On June 29, members of the Harlem Avenue Little Italy Business Association met with representatives from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development and two urban planning firms to come up with a strategy for developing Harlem Avenue from North to Lawrence avenues.
HALIBA board members gave their guests a tour of the area, introducing them to local businesses and offering a sense of the area’s rich Italian history.
The tour began at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame at 3417 N. Harlem Ave. “This museum is going to be the anchor of Harlem Avenue, bringing tourists from around the world,” said NIASHF President Ron Onesti. “But we need the businesses in the area to support us.”
HALIBA leaders are hoping the increased attention the museum will bring to Harlem Avenue will inspire younger Italian-American entrepreneurs to take the plunge.
“It’s your turn,” said longtime Harlem Avenue business owner Gino Bartucci Sr., issuing a challenge to the next generation. “We came here with nothing, and we built something special. With everything you have at your disposal, it’s time for you to take the risk and build something here.”
Younger board members like Nancy Galetta and Jason Quaglia are also taking an active role in the planning process. “It was great to be able to introduce this influential group of people to the area and share stories about how important it is to us,” Quaglia says. “We’re really proud of being from Harlem Avenue.”
Future meetings are in the works.
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