Neighborhood Video Spotlight | River North

Historic architecture, eclectic dining and thriving nightlife make River North one of the city’s most vibrant and desirable communities…

Chicago Lights Urban Farm Stand Open Every Saturday May through November – Community Plots also available!

Attention River North. Did you know we have a produce farm in the neighborhood? Yes, it’s true! Chicago Lights Urban Farm, a local gem located at 444 West Chicago Avenue, offers a farm stand every Saturday, as well as community plots and a Fresh Produce Program.

The farm is run in conjunction with Chicago Lights, a non-profit and community outreach program run and funded by the First Presbyterian Church. The Chicago Lights program works with at risk youth, offering day camps, job training, programs for community-members, and the Sprouts Academy. The Urban Farm teaches youth the fundamentals of urban agriculture, as they learn how to cultivate and harvest crops. River North’s famous Farmhouse restaurant partners with the Urban Farm for fresh, local sustainable produce.

But just don’t take our word for it. This lovely little farm offers subscription farming to local residents, where for an annual membership fee of $100, residents can harvest their own produce on a 3-foot by 9-foot plot filled with organic soil, communal garden supplies (tools, compost), water access, and technical support. Gardeners are expected to become part of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm community and contribute to the life of the Farm. This includes mandatory volunteer hours and helping maintain communal plots. Gardeners are responsible for their own seeds, plants, and personal garden tools.

In addition, fresh, organic produce is offered for sale during the summer months at their onsite Farmstand every Saturday, May-November, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All produce sold is grown onsite and selection varies according to the season, ranging from greens and beats, sweet peppers to seasons. It is an impressive variety.

Please check out the following link and video to learn more about this Urban Farm. Volunteers are always appreciated, and there are many opportunities to get involved.



Join Friends of the Chicago River for a Ward Park clean-up on Saturday, May 13 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon

Join us for an exciting morning along the banks of the Chicago River as we kick off the 25th Annual Chicago River Day!

Register now!  Only 2 spots left!  To register, click here.

Work side-by-side with other volunteers beautifying our river, collecting garbage and sorting for recycling, removing invasive vegetation, sprucing up river-edge trails, and planting native seedlings at over 60 locations throughout the Chicago River system. As a special thank you, you’ll also get to take home a commemorative Chicago River Day t-shirt!

Each location has different restoration needs and volunteer activities available. If you have any questions about a particular site or its activities, please email

Registration will remain open until Monday, May 8, 2017 or until the site is at capacity.


All volunteers must sign Friends’ liability waiver upon arrival. If you do not sign the waiver, you will not be able to participate. NOTE: Some sites require additional waivers that you must print out and bring with you the day of the event.

The following waiver(s) need to be completed and signed for this location:

Friends Waiver

Chicago Park District Waiver


•Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to participate on Chicago River Day. Children without parents/guardians will NOT be allowed to participate unless they are part of a school or scout group with a teacher or group leader, and bring signed waivers from their parent or guardian.

•Volunteers must be at least 8 years old to participate. As each site is unique, some are more suitable than others for families and children. If you have questions about whether the site is family-friendly, please email

For general Chicago River Day questions, please visit Friends’ Chicago River Day FAQ page, or email

Coming Soon – Reveal of 2017 RNRA Movies in the Park

Each year since 2006, RNRA has hosted a series of free outdoor films on the riverfront in A. Montgomery Ward Park, located on the southwest corner of Kingsbury and Erie in River North. Films begin at dusk and include popcorn.  Most films are attended by approximately 400-600 people, and picnicking is common.  Come early to get a good spot!
Community input is always considered when determining the films that will be presented each year.  Votes are in for 2017!  The final lineup and schedule will be posted soon on our website and in our e-newsletters.  Stay Tuned!
Thanks, we look forward to seeing you in Ward Park!

Alderman Reilly Rejects Symmetry’s 60-Story Mixed-Use Proposal for River North

Dear Neighbor:

I am writing to provide an update regarding Symmetry’s recent community presentation of their development proposed for Wabash & Superior.  Based upon my review of their mixed-use proposal and its related traffic impacts on the immediately surrounding neighborhood, I have informed Symmetry that I will not support their Planned Development Application.  As such, their current proposal, or slight variations thereof, will not move forward.

Our recent community presentation with the River North Residents Association (RNRA) was very well attended and several hundred participants had many opinions to share and questions to ask about the proposed uses, density, quality-of-life factors and traffic impacts. The meeting lasted several hours and every participant was given a chance to be heard.

Based on the significant negative feedback my office has received expressing concerns regarding potential traffic impacts and the multiple uses (and intensity of uses) proposed for the site, I took the time to re-read the Developer’s traffic study, cover-to-cover.

Because all parking ingress & egress and all loading activities are proposed to be staged out of a public alley to the north of the development site, I personally visited the site on several different days to observe loading activities and traffic patterns occurring in the alley.  Based on my personal observations, the proposed parking and loading scheme that would utilize the public alley simply will not work for this proposal.

We also registered numerous concerns related to existing traffic circulation (or lack thereof) in the immediate neighborhood. Having observed the (poor) functionality of Superior Street during the afternoon and evening hours – the vehicular traffic on that street is currently reduced to one lane, eastbound on a routine basis. It is fair to assume additional curbside activities like taxicabs; Uber, limousine service and party buses will spill over onto (virtually non-functioning) Superior Street and exacerbate an already-untenable condition.

The poor traffic conditions on Superior Street and conflicts with potential usage of the public alley for ingress/egress to the site are compounded by the congestion resulting from pick-ups in the western-most southbound traffic lane at the Frances Xavier Warde School on the west side of Wabash Avenue. This must be addressed regardless of a new development.

There are also valid concerns about the intensity of the multiple uses on the site. Symmetry’s proposal would call for a 725-foot tall, 60-story tower containing 216 hotel keys, 120 timeshare units, 246 condominium units and roughly 30,000 square feet of retail at-grade. This combination of uses suggests heavy volumes of deliveries, curbside pick-up/drop-off, special event traffic and buses. It’s simply too much for this block.

Because I will not support this Planned Development proposal or the additional FAR the Developer wishes to purchase through density bonus payments – I have encouraged Symmetry to consider other options for this site, including:

(1)    Propose a Planned Development that does not seek to purchase additional FAR for development of the site and – rather than propose multiple, intense uses – strongly consider pursuing a single use, such as a residential project.

(2)    Consider forgoing a Planned Development altogether and work to determine what could be developed under their existing development entitlements and zoning restrictions related to height, uses, etc.

I have informed Commissioner Reifman and the Department of Planning that this proposal will not be moving forward.  We look forward to reviewing any future proposal with the Developer, so long as it is aligned with the suggestions outlined above.  Once we receive any new proposal for this site, my office will promptly notify impacted neighbors and communicate next steps for our transparent community process.


Brendan Reilly

Vice Mayor of Chicago

Alderman, 42nd Ward

For more information about Symmetry’s proposal, click on the following links to download the slideshow presentation from 3/13/17 community meeting, traffic study, as-of-right massing diagram, and meeting summary.

2017 River North Business Expo & Business After Hours

Name: 2017 River North Business Expo and Business After Hours

Date: April 19, 2017

Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT

Registration: REGISTER NOW

From start-ups to hospitality to national brands, River North is the heart of innovation and business in Chicago.  Bring plenty of business cards and join fellow business owners and entrepreneurs at the 2017 RNBA Business Expo, occurring at the Metropolitan Club in Willis Tower!  Through educational workshops and exhibitor displays, this year’s Expo will help you learn, grow, and elevate your business to the next level.  Whether you are in the process of forming your business, your business is new, or your business is well established, the Expo is the premiere place to meet experienced businesses that will provide the assistance, guidance, and resources for your business needs.  Exhibitors include businesses in the legal, technology, financial, marketing, hospitality, printing industries.

The Expo’s educational workshops are free to attendees, but you must register in advance as space is limited.  Spaces will fill up quickly, so make your selection early!  Please choose one session at each time when registering.


The Metropolitan Club

67th Floor – Willis Tower


Date/Time Information:

Wednesday, April 19

Schedule of Events

5:00 – 8:00          Expo and Open Networking

6:00 – 7:50          Optional Education Sessions

6:00 – 6:30          Session 1

David Choi – Owner, Seoul Taco

“Successful Small Business Startup Story”

6:40 – 7:10          Session 2

Mark Canak – Sommelier, Metropolitan Club

“Wine Etiquette for Business Entertaining”

Session 3

Meghan Stokes – Attorney

Speaker, Marty Padilla and Associates

“Negotiation Workshop”

7:20 – 7:50          Session 4

Mark Canak – Sommelier, Metropolitan Club

“Wine Etiquette for Business Entertaining”


7:50                        Business Card Drawing (must be present to win)

Contact Information:

Meghan Stokes or Marty Padilla



This event is April’s Business After Hours event but will be complimentary for all attendees. No coupons or cash will be needed for admittance but please register in advance for planning purposes.

Save the Date! Register now for Love your Mother Earth Annual Earth Day Clean-up at Ward Park

RNRA joins Friends of the Park and the Chicago Park District for a clean-up at Ward Park on April 22 from 9:00 – 12:00.  Come join us to celebrate Earth Day.  To register, click here.

Ward Park is located at 630 N. Kingsbury Street on the corner of Kingsbury and Erie.

Friends of the Parks’ Earth Day Parks & Preserves Clean Up and Celebration began 28 years ago as a way to engage communities in their local parks and forest preserves. Today, FOTP partners with a multitude of other groups including: Friends of the Forest Preserves, Chicago Park District, and Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Love Your Mother Earth: 28th Annual Earth Day Clean-Up will take place on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 9AM to Noon, in parks throughout the Chicago area. From Noon to 2PM there will be a celebration at Humboldt Park (including lunch, games, and activities for all ages)!

How to Avoid the April 3rd Tax Sale

Under Illinois law, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office is required to conduct two types of tax sales at which delinquent property taxes are sold: the Annual Tax Sale and the Scavenger Sale.

The 2015 Annual Tax Sale has been scheduled to commence at 8:30 a.m. on April 3, 2017.

For more information, click on the following links to download the informational brochure or visit the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website.

Coming soon – My River North Mobile App

In Q1 2017 RNRA is launching “My River North” our mobile app.

RNRA Members will receive exclusive discounts from River North businesses.  Stay tuned!  What do you need to do to join RNRA?  Talk to your Property Manager today.  Once a building joins RNRA, all of its residents become members.  Property Managers, go to, click on members, click on join.

Bring Your Own Bag – Chicago Checkout Bag Tax Effective 2-1-17

On November 16, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted the Chicago Checkout Bag Tax, a $.07 tax on the retail sale or use of paper and plastic checkout bags in Chicago. Retail merchants are entitled to retain $.02, and the remaining $.05 is remitted to the City.

After passage, the Department of Finance heard from many businesses who asked for a delay in the implementation in order to properly program the tax into their point of sales systems.  In order to allow for seamless start, the implementation of the Checkout Bag Tax was delayed until Wednesday, February 1, 2017.  (Source:  42 Ward Report of 1-6-17).

For more information about the Checkout Bag Tax, click here.