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Mayor Gives OK to Play in the Street, Bring on the Pop-Up Parks

By Patty Wetli | Friday, June 8, 2012

A rendering of Lakeview's proposed pop-up park. Credit: courtesy dSpaceStudio

We say “pop-up park,” the mayor’s office says “people spot.” Whatever you call these communal green spaces, which essentially extend the sidewalk cafe concept into the adjacent street, they’re about to become more than a whimsical concept, with Lakeview tapped as one of four participants in a pilot program.

Earlier this week, Mayor Emanuel introduced a plan to City Council that would create seasonal open spaces in Chicago’s streets, alleys and plazas, including a proposed people spot outside of Heritage Bikes, 2959 N. Lincoln Ave. Considering the council’s track record when it comes to vetoing the mayor, we’re going to go out on a limb and call this one a done deal.

The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the pop-up park, is operating under the same assumption. The decking system included in the parklet’s design requires custom fabrication that takes six to eight weeks to complete. “We didn’t want to invest until we knew we were going to move forward,” says Heather Way, executive director of the Chamber. “We’re going to pull the trigger next week.”

Way is aiming for a late July/early August opening, when seating and foliage (provided by Patch Landscaping) will be installed. She acknowledges that the design rendering, courtesy of dSpaceStudio, “is a little more robust than what you’ll see this year.” In the future, the permitting process will run much more smoothly and the space will be open March through November.

“It’ll be cool and fun, relaxing and tranquil,” says Way. “It’ll be a place you’ll want to hang out.”

The city approached Lakeview as a partner in the pilot largely because of LAMP (Lakeview Area Master Plan), which calls for creating additional outdoor space for the neighborhood’s residents. “That made us attractive to them,” Way says.

The Chamber, in turn, identified Heritage Bikes as the ideal location because, according to Way, “They fit the mold of alternative transportation, they drive a sense of community…they have that built into their value system.”

Along with adding a people-friendly green space to our city’s asphalt jungle, the pop-up park is also drawing attention to an often under-appreciated stretch of Lincoln Avenue, and the businesses are responding in kind.

“There’s good stuff happening over there,” says Way, pointing to S&G, the Golden Apple and Discovery Center, all of which are prepping for facelifts. “They’re all making big investments in their block.”

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