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Chicago North Side

Ravenswood: What’s New and Special

To the naked eye when one drives through Ravenswood, it might be easy to deduce that it is full of closed businesses. You could say that this areas business development is on the decline. It may be hard to find some information on inner workings of Ravenswood, but that does not mean that it does not have some tricks up its sleeve.

There have been several positive remarks about Ravenswood and what makes it special. According to the Chicago Tribune’s article, “Ravenswood is a microcosm of production, a modern village of craft persons who are as at home behind a sautering /soldering/ iron as a professionally poured cappuccino.”  Ravenswood is a crafty area that has a good variety of little businesses that you just can’t find anywhere.  One can indulge in the arts, find woodworking and visit microbreweries.

A part from several Chicago restaurants that are looking to branch out in the area, Ravenswood Community Council has ordered the repurposing of a historical building. The Ravenswood Corridor.

“ I think that it’s great they are repurposing this new building,” says Ravenswood apartment complex owner Sal Iacopelli, 42. Iacopelli lives right on the corner of Lawrence and Hermitage and is always attentive to what’s going on in his community. “Doing this will make Ravenswood more appealing to people with several different interests,” says Iacopelli.

Across Lawrence Ave. is Chez--simo"s Bistro, the newest restaurant to open up in the Ravenswood area. Photo by Jennifer McCall

Across Lawrence Ave. is Chez–simo”s Bistro, the newest restaurant to open up in the Ravenswood area. Photo by Jennifer McCall

Sunday the council organized a walking tour for planners, architects, engineers, academics and policymakers with the main theme being repurposing existing structures for new uses. The tour stretches along Ravenswood Avenue from the Irving Park Brown Line station to Lawrence Avenue. Begyle Brewing is one of the stops located on the tour.

In the past, the Ravenswood was highly industrialized, but it includes office spaces, restaurants, small businesses and artist lofts. The main goal of this repurposing is to showcase old and new aspects of the Ravenswood area.

More plans are in place in order to improve the Ravenswood area, but there are mixed feelings among business owners and residents of Ravenswood. The Ravenswood station

Most are excited about the construction of the new Ravenswood station being built on the northwest corner of west Lawrence and north Ravenswood Avenue. The project brings a Mariano’s grocery store, L.A. Fitness and Sears Auto Care Center to the area. More than 150 new luxury condominiums will be built in addition to what was mention before.  Construction is expected to be complete by fall of this year. 500 created jobs should be one of the big results of this project. Those characteristics could be thought of as positive?

Ravenswood resident Jeremy Smith, 26, immediately expressed his concern when asked about the impending changes.  “With local businesses already struggling to survive, the influx of even more commercialized establishments, may put the final nail in the coffin,” smith says.

“I think all of these new changes will improve the Ravenswood area greatly, says business owner Amy Hanfer. Hanfer is the owner of Amy’s Candy Bar on Damen Ave, right next to the Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line stop.  She chose the area for her business because was close to the train and she lives in Ravenswood. She thinks that what makes Ravenswood special is that it’s a family oriented area. “I love how the businesses are sensitive to a family’s wants and needs,” says Hanfer.

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