Here's my question for Joe Moore's challengers, and who I vote for will depend on their answer to this. Feel free to publish, with my name attached, if you like.
Dear 49th Ward Candidates for Alderman:
For residents of the southeast corner of Rogers Park, where a once-thriving shopping street has mostly been reduced to vacant lots, there is one big question that will determine how we vote against Joe Moore:
As Alderman of the 49th Ward, how will you deal with Loyola University?
Joe Moore has long given Loyola whatever it asks for, including more than $30 million in TIF funds to fix up a campus building. While no one would say that Loyola isn't important--it's an economic engine for the area--Loyola is also a force for blight.
Look at the west side of the 6500 block of North Sheridan Road. Heading north from the El Station, we have McDonalds and a branch bank (building owned by Loyola), vacant lot (owned by Loyola), an empty storefront (leased for 99 years by Loyola, driving the street's only cafe, Beck's Bookstore, out), vacant lot (owned by Loyola) Bruno's (only lot not owned or leased by Loyola), Carmen's (building owned by Loyola), two vacant lots (owned by Loyola).
Loyola has taken a thriving commercial strip and blighted it. When they tore down the beautiful buildings at the SW corner of Albion and Sheridan, the student paper reported that they had to be demolished because it would cost too much to bring the buildings up to code. Well, who the hell owned them and neglected them till they were below building code standards? Loyola. This is their bait-and-switch: they let things get run down, then cry "Blight!" Loyola is essentially a slumlord.
The Granada Center and the ludicrously-named "Morgan at Loyola Station" are both Loyola properties (the latter on a 99 year lease to the developer). They're full of empty storefronts and national chain stores instead of local businesses (the relocated cafe-less Beck's being the only exception). Study after study shows that local businesses leave much more money in the local economy than national chains do--but only national chains can afford the high rents charged for new construction. (You have read Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities, haven't you?) It's simply astounding that Loyola students, staff and faculty (and neighbors) have to go down to Granville (Metropolis) to find a decent cup of coffee. The 6500 block of North Sheridan should be a bustling student-shopping strip, with quirky restaurants, bookstores, cafes, boutiques, as it once was--until Loyola bought up buildings and refused to give commercial tenants long-term leases. It's no secret that if they ever managed to buy (or TIF) Bruno's, they'd demolish the whole block and build another concrete monstrosity.
So, how will you handle Loyola? Will you bend over backwards for them as Joe Moore has, or will you stand up to them?
Bill Savage, lifetime resident of the 49th Ward, Loyola Alum (College of Arts and Sciences '86, Summa Cum Laude), and voter who has never missed an election.
28 February 2015, 2.0: Hunkering Down - I give up! I'm not leaving the house again until spring! But at least i won't run out of things to read.