remap extends the 27th Ward farther south and west, and is bordered by North Avenue to the North, Roosevelt Road to the south, Clark Street to the east and Avers Avenue to the west.
Burnett's October newsletter describes the new 27th Ward as "one of the most diverse in the city," with 43 precincts and several neighborhoods and corridors, including East Garfield Park, the West Loop, Old Town, West Humboldt Park, the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, and UIC Medical District, among others.
Burnett plans to host an Open House on Dec. 19 for the new 27th Ward office, at 4 N. Western Ave. The front of the building is at 2400 W. Madison St. For more information, call 312-432-1995