Elly’s: 101 North Demystified

By Madeline Cohen Co-Editor-in-Chief “Luxurious. Classic. Refined. 33 large, luxurious homes at the intersection of Chicago’s best neighborhood.” The signs were plastered above the Elly’s and the theater weeks ago, but frankly, Latin really hasn’t given them a second thought. This is mostly because nobody really has any clue what’s going on; we’ve been given a couple of signs with vague adjectives and a vague date that has no significance unless we know what it means. And nobody’s filling us in. Here’s 101 North, demystified. It‘s designed to be built out of limestone and have an old-time look, fitting for the neighborhood. “Large and luxurious,” units range from 2,679 to 3,448 square feet complete with a price tag from $1.8 to $3 million. The time frame for the project is only 13 months, even including demolition time, leaving the entire process completed by “Spring 2017.”   But the real question lies, beyond the numbers, in how Latin will be affected by the new building. First of all, say goodbye to Elly’s. While the Village Theater will remain intact (although its upper level will attach to the condos,) Elly’s and the shops along North Ave. will be bulldozed. And while the first floor of the new building will be used as retail space, Elly’s isn’t an option. At a town hall meeting, when asked if another restaurant could take Elly’s place on that first floor, building developer Howard Wiener responded, “In all likelihood, no. The land is being purchased from Potash brothers, who have stipulated that there be no restaurant in the new building. Also, because of the Latin School, no liquor can be served at that corner. Even an Elly’s-type restaurant would be our last choice, mostly because people don’t want to live above a restaurant.” What will take its place? “We are thinking in terms of a bank or a medical facility or a spa,” he commented.   Zoning laws in the area say that a building can have a maximum height of 80 feet. After months of contestation and appeals to aldermen, however, the building was given permission to reach 105 feet. “The building needs to give a good impression, to have ‘presence,’ to stand out. At 80 feet, it would work well as a rental building, but not as a condominium building. It should be higher than the Latin School,” said Howard at the meeting. While this is a more superficial concern, the condos will change the way we at Latin see anything to our west. It will present significant physical change to the area around us, even if that’s something as simplistic as the change of view out of a classroom window. Given our freedom to leave the building, Latin’s campus extends beyond the school’s walls, and the community around us becomes a part of our educational experience. That community will now include a 10-story condominium and over 30 new families we’ll get to call our neighbors. There are plans to narrow Clark by 2 feet to expand the sidewalk and make room for increased foot traffic, and that corner will undoubtedly become more congested. And nobody at Latin today will graduate before they face the effects of the new building; construction begins this winter and is scheduled to last just over a year, all the while, school will be in session just across the street. Building 101 North isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The majority at Latin feels that Elly’s won’t be too greatly missed, and the blueprints put currently vacant storefronts to good use. But more than anything, this new building will require us to deal with change. We’ve only got a few months left before construction begins, so between then and now, we can only go to Elly’s a few last times and let the change we’re about to face sink in.    ]]>