LOGAN SQUARE — The year was definitive for Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Avondale as rapid change in the area's residential and commercial landscape were marked by ongoing development projects.
Logan Square, in particular, saw an explosion in new buildings and restaurants — the latter earning it a reputation as one of Chicago’s hippest hoods, but at too high a price for some.
But it wasn't all contentious — thanks in large part to a dedicated contingent of community organizers, artists, clergy and everyday residents who continue to gather around the neighborhood's most important issues.
Here are some of the stories locals were talking about this year.
1. The End of the Milshire
The old Single Room Occupancy hotel evicted its low- to no-income tenants, shuttered its doors and was sold to Logan Square’s uber-developer M. Fishman & Co. all in a span of seven months. Not only was it the site of summer protests, a rampant bedbug infestation and a lawsuit, it will in all likelihood become an upscale establishment in the neighborhood, if Mark Fishman’s renovation of the Logan Theater is any indication.
Fishman made news several times over as claims of censorship marked his tenure at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival — eventually culminating in Fishman’s resignation from I AM Logan Square. Fishman has yet to state his intentions for the Milshire, leaving the hotel’s future uncertain even as its formerly transient tenants spread across the city in search of affordable housing as an alternative to homelessness.
2. Milwaukee Ave. vs. Milwaukee Ave.
But the Milshire was by no means the only Milwaukee Avenue establishment undergoing transformation. A slew of new restaurants and commercial concepts continue to flood the street from California Avenue in Logan Square to Diversey Avenue in Avondale. It’s a development footprint that will inevitably impact future days of the once middle- to low-income neighborhood.
Arguably none so divisive or downright large as the “Twin Tower” market-rate residential proposal at the intersection of California and Milwaukee avenues — the 11- and 15-story towers are a sign of the times to some and sign of coming apocalypse to others, leaving many to wonder if change will come whether the neighborhood is ready or not.
Other notable newcomers to Milwaukee Avenue include: Luxury juice bar Owen + Alchemy, Q-Tine, the upcoming Crown Liquors replacement, the future Logan’s Crossing (proceeded by the infamous Logan Square Mega Mall), Slippery Slope and East Room. Basically everything but a grocery store.
3. Hot Doug's
The Avondale hot dog stand announced its closure back in May and DNAinfo Chicago was first on the scene. The announcement from owner Doug Sohn was followed by months of stories and special treats leading up to Hot Doug's last day in October, including a mid-line wedding, a string of proud Hot Doug's tattoos, several tribute menu items, a documentary and an endless stream of rave reviews, etc. After 13 years in business, there's little more to say about Hot Doug's — aside from the fact that the encased meats emporium is will continue to be missed.
4. That Booming Humboldt Park Block
Lump one “artistic developer,” several incoming restaurateurs and the closing of a beloved café onto one block and you begin to see a pattern in Humboldt Park that Logan Square is all too familiar with. The intersection of California and Augusta is the site of not one but at least four new restaurants and bars — a mass renovation that left Knockbox Café without home.
The intersection is a real-time look into a rolling turnover as high-profile restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff opened a renovated California Clipper and is in the process of planning a restaurant directly across the street, in addition to a pie shop, a restaurant and an undisclosed project simultaneously set to move in separately.
This is a block to watch — and in a year’s time it could be nearly unrecognizable from the present day.
5. Riot, Festival
The annual Riot Fest once again turned Humboldt Park into a mosh pit this September. This year the fest’s footprint covered nearly the entire park at a cost of $182,000 in damages, more than three times more than the previous year. The festival enjoyed the support of Humboldt Park alderman and property developer Roberto Maldonado, but many residents continue to question whether it's worth the annual destruction.
Riot Fest organizers promised to not only repair the park, but to establish community support in the meantime, both of which they followed through on.
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