Ponzi thinks he’s seen the future and that it doesn’t look good for Alderman Ann Rainey’s efforts to launch new up-scale enterprises in buildings she persuaded the city to buy on Howard Street.

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  1. Wine bar

    I'm not sure that this wine bar will work out…

    but can someone tell me why this is any worse than maintaining the North Branch library?

    I might actually go to a wine bar…..and the City could possibly recoup its investment in the wine bar.

    If the north side aldermen are going to keep their wasteful branch library, the 8th Ward should have a nice wine bar.

    1. Wine bar or Whine bar

      It is going to take more than a couple of wasteful city investments in soon to be failed businesses to improve the 8th ward along howard street.

      The only way the wine bar will make it is if the city allows them to sell cheap wine along with a brown paper bag. Nobody is going to walk 5 blocks from the El in a very bad neighborhood to go to a wine bar. This is also true of a theatre on howard.

      Another "right on the mark" cartoon.

      1. Wow!


        OMG!! That has to be the most self served comment I have read on this subject. Cheap wine in a brown paperbag! What type of despicalbe person would write such a comment?

        Must be nice living in that little bubble of yours where everything within your eye shot is such happy joy joy. Perhaps sharing some of the joy you have with those who live near Howard? Of course you'll need to catch us when we're not sipping our Mad Dog 20/20 out of our little brown paper baggies.

        1. You must be a resident of the area

          There is nothing wrong with a brown paper bag and cheap wine. Boone's Farm is the only wine I will drink.
          My point is 85% of new businesses fail within the first 2 years for a number of reasons: This business might succeed but it is not likely and is a waste of taxpayer’s money. But our mayor and council people don't appear that they are wasting somebody else's money.

          Things that will make this a failure:

          1) The people opening this business have no experience in business.

          2) The people opening this business have little operating capital. It appears that the city is paying most of the upfront expenses.

          3) It is a high crime neighborhood. The city had to put a police outpost there just to try to hold down the crime. Across the street in Chicago is also a high crime neighborhood. The infection cannot be cured on one side of the street. I feel sorry for most of the people who live there because of the small number of people that commit the crimes.

          4) There is little parking available and public transportation is not safe at night in that area.

          5) Then there is that awful blue strobe light on the Chicago side that would scare people away.

          Let's face it. It is a low income area. The people who live in the neighborhood are the people who will need to support this business and they are not going to pay wine bar prices. They left-winged progressive council members may be there at grand opening but you will not see them tipping the glass much longer.

          Even a blind man can see that this is a waste of our money.

          1. News Flash: Life South of Oakton Exists

            There are many people in South Evanston who love thier neighborhood dearly, use businesses on Howard and aren't low income.  Lots of us shop at the Dominicks in the shopping center on Clark and Howard.  We eat at Hop Haus (owned by the Leona's folks) and Ethiopian Diamond.  Let's not forget about Apple the Second and the wonderful Howard St Animal Hospital.  There is a bakery opening up in the 600 block and a theatre is also possibly going to call Howard St home.  Plus, there is Sweet Nick's, the Fish Keg and some really yummy Jamaican joints a little further east.

            So my point is, there are many people who are excited to have a business like this coming to Howard and don't find it silly on the city's part to make this sort of investment in our dynamic and diverse neighborhood. 

          2. Yep I am an 8th Ward’r

            You guess it, I am an 8th warder.

            I gotta hand it to you. I am impressed by the way you tried to spin your response to your statement of the brown paper bag. Are you trying to suggest to us that you drink your wine from a brown paper bag? And because of that saying such a thing wasn't' offensive?

            So let's move on. Although I don't agree with most of them, your concerns are valid and hold enough merit for discussion.

            1. You stated these people have no experience in business. Question; Do you know them? Are you aware of their background? Have you read their business plan? Have you met them and or held any discussion with them about their plans?

            2. You stated they have no operating capital. Question; Have you read the proposal to the Council? Once again, have you read their business plan? If you have, you will see the details and also see that their in deep themselves.

            3. You stated the area has high crime rate and the infection (I love your choice of a colorful word there) cannot be cured by just one side. Question; Are you aware of the well orgainized grass roots neighborhood groups that exist in south evanston? Are you aware that since their formation the crime rate has actually gone down faster compared to other parts of the city? Are you aware of the same type of groups that exist with our neighbors to the south? Are you aware of the Howard Business Association that was formed over a year ago? Are you aware of the Aldermans efforts to close up store front churchs along Howard to help promote a more business freindly enviroment?

            4. You stated that awful blue lights will scare people away. Question; Have you driven around Evanston lately? Have you driven around Andersonville, Lakeview/ Lincoln Park/ Downtown Chicago? They seem to be everywhere these days. If people are scared of them then these people aren't going out anywhere.

            5. You stated that people in the area won't pay wine bar prices. No question this time, only a statement. When they open, I'll ask them if they'll do brown paper bag takeouts. That way, you'll have a reason to come down and join us for a drink or two. That's of course if I can only get the cops to turn off those scary blue lights.


          3. You have the right to speak your opinion

            You have the right to your opinion and I mine. Keep expressing yourself, this constitutional right along with others has been slipping away over the last 3 years.

            Since the deed is done, I hope the wine bar succeeds. I would like the city to break the string of bad decisions with our tax dollars.

            I hope the neighborhood continues to improve. I have noticed that the daily police reports for that area have not been as high recently. Most of the increase in crime appears to be coming from the Dodge corridor from Dempster to Church. Also, it appears that much of the more serious crime in Evanston seems to be coming from people who live in near-north Chicago.

            I wish you the best and I do not hold a grudge against you because of your weak effort to mock me. Most of the people on this blog appear to agree with me but I realize that this board is not a representation of all of Evanston.

            I would rather see this money go to a wine bar than see money spent for an unnecessary new school.

            Good luck to you.

    2. Two wrongs don’t make a right

      Both are unnecessary/wasteful (libraries are approaching obsolescence), but two wrongs don't make a right and its still foolish/irresponsible to spend tax payer money on private businesses.

  2. Right on Ponzi

    I personally will never visit a wine bar in that area on Howard street and am embarrased that people would even suggest that a bar is a better use of a tax payer money than a library. 

    1. I personally will never visit a wine bar

      Maybe they will serve fancy  cheese and Carr's water crackers (the cracked pepper flavor).  If they let us bring our Kindles and Nooks to the bar, we could download books from the library while eating our fancy cheese and water crackers and sipping Australian and French  wine. 

      Would you visit then?

      1. Wine bars=not places to read

        No- I don't go to wine bars to read books, do you?

        I wouldn't go to a wine bar in this out of the way place, where there is limited street parking at best. I'm not going to ride my bike, or walk 5 miles across town, and if I"m dressed up for a nice place like this says it will be, I don't want to take the El.

        If I"m going to deal with all those hassles, I"ll head downtown instead.

        Unless of course this young couple happens to create the most swanky place north of Howard street that pulls the hip crowds away from Union Pizza/Space and The Cellar to their doors- That's a pretty big IF with my tax money, especially considering the two owners have no restaurant ownership experience.

  3. Gimme me a break!

    I at least give her credit for trying to clean up and bring a bit of upscale to the area.  If she cleans up the street and gets viable businesses running, what is the problem.  I'd rather see my tax dollars go to fixing up Howard street than keep the Township, or build a new school that isn't necessary.

    1. No credit for spending our money without our consent

      I would not give her credit for spending other people's money, who had no consent in the matter, to give favorable treatment for a private enterprise. If she really wants to attract business to Howard, they should lower the tax burden/bureaucracy so businesses find it attractive without stealing from us tax payers. This is a small scale attempt at central economic planning, which hasn't fared well in the past.

  4. The wine bar could expand

    The wine bar could expand to a coffee house as well…and be open in the day. 

    and, it's next door to the police out post, which sort of assures that the ambience will be pleasant and safe. 

    And…Bucktown was coolest when it was in its pre-gentrification stage.

  5. What?

    "The only way the wine bar will make it is if the city allows them to sell cheap wine along with a brown paper bag."

    Wow, incredible. Many South Evanston residents would be happy to have entertainment such as a wine bar and theater in our own neigborhood. I applaud this effort.

  6. What to do about Howard Street – for the last 40 years
    Howard Street, many times have I followed thy sidewalks! Starting back in the 1970’s I lived just north of Howard on Custer. This was the time when the Milk Jug and Hi Neighbor were in business. Then later I lived just south of it at Damen and Fargo in Rogers Park. Then later I lived three blocks north of it on Ashland. Then later on Harvard Terrace just north of the Skokie Swift. Four different residences over half a century.

    Now I’m in north Evanston, but still hit Howard cause I love that Popeye’s chicken and Bill’s chocolate malts.

    In all this time, Howard has been a problem, frequented by the police. Many things have been done and money spent to help the area out. Storefront improvements, banners, signs, the big lighted signs on either side of the METRA viaduct that are great at catching overly high trucks before they hit the old viaduct. Most amazing to me was the new Howard El station – I endured the smell of urine and the littered, pigeon infested bus shelter for decades for that station to happen and now that I no longer ride the El to work, it’s in. Darn.

    But Howard St. has remained Howard St. where people hang out and, though I never hesitated to walk the street to get home even in the wee hours, I certainly can understand why many would feel very uneasy doing so.

    It’s not that people aren’t involved and nobody cares – there are plenty of active Howard Street neighbors. God knows Ann Rainey has been on the case.

    But I wonder what has been accomplished. It’s a low income area. Is it within the capacity of the city to change that?

    This wine bar seems like just another chapter in the never-ending story of trying to “do something about Howard”. It reminds me of the situation of the schools. The schools can’t go into homes and change the environment for learning, but at the same time the schools MUST make lots of plans and be seen to be active working on the problem of the ever present “gap” that keeps open but does make administrative careers. To not do so brings the accusation that the schools don’t care.

    So the schools always have a plan and the city keeps doing this and that on Howard. Money gets spent, people can say they are trying…but what is accomplished?

  7. Howard Street—Chicago or Evanston Problem ?

    I don't recall anyone saying so, but the assumption may be that the Howard Street 'problem' is a Chicago problem.

    While there are definitiely problems from Chicago, Evanston has not cleaned up its problems.  Look at the crime reported from Chicago/Howard to Ridge and north to Oakton or even Main.  Yes there are a number of very nice properties and very good residents in this area but try to draw a map of where you would advise friends to move to—it is a messy map.

    Evanston needs to address its crime rate before trying to just put businesses in there—esp. BARS !

    Look what it took to build up the area on North Ave. from LaSalle to Clybourn or along Wells in Chicago.  It took many year and mostly getting a significant number of 'yuppies' to buy and build.  If that happened in that area you can imagine the howls about pushing the low income residents out. 

    'Build it and they will come' does not always work.

  8. Ann Rainey’s 8th ward quick topic and its readers

    Ann is selectively telling her readers of the 8th ward quick topic, this is all TIF money,  looks to me in Bill's story they are using GO bonds, if I understand correctly these are not out of TIF funds.

    There appears to be quite a few sources of funding.  Also TIF funds to council members mean we can do what ever we want with the money, they always pay a consultant to tell them that, so if they screw up they are off the hook.

    Some are suggesting the applicants for the bar, are using their own money? Really?  Looking at Bill's story, I do not see much of their capital if any in the Bar. Buying the food and liquor is not mcuh capital to me.

    The issue of this Bar is NOT Howard Street, The issue of this Bar is how the taxpayer's funds are being used to fund almost the entire business!  If the applicants were using their own funds to open this and pay for everything it would be a non- issue!    Any use of OUR money is Our business.

    What does the city plan to recover if this business fails,  Maybe Wally can use the bar fixtures in the Aldermanic library, or his office? ( over $100,000 of our money )

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