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Members and supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union demonstrate at Union Park on Jan. 5, 2022. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
Chicago Public Schools classes are canceled Thursday as the district and Chicago Teachers Union battle over in-person versus remote learning during the ongoing COVID-19 surge.
Doctor Marina Del Rios from UI Health receives Chicago's first COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Nikhila Juvvadi on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin neighborhood. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/pool)
Tuesday morning's vaccine kicks off what officials say will be a year-long effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated in Chicago to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
AUSTIN — Chicago’s vaccination campaign has officially begun, marking the beginning of the end of the pandemic, officials said.
The city gave its first dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to doctors, nurses and a patient care technician Tuesday morning at Loretto Hospital. It kicked off what officials say will be a year-long effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated in Chicago to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chicago’s First Coronavirus Vaccine Given To Doctor At Loretto Hospital: ‘The Beginning Of What Will Be An End’ Of COVID-19
Influenza vaccination. | DANIEL PAQUET
The vaccine will first go to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. But, over the months, the campaign will grow.
LOGAN SQUARE — Chicagoans could be getting vaccinated as early as next week.
Officials outlined the city’s vaccination plan during a Thursday news conference: It will start with a first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which could arrive next week and will be distributed among the city’s hospitals. The vaccine will first go to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
Avondale's Milwaukee Avenue. MINA BLOOM/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
It's the latest in a long-running battle between the prominent landlord and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who is driving the rezoning plan.
LOGAN SQUARE — A key city committee on Tuesday approved most of the Milwaukee Avenue rezoning plan, an anti-gentrification measure crafted by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) to block dense development along the stretch.
But one set of properties in line to be rezoned was temporarily dropped from the plan after it was revealed the property owner — prolific landlord Mark Fishman — is threatening to sue the city, the latest in a long-standing battle between him and the alderman.
Mark Fishman’s Buildings Dropped From Milwaukee Avenue ‘Downzoning’ Plan After Landlord Threatens To Sue
Patrons purchase beverages from Old Crow Smokehouse's curbside bar on Clark Street in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on June 27, 2020 during the first weekend of Illinois in Phase Four of reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The state's new rules for Chicago include stopping indoor drinking and dining, limiting gathering sizes and putting a curfew on bars and restaurants.
CHICAGO — Bars and restaurants must stop indoor service starting Friday morning, and Chicago is facing other restrictions under new orders from Gov. JB Pritzker.
Chicago is joining six other regions of Illinois under what Pritzker has dubbed “enhanced mitigations.” The mitigations include stopping indoor drinking and dining and imposing an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants.
Chicago's top doctor Dr. Allison Arwady urged people to stop inviting people to their homes as COVID cases soar.
Chicago's averaging 508 new cases per day, a 45 percent increase from just one week ago, though testing has only increased 11 percent.
CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city could bring back the restrictions of Phase 3 if the “second surge” of coronavirus doesn’t turn around.
The surge started this month and has quickly gained steam: Chicago’s averaging 508 new cases per day, a 50 percent increase from the start of October. The city’s positivity rate has also jumped to 5.4 percent; the week before, it was at 4.2 percent.
‘We Are In The Second Surge’: Lightfoot Says Chicago Could Return To Phase 3 As Coronavirus Cases Soar
After more than a year, many Pilsen homeowners want to see a landmark designation voted down in the Lower West Side neighborhood. MAURICIO PEÑA / BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
Neighbors fear a landmark district would increase costs for longtime Latino homeowners, pushing them out of the area.
PILSEN — For nearly two years, city officials have pushed to establish a historic landmark district in parts of Pilsen despite the objection of some neighbors.
Longtime neighbors who oppose the plan argue the designation would stack working-class homeowners with added costs, restrict what owners are able to sell their properties for and lead to more gentrification. But the city has moved forward on the plan anyway, with officials saying the historic designation will prevent booming developments from changing the character of the neighborhood.
The four-story, mixed-use 4400 Grove development on Cottage Grove Avenue in Bronzeville. [Chicago Housing Authority]
The $38 million, 84-unit complex will bring 38 affordable apartments, 21 public housing apartments and 25 market-rate apartments to the old CHA site demolished in 2002.
BRONZEVILLE — Bronzeville residents, elected officials and developers celebrated the grand opening of a 84-unit mixed-income housing complex nearly a decade in the making Thursday.
The 4400 Grove complex, named after the Cottage Grove Avenue block it inhabits, features 38 affordable apartments reserved for those making up to 60 percent of the area median income, or $43,680 annually for a two-person household.
Staffers at 1540 Bar & Grill in Bucktown watch as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces new coronavirus guidelines that will allow bars without food licenses to reopen for indoor service starting Oct. 1 [HANNAH ALANI/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO]
City leaders said the city is making enough progress to contain the spread of coronavirus to allow for looser restrictions on dining out and in-person activities beginning Thursday.
CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is easing coronavirus restrictions on bars, restaurants, salons and fitness centers, saying the city has made sufficient progress in fighting the pandemic.
Bars can reopen for indoor service starting Thursday, the mayor announced Monday. Restaurants can allow up to 40 percent capacity, up from 25 percent. Both can serve customers until 1 a.m.
Coronavirus Restrictions Being Eased In Chicago: Bars Can Serve Inside Again, Restaurants Can Be 40 Percent
The park district’s proposal aims to build an 88,000-square-foot office space, a field house, playground, spray pool and three artificial turf fields on 17 acres at 4800 S. Western Ave., shifting the current headquarters from Streeterville.
In response to community feedback, the Park District added a teen center to the field house, and a new traffic signal and crosswalk at Western Avenue and 48th Place. The plan also includes two fitness centers and a gym with a full-sized basketball court, according to city officials.
Guests also can expect a green roof with more than 30 varieties of plants, more than 200 parking spaces and bicycle parking, officials said at the meeting.
John Ronan Architects has been contracted to design the new headquarters.
Planning commissioners lauded the project for bringing an amenity-filled complex to the underserved neighborhood.
Commissioner Maurice Cox called it “by far one of the most transformational investments” the city has made in the Brighton Park neighborhood.
Plan Commission approves a new @ChicagoParks headquarters at 48th and Western in #BrightonPark. It includes a two-story, 88,000-square-foot office that will replace the agency's current HQ in Streeterville, as well as adjacent park space and a fieldhouse on a large, 17-acre site. pic.twitter.com/IPnsrR2xm9
— Chicago DPD (@ChicagoDPD) September 17, 2020
RELATED: Park District Headquarters’ Move To Brighton Park Means New Fields, A Spray Pool And More
The Chicago Park District sold its headquarters to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for $22.5 million in 2015.
City officials unveiled the plan to move the headquarters from Downtown to Brighton Park in 2018. At the time, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the move would bring 200 existing jobs along with “much-needed recreational assets” to the South Side neighborhood.
Brighton Park was selected out of 20 possible locations because it is one of the top five community areas in need of open space, city officials said, and because of the site’s close proximity to the Western Orange Line and the Western bus route.
No price tag for the facility has been revealed. Park District Supt. Michael Kelly said officials are working to secure more funding for the project.
While the project was well-received, some commissioners raised concerns the project could result in gentrification-fueled displacement.
“What we don’t want is to end up with this beautiful park but all of the Latinos pushed out of the neighborhood, commission chair Teresa Córdova said.
“We need to make sure this park does not result in the gentrification of this neighborhood. They deserve these amenities, too.”
Upon City Council approval, Park District officials said they hope to start construction this winter.
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Chicago Park District’s Plan For New Brighton Park Headquarters Lands Endorsement From Plan Commission
The city hopes two new programs can help homeowners get rid of lead service lines — but it will take years and billions to remove all of the pipes in Chicago.
CHICAGO — The city will soon begin to help residents who want to get rid of lead water lines, with a focus on people who are low-income.
There are about 380,000 lead service lines in Chicago, many of them used by single-family and two-flat homes, according to the city. It will take years and cost an estimated $8.5 billion for all of those lines to be replaced — but the city’s new initiative will allow homeowners to kickstart the process and cut down on how much it will cost them.
Lead Water Pipes Can Be Replaced For Free For Low-Income People As City Starts Process Of Removing Them
Teachers and parents pushed back against the district's plan to have most kids in school for two days per week.
CHICAGO — The city’s public schools will start the year Sept. 8 with all kids taking online, remote classes, officials announced Wednesday, reversing a previous decision to begin with some in-class instruction.
The move comes after weeks of pushback from teachers, parents and community members, who worried the district’s plan — to have a hybrid model where most kids would spend at least a few days in school — would expose children, families and faculty to coronavirus.
The city has started to fine people for not following its quarantine rules after returning from other states.
Supporters of a planned Emmett Street affordable housing complex say they aren’t worried about a lawsuit filed by a group of Logan Square property owners that aims to block the development.
The lawsuit, filed by prolific Northwest Side landlord Mark Fishman among others, takes aim at city leaders and the nonprofit Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, which plans to begin construction this year on a seven-story, all-affordable complex at 2602-38 N. Emmett St.
Lawsuit from Logan Square landlords aims to stop affordable development — but it won’t work, officials say
Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned on a promise to reverse decades of disinvestment on Chicago’s South and West sides — and when she took office, she found a nearly $57 million pot of money earmarked for just that purpose.
Stung by accusations that Chicago’s neighborhoods languished on his watch, Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund in 2016 in an attempt to capitalize on the boom Downtown and in the West Loop by giving developers the green light to build taller and denser projects — for a price.
Mayor Lightfoot tours 345 Art Gallery with owner Corry Williams PASCAL SABINO / BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
Applications are now open through the end of February for $10 million in new business development grants provided by the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program.
The grants will be a driving force behind Mayor Lori Lighfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative to support equitable development in commercial corridors on the South and West sides. The city recently unveiled changes to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program that aim to make the program more accessible to the businesses that could benefit most from the money.
A proposed ordinance aimed at curbing gentrification along The 606's Bloomingdale Trail was reintroduced at City Council this week.
[Alisa Hauser/DNAinfo Chicago]
It’s official: Chicago is hitting the pause button on demolitions along The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail in just a couple of weeks.
More than 300 cities and 55 countries around the world have banned single-use plastics in an effort to reduce the millions of pounds of plastic trash clogging our lakes and oceans.
Chicago could be next.
On Wednesday, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10) introduced an ordinance that looks to significantly cut down how many plastic forks, plates and spoons are doled out by restaurants and other businesses in the city.
A proposed ordinance being pushed by the City Council's Black Caucus to delay recreational weed sales until July 1 will be discussed at a hearing Wednesday.
While the hearing will force the measure into the spotlight, the proposed ordinance is not set to be voted on or advanced to the full City Council. Without Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s support, the proposal is considered a long shot to be taken up for a vote in a separate committee meeting and advanced to the full City Council on Dec. 18.
The group’s chairman, Ald. Jason Ervin (28), said the caucus is concerned about the lack of minority ownership in the nascent industry.
RELATED: Dispensary Lottery So White: With No Black Owners In The Mix, Black Caucus Could Move To Stall Weed Sales
Ervin said the absence of African-American owners at the city’s dispensary lottery last month was alarming. Operators who did participate in the lottery chose to open recreational dispensaries in largely black neighborhoods on the Southeast and Far South Sides last or not at all, he noted.
Medical marijuana companies were granted the first wave of recreational marijuana licenses. The rollout process is outlined by new state law passed under Gov. JB Pritzker.
Introduced at City Council Oct. 16, the proposed ordinance to halt recreational weed sales was referred to the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity. That committee, chaired by Ald. Carrie Austin (34), has not met on its own since being formed by new Mayor Lori Lightfoot in May, although it did hold a joint-committee meeting with the Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight in October.
Lightfoot doesn’t support the Black Caucus’ push, mayoral spokesperson Lauren Huffman said.
“While we share many of the same goals as the Black Caucus in terms of creating equity in this new industry, the Mayor cannot support the ordinance in question, as delaying sales in Chicago would only fuel black market activities and diminish funding available to future social equity applicants,” Huffman said.
Ervin said he will wait until after the hearing to decide how to proceed. He said he isn’t resigned about the proposed ordinance’s chances of advancing to a City Council vote.
“I think we need to see what happens at the hearing,” Ervin said. “I’m not resigned to that. We’re having a meeting on Dec. 4 and Council is supposed to meet on the 18th. A lot can change from now [to] then.”
In addition to the 20 member Black Caucus co-sponsoring the measure, two other aldermen, Raymond Lopez (15) and James Cappleman (46), told Block Club they would join in support if it were to ever come up for a vote. “They’re trying to find a way for this new industry to be fair and equitable,” Lopez said.
“If they are standing unified for this,” Cappleman said, he will “support them with my vote.”
“When I see every single person in the Black Caucus all voting for something and I’m inclined not to, it gives me pause to think, what are they seeing that I’m not seeing as a caucasian man. So I listen very carefully to what the Black Caucus says, they have a viewpoint that I think needs to be highlighted,” Cappleman said.
Cappleman referenced the lottery that took place Nov. 15 where cannabis operators selected to locate in one of the seven cannabis zones as their names were selected.
“A disproportionate number of caucasians are getting licenses and again the African American community is getting left out. If you want to address the tale of two cities, we’re going to have to address the lack of equity.” Cappleman said.
Ald. Andre Vasquez (40), who co-sponsored the mayor’s bill that established zoning rules for recreational dispensaries, said the lottery gave him pause. But he doesn’t support delaying the date of recreational cannabis sales.
“Looking at the way the lottery went, it does affect my thinking on it as well. So I’m always open to have the conversation.” he said, “As a person of color, of course you’re going to feel a certain kind of way about it.”
“However, I do not agree with stopping it until July 1,” Vasquez said. “We actually could be worse off by doing that, because those licenses could then go to the suburbs, and the city could miss out on chances to earn revenue that’s needed.”
Rather than a ban on sales, Vasquez suggested other ways to address the lack of equity.
“I think where we can find social equity is in the public consumption licenses,” and making sure that the businesses that get those licenses, “have employee ownership agreements or project labor agreements where they’re allowed the ability to unionize,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez also suggested creating a city program to allow those who run an illegal cannabis business to become legitimate, legal entrepreneurs.
Vasquez said he understands the desire to delay sales, but he has doubts that would result in a greater number of minority-owned dispensaries.
“If we started in July, and the social equity players get in, my gut tells me we’re going to find a lot of white owned businesses that know how to check the boxes to meet social equity requirements,” he said.
Austin was placed in charge of the newly created Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity in May after Lightfoot removed her as Chair of the Committee on Budget and Government Operations.
Despite being under federal investigation, Austin has regularly attended City Council meetings. She has not been charged with a crime and has said she is innocent of any wrongdoing.