Chicago’s Albany Park and Irving Park area is a dynamic business hub experiencing a resurgence as an up and coming commercial powerhouse, being home to a growing number of retail and wholesale businesses.
CHICAGO, IL, March 24, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ — Chicago’s Albany Park and Irving Park are where the quest for the American dream often begins. This vibrant, multi-ethnic area of Chicago is likely the most diverse community in the city. It is this diversity that gives the greater Albany Park and Irving Park district, often known as the North River District, its strength and vitality. It is a dynamic business hub experiencing a resurgence as an up and coming commercial powerhouse, being home to a growing number of retail and wholesale businesses.
Supporting the success of these businesses is the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce and Albany Park and Irving Park Special Service Area. The hub of the commercial strip includes the intersections of Kedzie and Lawrence Avenue and Kimball and Lawrence, and the bustling streets of West Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road are key extensions.
Entrepreneurship is increasingly driving the growth of the area, as evidenced by the wide range of businesses that have successfully started up during the past few years and the more established businesses that have aggressively expanded their operations and conquered new market segments.
Dovetail Studios at 2853 W. Montrose Avenue (www.dovetail-studios.com; 872-208-6169), is a great example of a business that has been built from the ground up and has grown steadily despite a competitive market. Founded by owners Joanna and Kit Read in 2015, Dovetail Studios is a modern fitness and dance studio that has successfully adapted to the needs of its market, all the while breathing new life into a neglected commercial space. What once was an old auto repair garage, is now a sleek and stylish studio that serves many needs. Dovetail offers dance classes for infants and toddlers; ballet, tap and hip hop dance classes for children; ballet, hip hop and musical theater dance classes for teenagers; and ballet hip hop, modern, and tap classes for adults. There also are ballet, modern, musical theater and hip hop classes for professional dancers. For adult fitness seekers, there are nine different classes, including yoga, strength, Pilates, cardio and boot camp-style classes, offered at various times during the day and evenings.
„We knew there were many families in our neighborhood, and so we set out to offer a family-centric program of exercise and dance classes for both children and adults,“ said Joanna. „We’ve discovered that it’s also a good space for events. We host birthday parties incorporating dance and rent out the space for organizational events.“
Kennedy-Mann Architecture (www.kennedy-mann.com; 773-564-9995), owned by principals Ben Kennedy and Matthew Mann, has experienced accelerating growth during the past six years and is about to move to new, expanded offices at 2822 W. Montrose. Starting as a small independent firm in 2008 that focused on small residential projects, the partners have built a strong base of commercial clients, enabling them to scale up their operation and take on even more exciting projects. Most notable among their more recent projects is the renovation of the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square and the new Carbon Arc Bar & Board restaurant adjacent to the theater.
Jaafer Sweets, located in the Albany Park Shopping Center at 4825 N. Kedzie (www.jaafer.com; 773-463-3933), was a 17-year old highly regarded Middle Eastern bakery when Hannah Moses and her husband, Nabil Saaydeh, took it over in 2008. The couple could have continued to run the business as it was–successful with an excellent reputation. But their entrepreneurial spirit was a driving force as Jaafer Sweets has grown into a major wholesaler as well as a retailer. Never resting on their laurels, the couple continued to improve the quality of the products while they introduced new product lines including vegan and gluten-free selections. Jaafer Sweets now distributes baked goods, under their own brand name, to Whole Foods stores in the US and Canada. Chicagoans can also find the products in Mariano’s supermarkets.
The Irving Park Early Learning Center, located at 3000 and 3023 W. Montrose in the Irving Park neighborhood (www.ipelc.com; 773-539-7422), is another excellent example of a business that started from the ground up and has grown into a two-location business, earning a strong reputation along the way. Founded in 1999 by Rose Ocasio, what was once a simple child care center has evolved into a licensed, multicultural infant, toddler, and pre-school program. With programs for children from six weeks of age through age five, the center’s mission is to nurture „the whole child“ in the areas of physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, preparing them to succeed once they reach school age by helping them develop a wide range of individual and interpersonal skills they will need to thrive. The Early Learning Center has adopted the highly-respected Teaching Strategies Creative Curriculum as the basis for its programs and activities.
„The Irving Park neighborhood has become much more family oriented over the years, giving us the opportunity to serve more people by upgrading our facilities and expanding our programs,“ said Bardha Kazazi, the Center’s director for the past nine years. „We added a new brick exterior, large, energy-efficient windows, and placed a big logo on the facade so people could see us. We built a big playground on the outside with new equipment and a safe play surface made from rubber tiles. We also enhanced the interior with features that were appropriate for babies and younger children.“
Relationships are Crucial
While these businesses are quite different from each other, there are some common threads, too. All the entrepreneurs stress the importance of relationships and community involvement as key to their success. For architect Matthew Mann, building collaborative relationships with real estate developers has been very important to their success. „First, they like us,“ he said. „We approach each project as a unique opportunity to interpret our clients‘ vision while offering