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As I See It . . . Fall/Winter 1999-2000
By Mike Glasser, President, Rogers Park Builders Group
Mike Glasser Head ShotSince moving back to the community two months ago, my dog Shorty and I have begun rediscovering Rogers Park. We had a particularly interesting experience the other day, while driving to a friend’s house to watch some post Thanksgiving football. Not wanting to go-empty-handed, we made a few stops along the way. First, we went to Caribbean Bakery, on Howard Street, for a few quick meat pies (if you’ve not tried them before, you are missing out on something). Unfortunately, there was a five-minute wait so we picked up some fresh bread and moved on, stopping at the Rogers Park Fruit Market. After we picked up some fresh fruit, we continued south to Touhy and Clark and couldn’t resist the temptation. To Shorty’s (and my)delight, Romanian had yet to close for the Shabbat, allowing us to buy their flavorful pastrami and smoked turkey. (Imaging doing this, the day after Thanksgiving).
What a pity. When I got to my friend’s house after half-time, to discover that everyone had already eaten.
This experience points out a unique feature about our community. Each of these shops (and many others) is a long-term Rogers Park classic, offering quality and a special aura that make shopping there a fun and exciting experience. How many other parts of Chicago, or in the country, offer such an array of shopping options all located within a few blocks of each other? Other ethnically diverse communities usually have several blocks separating one ethnic community from another. But in East Rogers Park, the diversity is reflected almost storefront to storefront.
Let’s reflect on this as Rogers Park enters a new era of retail development. Soon, Gateway Plaza will be in business, with the long-awaited opening of a major grocery chain, Dominick’s, followed by construction of sites for retail, a multiplex cinema, and the tie-in between the shopping plaza and the CTA/bus lines. The Howard Theatre project is also nearing completion, with the facade beautifully restored, and the developer actively leasing the storefronts. The Rogers Park Builders Group actively supports these projects, and we congratulate all of those who have made them happen. At the same time we recognize the challenge and immense opportunity that the developers face. We in the Builders Group aren’t privy to specific plans for leasing space, nor is it prudent for these plans to be made public while the parties are still negotiating. But we are confident that the neighborhood lease makers are aware that the demographics for the neighborhood are sound, with high median income (even if you don’t include the cemetery).Howard Street can support stable vibrant retailers, restaurants and other entertainment venues that reflect the diverse nature of our neighbor-hood, which I alluded to above, and which can properly serve our residents and those in the communities surrounding us.