Season's Greetings from SOAR

Season's Greeting from the SOAR Board of Directors
We wish you, your family, friends and neighbors the happiest of holiday seasons and a wonderful 2018!


Left to right first row (seated): Christian Ficara, Howard W. Melton, Bob Johnson, Clare Hennessy. 
Back row, standing; Brian Butler, Judy Aiello-Fantus, Seth Blumenthal, Gail Spreen, Debby Gershbein,
Karen Burnett, Mario W. Hollemans, Joel Brosk, Bob Levin, David Hampe.

Message from the President; Turning Advocacy into Action

In our commitment to those who love the neighborhood, the SOAR Board of Directors has been hard at work this year advocating for Streeterville, working on actionable goals to educate, advocate and inform the community. We have been effective by working very closely with government officials to advocate for the neighborhood. For example, we frequently meet with Alderman Brendan Reilly, Alderman Brian Hopkins, State Representative Christian Mitchell and Police Commander Paul Bauer, communicating concerns about quality of life issues including safety and well-being, land use, traffic, development, greening and sustainability. As an example of our effectiveness, Alderman Reilly recently wrote several letters to inform us about actions he took in response to our concerns. To read his letters visit our website and look for the Position Statements tab on the left navigation. There are 4 letters for you to read.
SOAR connects the community educationally, culturally and socially, fulfilling our goal of "Building and Celebrating Community" through the flourishing Farmers Market, a significant community gathering place. We hosted Town Halls, social events, safety and greening/sustainability seminars and a new, informative and educational Speakers Series and celebrated the beauty of the neighborhood with our Beautification Awards and the SOAR Garden Club at Lake Shore Park.  
In our 43rd year, we find that SOAR has effectively met challenges presented by a Streeterville that is vastly different from the one organized to give residents a voice in 1975. We still have more to do. But SOAR's mission remains: to preserve, enhance and promote the quality of life and community in Streeterville.  
The Annual Appeal is a major source of income to support programs and operations. If you have already donated to the 2017 year-end Annual Appeal, thank you for your generosity. If you have not donated, it is not too late to consider a tax-deductible donation "close to home." If you wish to donate click here.
As always, I will be happy to hear your ideas and respond to your questions and comments when you reach me at

Deborah Gershbein




Our Annual Appeal to Keep Streeterville SOARing

Community members like you make Streeterville the vibrant, world-class neighborhood that it is. Our members, our volunteers, our government officials, and our stakeholders are the heart and soul of our Streeterville community. Together, we have accomplished much, but the work is not done. Year after year, SOAR strives to create the Streeterville that the community members envision and the only way we can continue to do so is with your continued support. We are true to our mission statement with every penny we spend going to “preserving, promoting, and enhancing the quality of life and community.”  

We have advocated on community issues that affect your safety and wellbeing by working with our local government officials. We have maintained the community gardens at Lake Shore Park, we have published weekly community updates via SOAR eNews, we produced and managed the Farmers Market at the MCA Plaza, we have enhanced our social media presence, hosted informational forums and Town Hall meetings, social events and more. All of our activities rely on donations from members like you. Your donation not only strengthens the neighborhood, it helps to build and celebrate our wonderful community. As you reflect on your year, please take a moment to remember what SOAR has done for you.

As our days get shorter and nights get longer, we support efforts to keep our neighborhood one of the safest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago and to make it even safer. 

As the leaves start to turn a golden hew and the soil begins to freeze over, we reminisce on the beautiful gardens planted by the SOAR Garden Club, and graciously paid for with donations from dedicated members like you. 

As the holidays draw closer, Michigan Avenue fills with residents, workers, shoppers and tourists. We thank those whose efforts have tried to help make Streeterville a quieter but still vibrant neighborhood. There is still work to be done.

With 2017 coming to a close, to say we had a good year would be an understatement. All of these efforts and more were made possible by the support and participation of members of the community like you, and this year, the level of involvement and enthusiasm we received from our members has made SOAR truly soar to new heights. Your contributions will help strengthen the Streeterville community for years to come. 

We gratefully ask for your continued financial support by contributing to our Annual Appeal. SOAR is a 501(c)3 and as a result has limited sources of income. We rely on donations from our Annual Appeal to continue our community efforts.  Your donation is tax deductible to the extent of the law. We thank you for your unwavering support.


Remaining Relevant

The SOAR Board of Directors has been very busy making certain that our 2017-18 Task Force initiatives are relevant in today's world. At the October Board meeting, Task Force Chairs, who are responsible for the development of plan initiatives and implementation, were appointed for the coming year. Co-Chairs or Vice Chairs were later appointed for all Task Forces.
In a reorganization with the goal of increasing relevance to Streeterville as it is today, we have refocused the Task Force formerly known as the Real Estate Task Force, which has been renamed and will be known as the Land Use and Development Task Force.  This newly designed Task Force will focus on looking at the bigger picture of land use in the neighborhood, continuing to focus on real estate development issues but holistic in its approach. We now are combining all land uses: development, traffic, pedestrian and vehicular transportation, preservation and landmarking. We aim to strengthen the balance between residential, commercial, institutional, retail and recreational mixed uses in this community. 
Board member Gail Spreen has chaired or co-chaired the Real Estate Task Force for many years and we appreciate her efforts.  We now introduce another Board member as a highly qualified Co-Chair for this new Task Force. Helping expand SOAR's role in land use, Judy Aiello Fantus is a former City Manager of Evanston, where she oversaw many new city programs pertaining to land use and real estate development. Both Judy and Gail will serve as Co Chairs of the Land Use and Development Task Force. We look forward to their combined leadership.
Task Forces require volunteers from the SOAR membership to participate in the implementation of plans in order to accomplish missions, goals and objectives.  All of the 2017-18 Task Forces are listed below. Members are encouraged to volunteer and participate in Task Forces by contacting the Chair listed below. We truly value your efforts and passion for your community and for SOAR.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers who have generously given of their time and expertise to help make SOAR a very productive organization that benefits our wonderful Streeterville neighborhood that we live in, work in, and enjoy.
As always, I will be happy to hear your ideas and respond to your questions and comments when you reach me at
Deborah Gershbein






SOAR Speaker Series

SOAR is pleased to introduce the first of its three part Speaker Series. The first session is Food for Thought. Speaker Series programs will feature noted Streeterville residents, SOAR friends and celebrated Chicagoans speaking out on a wide variety of timely, informative and entertaining topics. Like the Farmers Market, Town Hall meetings and Social Wednesdays, the series will foster one of the most important goals of the organization, to "Build and Celebrate Community" by encouraging community involvement and recognizing talents, contributions and success.
With that in mind, the Speakers Series will launch on Tuesday, November 7, when Hungry Hound Steve Dolinsky discusses "Speaking Out on the Chicago Food Scene." Through his longtime and frequent broadcasts (ABC-Chicago/Channel 7), blogs and personal appearances, Dolinsky has proven his chops as one of Chicago's most trusted restaurant critics and knowledgeable food historians. He will give an overview of trends and a brief survey of Streeterville's time-honored and new eating establishments-some of which might be new to even the most frequent diners in the audience. Learn more about Steve Dolinsky here
We believe, along with Julia Child, that "People who love to eat are always the best people". They include those who shop the Farmers Market, whose success largely rests on people enjoying each other's company to share fresh and local food.
Topic               Speaking Out on the Chicago Food Scene  
Speaker          Steve Dolinsky
When              Tuesday, November 7
Time                Registration: 6pm
Program:        6:30pm
Location         Park Hyatt Chicago
                        800 N. Michigan Grand Salon-Lower Level
RSVP              Current members click here to register.
Not a member?  
Please click here to join or contact us at 312.280-2596. We are offering a special first-time member rate of $50 for those who join by November 2. At the door or after that date membership will be full price of $75.  
All who attend will receive a coupon for NoMI Kitchen to be used any time before March 31, 2018.
The Speakers Series is generously sponsored by Community Advantage, DK Condo and Wintrust Bank. We are grateful to them for recognizing the value of SOAR's goals to build and celebrate community. We sincerely thank our hosts, the staff at the Park Hyatt Hotel for making this event possible. 



SOAR Annual Meeting

SOAR held its 42nd Annual Meeting at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Monday September 25th  to a full house. Members in attendance were fortunate to hear comments from both Streeterville Aldermen (42nd  Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins) as well as 26th District State Representative Christian Mitchell. Terry deGuzman, MCA Chief Operating Officer welcomed SOAR members. We thank the MCA for their warm hospitality. 
The theme of the meeting was #onlyinstreetervile, a salute to the uniqueness of the neighborhood and to SOAR's new social media initiatives. A map of Streeterville landmarks and institutions was shared to display Streeterville boundaries and illustrate the uniquness of the neighborhood while demonstrating why it is important for SOAR to represent the residents of Streeterville in this urban landscape surrounded by Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.  
Despite our successes this year, we have many areas to work on in the coming year. We must continue to focus on safety initiatives, ensure that our parks are useable and in tip top shape, and we also need to continue to educate, advocate and inform on behalf of Streeterville residents.   
Now entering into our 43rd year, we expect to continue our successes and expand our community efforts in the fulfillment of our mission and goals for the Streeterville Neighborhood!
We Build and Celebrate Community!  Thank You! 

Highlights from our Annual Meeting

Here are highlights of remarks by our special guests, all of whom included tributes to SOAR for longtime service to the community:

Left to right, State Representative Christian Mitchell, Alderman Brendan Reilly,      Alderman Brian Hopkins and Terry de Guzman


Representative Mitchell plans to re-introduce his bill to curb motorcycle and siren noise in the coming session. His previous attempt was blocked by the motorcycle lobby in Illinois. 

Alderman Reilly announced that as a result of his actions in light of recent violence around the underpass to Navy Pier, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will install a security camera at the corner of Ohio and McClurg and another on Ohio, mid-way between McClurg and Inner Lake Shore Drive. This is in addition to the closure of the underpass in late evening-early morning hours. Alderman Reilly is developing his menu of priorities for 2018 and urges residents to email him with descriptions and photos of trouble spots in the neighborhood; he also welcomes reports when neighbors observe suspicious incidents. Contact him at
Alderman Hopkins reported that Chicago Police District 18 has added six patrol officers and noted his efforts, along with Alderman Reilly's, to increase that number. He praised the Midnight Circus performances and Lake Shore Park and saluted Park Advisory Council David Kostelansky (story elsewhere in this issue), commenting that proceeds will be directed to upgrading the playground. Alderman Hopkins also announced that a portion of the restored Lake Shore Park Field will likely be a dog-friendly area.
Ms. deGuzman noted that the MCA has hosted the SOAR in the past, and now includes 12,000 square feet of redesigned space accommodating the learning and social activities "at the heart of the MCA." She briefly described the 50th Anniversary events taking place on October 21 and 22 (story elsewhere in this issue) and a special event for neighbors to be held in November. 
Howard W. Melton:
SOAR's outlook is positive
Financial Report Noting that membership dues accounted for more than half of SOAR revenue for 2016-17, Treasurer Howard W. Melton reported a positive year in terms of fundraising, sponsorship and special events. The organization is in good financial health. Click here for the full financial report.
Board News Officers re-elected by the Board of Directors for 2017-18 are President Deborah Gershbein, Vice PresidentBrian Butler and Treasurer Howard W. Melton; newly-elected Secretary is Clare Hennessy. Thanks to Bob Levin, who served several years as Secretary and remains on the Board.
Joel Brosk was newly-elected to the Board. Joel and his wife, Carol, have lived in Streeterville for 13 years  
Joel Brosk
and have been SOAR members for 10 years. He is a real estate attorney involved in a variety of commercial and industrial development and currently serves as general counsel to ServerCentral, an internet and cloud service provider to clients including Mesirow, ABN/Amro, Angie's List and the Cook County Treasurer. Joel has volunteered for the Farmers Market, Artisan Market and neighborhood clean-up, among other SOAR activities. Carol is co-chair of the SOAR Garden Club. We welcome Joel to the Board.
Mary Baim
Longtime Board member Mary Baim chose not to run for election this term and was named Board Emeritus. Among SOAR roles Mary took on with energy and enthusiasm were Chair of the Nominating Committee, Co-chair of the Artisan Market, which she co-founded. Earlier this term, David Lewin resigned from the Vice Presidency and the Board to focus on his family and legal practice. We will miss Mary's passion and David's counsel and wish them well.
Awards SOAR Vice President Brian Butler assisted with the presentation of the 2017 P.I.V. (Positively Invaluable Volunteer), Beautification and Green Ribbon Awards at the meeting.
P.I.V. Awards These honor volunteers who demonstrate a high degree of personal dedication, leadership
Charlie Wojciechowski, Deborah Gershbein, Linda Avery. Irene Newman was out of town and unable to receive her award in person
in a significant SOAR endeavor and a high standard of community service. Winners chosen by the Board of Directors for 2017 were: Linda Avery,honored for the technical skills she brings to SOAR special events, including the Artisan Market and the Blueprints Gala and for her innovative contributions to the first Farmers Market Kitchen Pop-Up this year; Charlie Wojciechowski, the highly respected reporter for WMAQ/NBC Chicago who lends his talent and professionalism as moderator of SOAR Town Hall meetings featuring Streeterville's Aldermen, State officials and other government officials; Irene Newman, who brought her many diverse interests and professionalism to SOAR as Treasurer of the Board, member of the Financial Committee and co-founder of the Artisan Market.
Beautification Awards Criteria for the SOAR Beautification award are landscaping that contributes to the overall quality of life in Streeterville, shows substantial improvements in quality and interest, 
Representatives from Beautification Award winners chosen in three categories by member voting, pictured with Deborah Gershbein, are, left to right, Valentine Sobirov, Assistant Property Manager, 600 N. Lake Shore Drive (Residential); Scott Greenberg, Owner, EMC2 (Commercial), and Steve Haemmerle, Executive Vice President, Design and Construction, Navy Pier. (Institutional.)
demonstrates creativity, color and interest, is well maintained and cared for and inspires those in other Streeterville buildings to improve their own landscaping. 
Greening and Sustainability: Green Ribbon Award This award recognizes an existing building in Streeterville with outstanding environmental practices and honors a condominium/co-op or rental building that has demonstrated the highest standards of performance with regard to greening and  
Presenting the Green Ribbon Award to 401 E. Ontario representatives is Deborah Gershbein. Accepting  are, left to right, Greg Kersting, Association President; Laura Hull,  Property Manager; Jim Stoller, President and CEO, The Building Group, and Marc Emmanuel, Chief Building Engineer.
sustainability. The first-ever Green Ribbon Award was chosen by members of the Greening and Sustainability Task Force with counsel by the City of Chicago's Energy Efficiency program, Retrofit Chicago.The winner was 401 E. Ontario Condominium Association, which has shown high performance and notable improvement in sustainability through energy efficiency measures, resource, waste, and water management and achieved a significant energy efficiency score of 88 out of 100.  
 All Annual Meeting photos by Chicago Corporate Photography & Video