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Chicago News Roundup for Monday, August 27, 2007

Police searching for shooter of two best friends

Patrice Brown and Taniya Ross are best friends and classmates at Fenger High School. Brown is on life support while Ross is recovering from her wounds.

Investigators say the almost inseparable pair were walking to Ross’ home for a sleepover around 11 Friday night when they stopped to talk to another neighborhood teen. Relatives say two young men walked past the group, then turned around and started shooting.


Detroit surfer completes 60-mile paddle to Chicago

Detroit surfer Joe Bidawid completed his roughly 60-mile trek paddling on a surfboard across Lake Michigan Sunday afternoon.

Bidawid, 41, made the journey to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Hes raised more than $14,000, according to his Web site,

It took Bidawid nearly 18 hours to complete the crossing. He left at 9 p.m. Saturday from St. Joseph and arrived in Chicago at 2:40 p.m. Sunday.

[via Detroit Free Press]

Girl, 16, found dead in suburban park

Family members of 16-year-old Kaylor Spells gathered in the front yard of their Lockport Township home Monday, mourning the death of the young girl found Sunday morning in a park a mile from the home.

Spells was found by a jogger Sunday morning near a dam in Dellwood Park, about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, according to Lockport police.

[via Chicago Tribune]

At UIC, walk to dorm replacing drive home

She did it anyway. Stukel Towers, the university’s third new dorm in six years, opened last week, welcoming 750 students — and their overflowing carloads of clothing, lamps, bulletin boards, posters and pictures. If it weren’t for the Dan Ryan Expressway noise and the Sears Tower views, the scene of awkward introductions among roommates and tearful goodbyes with parents would have fit right in at the university’s bucolic Urbana-Champaign campus.

“I guess it could turn into more of a typical university,” said Rob Soltys, a senior who lives with his mother near Midway Airport. “I think we’re going to see more of the Abercrombie & Fitch, Polo-wearing suburbanites. ”

“Twenty years ago, it wouldn’t have even been safe to live here,” said her roommate, Crystal Rueck, 18, of Lockport.

Until 1988, UIC was strictly a commuter school for undergraduates, with housing only on the west side of campus for medical school students.

The neighborhood’s changes have been remarkable, she said. “My mother went here, and she remembers when Maxwell Street was still Maxwell Street. You could buy socks and listen to blues,” she said. “It’s completely changed.”

Yes, changes have taken place. While the University of Illinois-Chicago is still nearly completely a commuter school, the campus has been adding hundreds of on-campus living options. The area still shuts down around 4 or 5 p.m. but at least now there’s a Dominick’s nearby for groceries and a few places to eat. The Maxwell Street area has been disseminated throughout the city, the Maxwell Street market moved over to Canal, and restaurants pretty much everywhere except for Maxwell Street. And I hear now there are people wearing polo shirts in the area. And it’s even safe to live there now! All it took was some urban renewal-style whole block redevelopment.
[via Chicago Tribune]

RTA still on fast track to cutbacks

There are only 20 days to go before the CTA partially shuts down on Sept. 16 if the state fails to approve additional subsidies to erase a $110 million budget deficit.

The CTA plans to slash 39 bus routes, raise fares by as much as $1 per ride and lay off almost 700 employees. The agency’s doomsday budget plan would trigger worsening traffic gridlock felt not only by mass-transit riders, but also by drivers sharing more congested roads.

[via Chicago Tribune]

Cities block bulky homes on little lots

The outcry over huge new homes squeezed onto small lots has not let up. Residents are angry because expensive new homes raise property taxes. Neighbors resent the shadow they cast over their older, modest bungalows and ramblers. Preservationists say they destroy the historical character of neighborhoods.

“If communities are thinking teardowns are in their future, now is a golden time to go in and try to deal with that,” before prices go through the roof again and “people get greedy,” says Lane Kendig, president of Kendig Keast Collaborative, a planning consulting firm based in Chicago.

“Everybody jumped on the bandwagon because real estate was going up,” says Vince Bernardi, president of Rob-Lynn Construction in Lombard, Ill., outside of Chicago. Bernardi has done numerous teardowns in Elmhurst, another Chicago suburb, where he estimates an average 200 homes a year are knocked down and replaced “with as much as we can get on the lot.”

The pace has slowed, he says. He bought an old house for $355,000 two years ago and replaced it with a large home. It’s been on the market 18 months.

“The house is sitting there at $1.2 million,” Bernardi says. “There are no buyers.”

What’s wrong with a bit of diversity in housing stock within a neighborhood and maybe even increased density in places like Austin (Texas)?
[via USA Today]

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« Chicago News Roundup for Saturday and Sunday, August 25-26, 2007
» Real estate market plunges in the south of Chicago