LAKEVIEW — Clark Street may be getting spruced up.
The strip of Clark from Diversey Parkway to Barry Avenue has been losing businesses and lacks the same flavor of the rest of Lakeview’s business corridors — and the Clark Street Task Force, run by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, wants to change that.
There are a lot of empty storefronts and many businesses "are barely hanging on,” said York Chan, a South East Lake View Neighbors member who sits on the task force. “It’s been an ongoing problem.”
The Lakeview East Chamber-run SSA 8, or special service area, is funding a study of the street to explore ways to make it more inviting for pedestrians and business, said Maureen Martino, the chamber’s executive director.
Reseach by the planning and urban design company The Lakota Group will include pedestrian count, physical streetscape conditions and development issues.
Solutions will be a combination of short-term ways to make the street be more inviting — trees, planters — and longer-term ideas like widening the sidewalk. The aim is to create a financially viable plan, Martino said.
While the SSA could fund some smaller projects like adding greenery or cleaning up, more expensive efforts like the "dream" of widening the sidewalk would require partnerships, perhaps with the city, Martino said.
"We'll look at low hanging fruit and see what we can fix right away," Martino said.
SSA's are local tax districts that typically fund beautification and public maintenance projects.
The task force is made up of local business owners, property owners, an aldermanic representative, retail specialists, and someone from the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development.
They aim to release a finished plan by June. Before then, residents will have a chance to see ideas at a series of chamber-sponsored open houses, the first scheduled for spring. The goal is to solicit feedback from the community, said David Collins, the chamber's community development manager.
Those who can't attend will have online options to voice their opinions.
"We’re looking for depth," Collins said. "We’re looking for people who work in the neighorhood and live in the neighborhood to help us with solutions."