Local residents investing in new businesses

As new businesses continue to open in Beverly/Morgan Park—and current businesses expand—there’s excitement, but what’s even more exciting is that such developments are being made with investments from local residents.

Those local entrepreneurs not only want their businesses to succeed; they want the entire community to thrive.

A prime example of that is The Shops at Church 103, a redeveloped space inside a former Lutheran church at 2501 W. 103rd St.

The entire building is now fully leased, according to a local investment group that owns the property, and all the shop owners are women.

And inside, shoppers have plenty of options.

“That was our goal, to bring this building back to life and provide a gem in the community for people to shop,” said a member of the investment group who requested to remain anonymous. “Whether it’s shopping, yoga or physical therapy or fitness, we have it all in there.”

Featuring a gift shop, a women’s fashion store, a fitness studio and more, Church 103 debuted about two years ago.

Haven 1890, a gift shop that sells a variety of home accessories, opened in November 2021 under the ownership of local residents Laura Hayes and Amy Pilafas—and the business has already expanded.

Around the same time, Emilia Gray, a women’s fashion store owned by Beverly resident Alina McKnight, opened next to Haven 1890.

In January, The Studio Beverly, which offers yoga and other workout classes, debuted on the second floor under the ownership of local residents Ashley LoMaglio and Sarah Regan. Many of their instructors also live locally.

In the basement, Core Fitness and Physical Therapy, owned by Beverly resident Diane Fidler, recently opened. Fidler also runs a Core location in Evergreen Park.

Laura Alyssa Photography, Southside Acupuncture and Herbs, Rooted on Maplewood salon, and Blue Tin Production, a sewing company, are among the other tenants.

Members of the investment group said they’re grateful that a place like Haven 1890 took a risk in opening inside the church.

That business has “really taken off,” the investment-group member said, and more investments will be made as needed to keep the entire building appealing.

“The building needed a lot of work,” the investor said of a space that was previously home to a private school, Ridge Academy. “We’re happy our tenants have been patient with us.”

Throughout Beverly/Morgan Park, other promising developments are being led by local residents.

At the former site of Beverly Woods Restaurant, 11532 S. Western Ave., medical offices have been constructed, and an employee-assistance program for Chicago Police Department is open there. Active and retired officers, along with their families, can receive free and confidential counseling.

According to 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, that program was five years in the making, starting during the tenure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Luckily, it’s finally here,” O’Shea said, “and, hopefully, police officers and their families can take advantage of it.”

One of the most eclectic corridors in the community is on 99th Street and Walden Parkway, home to many small shops.

Cardinalis Cardinalis, a men’s store owned by Beverly resident Keith Lewis, debuted this summer. Lewis also owns Bookie’s New and Used Books on 103rd Street and Western Avenue, and he said earlier this year that, ideally, he’d open any shop that the community needed.

Next door to Cardinalis Cardinalis, Matt Carey, of Beverly, is preparing to open Bricktop Barbershop in the near future.

Also on Walden Parkway, Two Mile Coffee Bar, owned by local resident Nate Hollister and his sister Gretta Dertinger, is planning to expand into an adjacent storefront. This fall, Hollister and Dertinger plan to offer new menu items, expanded seating, an event space and other new amenities.

They also own a Two Mile location at the former Metra Rock Island Line station on 95th Street.

According to Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHA) Executive Director Caroline Connors, it’s a point of pride that local residents—not big developers—are opening businesses.

That’s important because many big-box retailers are now closing.

“It’s a testament to the community that people live here and work here and are investing in the community,” Connors said. “They want to see things thrive, and they’re willing to put in the money and the labor and the time themselves.

“I think that’s one of the things that we appreciate about this neighborhood; so many of the business owners are residents. It just kind of keeps that small-town feel. They have their finger on the pulse of what the neighborhood wants. They’re attentive to that when they’re deciding who they’re going to lease to or what type of business they’re going to open.”

Moreover, local business owners continue to work together and with local organizations such as the MPBHA.

Throughout August, the MPBHA is teaming up with the Beverly Area Planning Association and the 95th Street Business Association to celebrate National Black Business Month.

Networking events and educational workshops are being held, and on Aug. 27, black business owners are invited to gather at the 95th Street Farmers Market on Longwood Drive.

On Aug. 29, a business-education workshop will focus on credit reporting and taxes. Beverly Bank and CIBC will lead the presentation.

National Black Business Month was established in 2004.

Local business owners approached Connors and other leaders about hosting a promotion in the 19th Ward.

Connors is happy they did.

“I’m proud that we did it,” Connors said. “I think it’s a buildable event that’ll just keep growing now that we’ve got the foundation laid.”

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