The corner of Jarvis and Greenview, in Rogers Park, used to be a drug marketplace. The most prominent businesses were a liquor store and a currency exchange. An aide to Ald. Joe Moore, who had his office on the corner, used to stand out in the street at night, just to keep an eye on gangbangers.
Then an entrepreneur named Dan Sullivan, whose great-grandfather had built a building in the neighborhood, decided to adopt the corner. Sullivan renamed the intersection Jarvis Square. He converted a tavern into a coffee shop, and brought in an Italian bistro, an Irish pub, an Indian restaurant. A wine shop replaced the liquor store. The Side Project Theater moved in across the street.
“There was a deep desire of so many people who live here of seeing this street begin to work again,” Sullivan told The New York Times last year.
One of Sullivan’s selling points was the Jarvis L stop at the end of the block. Every evening, it delivers commuters for happy hour at Poitin Stil, the Irish pub, and free pizza tastings at Gruppo di Amici, the Italian bistro.
But Jarvis is the least trafficked stop on the Red Line, and now it’s one of five stations the CTA wants to close, along with Lawrence, Thorndale, Foster and South. Instead of getting off the train at Jarvis, riders will stop at Morse or go all the way to Howard. That would be "catastrophic" for Jarvis Square, Sullivan told Ward Room. And it's an issue bubbling up to the mayor's race and one that Gery Chico, Rahm Emanuel and others have discussed.
"We have about a dozen new businesses that were started in the last six years by people who live in the neighborhood, and they were built around the L stop," he said. "It was more than a selling point, it was an essential. There’s a reason this isn’t on Sherwin or Fargo.”
49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, whose office is across the street from Sullivan's coffee shop, is also incsensed about the plan.
“At a time when the CTA is looking to increase ridership, it makes no sense to close a train station and force commuters to walk blocks out of their way to another station,” Moore wrote in an e-mail to constituents. “Moreover, the Jarvis Square business district depends on the Jarvis station for its survival. The recent rejuvenation of Jarvis Square would be undone in an instant if the el station were to close.”
Well, not entirely. The currency exchange would still be there.