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Wilson Red Line Station Renovation: CTA Seeks Contractor for $203M Project

 The nearly 100-year-old Wilson station will be renovated as part of a $203 million effort.
Wilson station rehab
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UPTOWN — The Chicago Transit Authority is seeking a general contractor for the $203 million reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line Station.

The project is scheduled to kick off in the fall and is touted as a linchpin of revitalization plans in Uptown.

The CTA announced Friday it has opened the bidding process to prospective contractors. The reconstruction is one of the largest "L" station projects in CTA's history, according to the agency.

The renovated Wilson station, located at Wilson Avenue and Broadway, would be the sole Red/Purple line transfer point between the Belmont and Howard stops. It would have two elevators, making it the first wheelchair-accessible station between the Addison stop in Lakeview and the Granville stop in Edgewater.

 A flock of pigeons hangs out on the Wilson 'L' platform in Uptown.
A flock of pigeons hangs out on the Wilson 'L' platform in Uptown.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

Support beams under the tracks would be moved from the street to the sidewalk — out of the way of drivers on Broadway, officials said.

Reconstruction plans include the restoration of the station's 90-year-old terra cotta facade and the clock tower at the former station entrance at the northwest corner of Wilson and Broadway.

CTA President Forrest Claypool compared the potential economic impact on the area to "benefits the South Side will gain from the $240 million reconstruction of the 95th Street Terminal that begins next year.”

“A revitalized Wilson station will strengthen the historic Uptown neighborhood with an attractive, modern station that provides improved transit options and connections for CTA customers and generates new retail and related economic development," Claypool said in a statement.

Commercial and retail construction next to the station is a separate initiative from the main reconstruction project. But CTA and the city "will work closely with the Uptown community on future development around the Wilson station," according to CTA.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has said the vacant retail stretch under the station in the 4600 block of North Broadway suffers from leaky roofs due to the mounds of pigeon waste corroding the structures.

The consequences of having all those empty storefronts include less retail options, less tax revenue, fewer jobs and fewer "eyes on the street," he said, calling the intersection of Wilson and Broadway the "epicenter" of area crime.


CTA officials said in October that several empty buildings under the tracks on Wilson, including the Broadway Mall, will be demolished as part of the reconstruction.

An architect who performed a study about alternative uses for the nearby Wilson Men's Club Hotel at 1124 W. Wilson Ave. said in November that the owner was looking into alternative uses for the single-room-occupancy hotel because of lingering community concerns about safety in and around the hotel, and because the Wilson "L" reconstruction was ushering change into the area.

CTA is holding a "pre-bid conference," on May 15 at the station, where bidders are invited to a tour of the station and a question-and-answer session. Bids for the project will be accepted through June 18.

CTA plans to submit a contractor to its board for final approval in August, and a "notice to proceed" with the three-year project could be issued in September, the agency said. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. The station will remain open throughout reconstruction, CTA said.

A CTA spokeswoman said the agency seeks the lowest bidder within the project's $203 million budget, but did not have specifics about how much the contract could be worth.

The project is funded by $170 million from the state's Illinois Jobs Now! program, $30 million from the Federal Transit Administration and $3 million in tax increment financing, according to the CTA.

Ben Woodard contributed to this report.