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Funds Secured for Phase 1 of Lawrence Avenue Streetscape, But What About West of Western?

By Patty Wetli | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Proposed streetscape conditions (not finalized) on Lawrence east of Western Ave. Photo courtesy CDOT.

With TIF funding secured for Phase 1 of the Lawrence Avenue Streetscape, residents might want to familiarize themselves with the most recently revised sketch of the project released by the Chicago Department of Transportation. It doesn’t take a master’s in urban planning to crack the plan’s code–green circle = tree, and there’s about 150 of them–or to notice that the frippery, including permeable pavers, bump-outs and planters, comes to a screeching halt at Western Avenue.

According to Bill Higgins, 47th Ward program analyst and coordinator, TIF funds have been locked in for the Clark to Western portion of the streetscape, which incorporates a “road diet” that will narrow Lawrence to two lanes. “It will take CDOT the entire 2013 construction season to complete this segment,” he said.

And what of Phase 2, otherwise known as West of Western, intended to continue the streetscape to the Chicago River? Magic Eight Ball says, “Future unclear, ask again later.”

Though West of Western has received a boost of late from the surprise appearance of Goosefoot and a major facade investment by HarvesTime, the stretch remains in need of a refresher. Higgins noted that while Phase 2 is still on the TIF Task Force agenda, it hasn’t been formally approved.

“We anticipate it will be reviewed in 2013 while the first phase is being constructed. As many of the elements will follow suit, and because the Western-to-River section is already two lanes, it will be a much smaller project,” Higgins said. “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be done in 2014 or 2015. It’s definitely not off the table, but it isn’t being funded at this time.”

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