Committees push Pilsen, Little Village preservation strategy, five-year housing plan

A city strategy to preserve Little Village and Pilsen’s housing and the mayor’s five-year housing plan were two measures on the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate committee’s agenda on Thursday morning. The two plans were pushed through, albeit with a little controversy, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There was a dispute during the meeting regarding a quorum, according to the newspaper. 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez wanted to postpone the vote because fewer than eight of the committee’s 15 members were present. After a short recess, the meeting went on with six members followed by a vote to approve the items up for discussion.

The committee approved ordinances that amended an Affordable Requirements Ordinance pilot program in Pilsen and Little Village and authorized the city to acquire land for El Paseo trail. Also on the agenda was an ordinance to adopt the mayor’s five-year housing plan. These ordinances were introduced at the last City Council meeting in November.

The mayor’s preservation plan for Pilsen and Little Village comes in part from the city’s effort to stop gentrification ahead of the El Paseo trail project. The strategy details new housing resources to help existing residents avoid displacement caused by gentrification, ways to increase sustainable jobs, and open space improvements to build the neighborhood’s resources.

Another part of the strategy called for the creation of a historic district in Pilsen, which was approved at the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards meeting on Thursday.

The mayor’s five-year housing plan was developed over a seven-month period and based on input from 120 “housing professionals” and around 150 ideas submitted through an online portal, according to the mayor’s office.

The plan includes a $1.4 billion framework that would support 40,000 residential units, invest in affordable rental housing and resources for vulnerable residents, provide tools for neighborhoods facing gentrification, and expand affordable homeownership opportunities. 48th Ward Alderman Osterman shared a presentation with some details on the proposal which can be found on his website.

As part of the mayor’s budget, the housing plan for 2019 to 2023 would be implemented by a new Department of Housing instead of the Department of Planning and Development.

Next week the full City Council will vote on these measures. That meeting will take place at 10 a.m. on December 12.

Nerd out about the World’s Fair at Newberry Library’s symposium

Earlier this fall the Newberry Library underwent a nine-month renovation and around the same time opened a new exhibition on the World’s Columbian Exposition. This weekend, the library will be featuring a day of lectures and panels in conjunction with the event.

The exhibit, Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair, showcases historic photos, drawings, maps, postcards, and souvenirs from the time period. It will be on display through December 31 at the library located at 60 W. Walton Street.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, December 8, the library will host Dr. Lisa Snyder for a discussion about the technology and research behind her digital reconstruction of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition’s White City. Snyder is a director of campus research initiatives at UCLA and the World’s Fair model has been a core part of her research for decades.

Snyder estimates that for every hour of computer modeling, there were at least five hours of research behind it, according to a statement from UCLA when the project was first announced. There were no color photographs at the time, so Snyder sifted through artists’ watercolors to get those details and referenced old horticulture magazines to figure out what seed varietals might have been planted. Synder’s hope is that the model and software will help illuminate a deeper understanding of the fair’s history and spark new questions in classrooms.

Following this presentation, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., a series of other lectures about the 1893 World’s Fair and the International Exposition of 1933 to 1934 will take place. Learn about culture wars in the White City, the Italian influence and the Balbo Monument, and an artist who painted murals for the World’s Fair during the symposium. Find the full schedule of events, which is free and open to the public, on the Newberry Library’s website.

Upper-end home sales boom shows no sign of ending

Two mansions, one in the city and the other in Winnetka, sold for more than $4 million each on Friday, bringing the year-to-date sales total of $4 million-plus homes to 70, or about 35 percent more than the Chicago area’s strongest-ever year in upper-end sales.

With a month remaining, 2018 is already a record year for upper-priced sales. The question now is how much further sales will surge by year’s end.

Last year ended with 46 sales in the $4 million-and-up category in Chicago and the six collar counties. It was the second consecutive year with a tally below the record year, 2015, when 52 homes sold in the super-luxury category, according to Crain’s ongoing tracking of sales.

At this year’s pace of at least five a month, 2018 could end with 75 sales.

But there might be more: A dozen existing homes with asking prices of $4 million or more in the city and suburbs have contracts pending, according to Midwest Real Estate Data. (There are several upper-priced condos marked “pending” in two not-yet-complete towers, Vista in Lakeshore East and One Bennett Park in Streeterville, but those won’t deliver in the next month.)

The boom at the top of the market runs counter to what’s happening in the market overall. In the nine-county metropolitan area, homes sales were down 3 percent year-to-date at the end of October (the latest figures available). Factors in the upper-end boom, agents have said during the year, include big gains early in the year in stock wealth, the availability of premier properties such as North Shore lakefront at discounts, and thephenomenal sales figures at No. 9 Walton, a nearly finished tower in the Gold Coast.

Twenty of the year’s sales so far have been at No. 9 Walton, but that’s not the only source of the year’s increase.

Last week alone, there were three sales at other locations, including a Highland Park mansion that went for $4.2 million, and Friday’s pair of properties.

This tonwhouse built in the 1910s on Lakeview Avenue in Lincoln Park sold for $4.75 million on Friday.

On Lakeview Avenue in Lincoln Park, a 10,000-square-foot townhouse built in the 1910s and recently rehabbed and expanded sold Friday for $4.75 million. That’s about two-thirds of the $7.2 million that rehab firm ReduHome was asking when it listed the project for sale in March. Redu principal Steve Bouwman said he was “happy we sold it to a very nice family” and did not comment on the discounted sale price.

On Hoyt Lane in Winnetka, a four-bedroom house with 112 feet of Lake Michigan beach sold Friday for almost $4.48 million. Built in 1961, the four-bedroom French country-style house was the work of architect Jerome Cerny, who designed many North Shore homes between 1929 and 1970. The house, on more than half an acre, has two decks on the descent to the beach, according to the listing, and classic finishes inside including a curved staircase, wainscoting and crown moldings.

Neither Ginny Grinstead, the @properties agent who represented the sellers, nor Suzanne Myers, the Coldwell Banker agent who represented the buyers, responded to a request for comment. The house came on the market in June with a $5.1 million asking price, which was later cut to $4.7 million.

The Hoyt Lane house is the seventh in Winnetka to sell for $4 million or more so far in 2018, compared to six in all of 2017. The suburbs with the next-highest tallies are Glencoe and Lake Forest, with two sales each.

Public records do not yet identify the buyers of the Hoyt Lane and Lakeview Avenue homes.

Use Divvy bikes through Lyft app soon

This past summer Lyft purchased Divvy’s parent company Motivate, and recently the company announced that the deal has finally closed.

Riders will soon be able to access Divvy bikes by using the Lyft app, according to the announcement. A more thorough look at trip options and other details for the bikes will come later in 2019. For now, Divvy bikes will stay sky blue, but in the near future Divvy will roll out the pink and black Lyft-branded bikes in select cities.

It’s unclear whether Lyft will continue to maintain the Divvy station kiosks or if riders will only be able to purchase passes through the Lyft app. When asked for more information, a representative from Lyft said more details on the change were not available at this time.

Lyft is also working on integrating public transit information directly into the app. It’s already done this for users in Santa Monica. If the feature were to expand to Chicago, riders would be able to see bus lines and L train lines to decide which route is best for their trip, according to Lyft.

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Lyft plans to expand its bikeshare system with thousands of new bikes, scooters and stations across cities where Motivate had established bikeshare programs and more. Motivate operated New York City’s Citi Bikes, San Francisco’s Ford GoBike, Boston’s Bluebikes, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, Portland’s Biketown, Columbus’ CoGo, and Minneapolis’ Nice Ride.

The company also said making membership more affordable and convenient would be a priority too. Currently a single ride on Divvy costs $3, a 24-hour pass with 3-hour rides costs $15, and an annual membership is $99 with more affordable options for low-income residents.

Lyft also plans on deploying electric bikes and scooters, the announcement said. Lyft scooters are already available in Denver and account for 15 percent of rides, according to the company. Lyft scooters are also in Washington D.C., Arlington, Santa Monica, and Austin. No word on when that transportation option will come to Chicago though.

The city wrapped up a dockless electric bike pilot program in November and it looks like other scooters might be on the streets eventually. So Lyft could have some competition when it brings those services to the city.

9 top holiday markets around the U.S.

One of the best parts about living in a city during the holidays is the festive nature of it all: The lights, the decorations, and the hustle and bustle of locals rushing to holiday parties wearing ugly sweaters and weighed down by presents. But another tradition—the outdoor holiday market—has emerged as a key event in cities across America.

Borrowed from the European tradition, the outdoor holiday market is modeled after long-standing events like Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany. Arguably the most famous Christmas market in Europe, Christkindlesmarkt offers more than 180 wooden stands full of handcrafted ornaments, games, and treats and runs from late November to December 24.

The American version looks a bit more contrived and more corporate, sometimes featuring big time sponsors like banks. But the main elements of the European holiday market are there—think twinkling lights, wooden stalls, steaming cups of Gluehwein (mulled hot wine) and most importantly, an outdoor location. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, and in fact, sometimes that’s the point.

If a trip to Europe isn’t in the cards this holiday season—and let’s be frank, for most of us that’s unlikely—don’t fret. We’ve rounded up the 9 best holiday markets around the country, so you too can experience the joy of sipping hot wine on a cold winter night in a city you love. Bonus: Many of the markets are free and all of them are family friendly.

The Union Square Holiday Market in New York City, New York

Located in Union Square Park, this holiday market is a favorite of New York locals thanks to its prime location, warming huts, kids craft station, and live music. It also offers artisan-focused products, some of which are handmade in New York, made from recycled or vintage items, or certified organic. The twinkling lights of the surrounding city don’t hurt the aesthetics, either.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Christmas Village takes over Philadelphia’s City Hall for the first time this year.
Courtesy of Cory J. Popp and via Curbed Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Christmas Village is always a hit each holiday season, but thanks to construction at LOVE Park, the event has been moved to the country’s biggest city building: the Philadelphia City Hall. This year’s Christmas Village features more than 80 outdoor vendors, a carousel, an ice-skating rink, and a winter garden maze at Dilworth Park.

The Christkindl Market in Chicago, Illinois

The Christkindl Market in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Christkindl Market Chicago

This outdoor market in the Chicago Loop offers typical German food and drinks, hot wine, live music, and various vendors selling holiday-themed goods—60% of which are from Germany. Pro tip: try a baked apple and order the kids a Kindergluhwein, a blend of apple and grape juices with the same spices as the adult version.

Downtown Holiday Market, Washington D.C.

Located on F Street in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, locals love that this market is home to more than 150 artists selling jewelry, prints, and holiday cheer. Don’t miss the live music and the hot donuts.

The Christkindl Market in Denver, Colorado

The Christkindl Market at Skyline Park in Denver, Colorado.

Running from November 18 through December 23, the Christkindl Market in downtown Denver offers music, beer, abundant Gluehwein, and decent shopping in the food and craft stands on site. Don’t miss the nearby ice skating rink at Skyline Park.

Christmas Village in Baltimore, Maryland

The Christmas Village in Baltimore.
Courtesy of Christmas Village

Located at the West Shore Park in the Inner Harbor and running until December 24th, this market uses wooden huts to house ornaments, holiday gifts, and plenty of treats.

Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt in Cincinnati, Ohio

The fifth annual Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt brings an authentic German Christmas market to downtown Cincinnati’s Fountain Square through December 18. Although not quite as large as some of the other markets on the list, you’ll still find traditional wood stalls and plenty of hot wine.

Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington, Texas

From November 25 through December 23, the Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington, Texas hosts one of the largest open-air holiday markets in the Southwest. Festival goers can take photos with Santa, tube down a snow-free tubing hill, and partake in traditional German cuisine and gifts.

Christmas City Village and Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley

Head to this eastern Pennsylvania city—coined Christmas City in 1937—for two stellar holiday markets. Christmas City Village (weekends November 16 through December 23) is an authentic German Weihnachtsmarkt located along the city’s Main Street, with local vendors offering up unique presents from wooden huts. Similarly, Christkindlmarkt (weekends November 16 through December 23) showcases aisles of handmade artisanal goods and collectables.

Did we miss your favorite outdoor market? Let us know in the comments.