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September 9, 2014

Weekly Review September 9

Proposed free trolley on 53rd gains traction

Early responses to a public survey show Hyde Park residents are in favor of a free trolley on East 53rd Street. In the first month of the survey, 82 percent of the 718 responders indicated they would be “absolutely” or “very likely” to use the trolley, DNAinfo Chicago reported.

In August the commissioners of the 61st Special Service Area commissioned a survey to find ways to improve transportation and support local businesses. The trolley would run east along 53rd Street from South Woodlawn Avenue to South Lake Park Avenue, south on Lake Park to East 55th Street, and east again, to South Hyde Park Boulevard. A traffic study showing that public transportation use is less prevalent in this area than others prompted the survey and proposed trolley.

The proposed trolley would cost approximately $830 per 10-hour day, according to DNAinfo. Funding would come from tax increment financing, a tax on property owners on East 53rd Street. The 61st Special Service area was formed in April, and the trolley would be its first major project. Special service areas, also known as business improvement districts in other cities, are special tax districts that fund special services and programs.

Forty percent of respondents indicated they would use the trolley several times a week, with weekends and weekday afternoons having the most ridership, the Hyde Park Herald reported.  More than half of respondents said they would be willing to wait up to 15 minutes for the trolley, but only 20 percent said they would be willing to wait more than 15 minutes.

A pilot run is in the works for Thanksgiving weekend, with a larger trial run proposed for 2015.

Commissioners are likely to vote on the proposed trolley at a public meeting September 24. The meeting will take place at Hyatt Place, in the Hyde Park conference room at 11 a.m.

Greenline Coffee, Promontory join SG restaurant discount program

Two new Hyde Park establishments joined Student Government (SG)’s restaurant discount program this summer. Greenline Coffee now offers a 10 percent discount to students, and the Promontory offers a 10 percent discount Sunday through Wednesday.

SG is currently working to expand the two-year-old program and promote student awareness of the discounts, according to Community and Government Liaison Kenzo Esquivel. He noted in an e-mail that the program is important to help students on meal plans who have to eat off campus on Saturday nights when the dining halls are closed.

Greenline Coffee, located on East 61st Street and South Eberhart Avenue, opened in late July. It serves Belgian waffles, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, coffee, sodas, and smoothies for relatively low prices. The shop imports the dough for its Belgian waffles directly from Brussels, according to DNAinfo.

The coffee shop is part of local nonprofit Sunshine Gospel Ministries’ efforts to teach employable skills to youth and bring jobs to Woodlawn. Sunshine Gospel Ministries runs a youth outreach program, a business incubator called Sunshine Enterprises, and church outreach and service programs.

Asking supporters for investments, Greenline opened with 12 employees and received more than 200 applications for jobs. Greenline Coffee needs approximately 150 customers spending an average of $5 per day to remain open, according to its website.

Sunshine Ministries hopes to work with 200 new businesses in the next three years, Executive Director Joel Hamernick told DNAinfo. His wife, Paula Hamernick, manages the coffee shop.

The Promontory, located on East 53rd Street and South Lake Park Avenue, also opened in late July. The restaurant and music venue serves small and large plates and drinks as well as offering live music and dancing on weekends.

The Promontory is owned by Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, the team behind several successful restaurants such as Longman & Eagle in Logan Square and Thalia Hall in Pilsen. Finkelman was approached by the University to join the Harper Court development around two years ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Read the Maroon’s review of the food here.

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