Roseland business leaders ask for help fighting crime along Michigan Avenue

March 3, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Chicago Police reports that crime is down but they acknowledge there's more to be done.

A section of Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood was once a bustling business corridor of movie theaters and big retailers like, Gately's Peoples store.

40 years ago, Ledall Edward's father opened Edward's Fashion at Michigan Avenue and 114th Street

Edward's is among the few stores that has survived in a challenging environment.

''In order for us to encourage commerce in the community we have to make the environment conducive to people spend their money,'' Edwards said.

In January, the greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce called on police for additional help controlling criminal elements along the business corridor and enforcing good business practices.

''What we want is change, and we are willing as a community as a community organization to do our part,'' said Andrea Reed of the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce.

The result - a new initiative announced Monday developed by the area police commander and members of the chamber to address activity that inhibits a thriving community.

''We have illegal DVD sales, we had possession distribution of cannabis sales, litany issues that we're going to address, '' said Commander Larry Watson.

The initiative will also target bad business practices like, signs that don't meet code.

''Excessive signage creates conditions that lead to crime believe it or not, because police driving cannot see inside to see if there is anything going on,'' said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy

For those eager for signs of change, this is a start.

''People with money have choices they don't have to come here,'' Edwards said.

Reed said there are greater opportunities when money stays in the community.

Although there are fewer stores to entice shoppers, now Chamber members see a possible turning point for small business owners looking for commercial space. They hope to rid that section of Michigan Avenue of its problems and begin a new era of prosperity.

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