The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and Special Service Area 27 held an open house Saturday to discuss the Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP). The community was invited to Flourish Studios at 3020 N. Lincoln in West Lakeview to learn more about the initiative to redesign Lincoln Avenue, Belmont and Southport areas.
The Chamber set up interactive stations for those who attended to learn more about LAMP and provide their input in an interactive way. Attendees were invited to fill in boards with their ideas for the area, identify on maps where they would like to see certain amenities, complete magnetic poetry, fill in their own idea bubble on what they would like to see in Lakeview and use SSA 27 money to show where they would like to see funds allocated.
George Jasinski, SSA 27 program manager at the Chamber, and the Jill Siegel gave Roscoe View Journal a tour through the individual exhibits and provided insight on how LAMP came to fruition.
Where did LAMP come from?
Jasinki said they started thinking about doing a master plan for Lakeview in about March of 2010. He said they were looking at how the recession has affected area businesses and looking at programs and actions the Chamber and SSA could do to help.
“We actually thought this was the perfect time to build an economic master plan because we wanted to catch the economy on the upswing,” said Jasinki. “We felt that the poor economy was an opportunity to look at the vacant properties that we have and to really talk to our residents and our business owners and say we have all of these vacancies, we are acknowledging that”
Jasinki said they looked at all of the resources in the area and at the Chamber. He said although the economy was bad, if they took action now, they’d be in a position to ride the economy back up.
“Help us look for tenants,” he said. “Help us help your business stay in Lakeview. We want you to live here, we want you to want to come back here and we want you to open your businesses because this area is a perfect opportunity for that.”
They organized a work-group of local businesses to bounce ideas off each other and created a request for proposal. The chamber is working with PLACE Consulting and Moss Design on the LAMP.
The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and SSA 27 have been working with Aldermans Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), informing them on all of the progress and findings of LAMP. Tunney has extended his support to the project.
“[We identified that] people wanted to get to know each other, people wanted to get to know their neighbors, to know their business owners, they wanted to be able to talk to them because they said if they knew their business owners they would be more likely to shop in the area and retail leakage, dollar leakage to outside neighborhoods was a big deal for us,” said Jasinski.
The Chamber conducted a shopper survey which showed that 66 percent of shoppers shop outside the area, but 50 percent of the consumers don’t spend locally. Fifty-four percent of shoppers also said the options in the area were poor to fair, with 60 percent saying new stores are important to the area.
What about the kids?
Another concern brought to the Chamber was the lack of youth services for those aged 12 to 18. So they created a youth task force, comprised of 15 students from the local elementary schools, junior highs and Lakeview High School.
“We asked them questions like what did you like to do when you were little that you don’t do now or if you could put anything here, any business here, what would it be?,” explained Jasinski.
The students identified places on the map where they like to go, where they thought businesses should go and which areas scare them. This map was on display at the open house.
“There are actually some really surprising things on here,” said Jasinski. “These dots are for the YMCA and the red dots mean these are unsafe places. The kids told us that they have had some negative experiences there whether with the people who work there or around the area.”
Another surprise was the favorite hangout of this demographic is the Starbucks near Flourish Studios, where they could hang out with their friends and be treated like adults by the friendly staff.
When is the next open house?
Jasinski and the Chamber will host another open house on Dec. 3, 2010 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 3440 N. Southport, where residents and businesses can contribute their ideas, view the results of the November 20 open house and see the winners of the chamber-sponsored contests. To read more on LAMP and find ways to provide input visit www.thisislakeview.com.