It was standing-room-only at St. Luke’s, 1500 W. Belmont Avenue, when the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and Special Service Area 27 revealed the Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP) to area residents and local businesses.
The night started off with a brief video, followed by a detailed presentation of LAMP from Kimberly Bares, president of PLACE Consulting; SSA chair and owner of the Southport Grocery and Cafe; and Matt Nardella of Moss Design. Then the community had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with the organizers, or participate in a forum with Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.
The Aldermen’s Response
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) were on hand to watch the reveal and speak with residents and business owners. Tunney, a former member of the SSA, expressed delight with the plan and the attraction it will bring to the area.
“What is interesting is trying to connect the connectivity of these two corridors on Southport and Lincoln,” said Tunney. “There are different experiences but it is super, super important to the City of Chicago and really identifies what we trying to do in Lakeview. We know we aren’t Michigan Avenue but we have a unique neighborhood experience, unique to Chicago that I think those sophisticated travelers and residents to say hey, this is a tourist area.”
Tunney and Waguespack will team up to find funding for LAMP.
“Alderman Tunney and I have been working on the Lincoln-Ashland-Belmont intersection,” said Waguespack. “We have a meeting coming up in the next few weeks regarding funding for that. I’m happy we’ve got that on the table.”
The Community Response
A flood of hands rose after Way opened the floor for questions. The community made suggestions for dedicated bike lanes and expressed concerns about the noise from the train taking away from the low-line and the cooperation of CVS and the CTA.
The biggest questions were in regard to the development south of Belmont Avenue.
“[We want] to bring in new businesses that complement the existing business,” said Bares, adding they want to attract coffee shops and wine bars.
“One idea is to create a home improvement district there on Lincoln Avenue, and that would tie in well with some of the existing businesses already there and also tie into the general improvement into the area,” said Bares.
Safety issues also came up. Residents and business owners were shocked when Bares said safety ranked last in the findings from the open houses.
As published in LAMP: “Participants were shown a video of representative programs for each category that SSAs can fund. They were asked to prioritize programs and services in the SSA through a budgeting exercise in which each person received $100 in SSA dollars and placed them in different categories.”
In the end, aesthetics ranked number one and safety last.
One resident suggested the Chamber take initiative to bring beat cops into the area to tackle vandalism and recent break-ins. Way said the Chamber continues to advocate for beat cops, but said the plan could increase safety in the long-run as a more active streetscape will drive pedestrian traffic.
Those in attendance received as card as they signed in with opportunities to get on the mailing list to help with the implementation phase. If you’re interested in volunteering, head to thisislakeview.com to contribute to the open space, low line, farmers’ market, bike advocacy, public art and local youth council initiatives.
Waguespack encouraged the community to reach out as well. “After the presentation, get really involved in the nitty-gritty details because that is where we’re really going to figure out what kinds of things we can do.”