WEST ROGERS PARK — An ambitious $15 million, years-long project to give bustling Devon Avenue a facelift should break ground this year, city officials said.
The project aims to widen sidewalks and add artwork and trees along the street loaded with Indian food restaurants, ethnic grocery stores and a dense Jewish population.
Janet Attarian, the project's director with the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the first phase of construction between Sacramento and California avenues would begin in the fall or in spring 2014.
The four-block stretch would be the first of five sections of Devon Avenue to get the facelift. Work on the final section, from Kedzie to Sacramento avenues, would be begin spring 2016.
All told, the streetscape would extend from Kedzie to Leavitt avenues.
The city said $13.3 million of funding for the project will come from the area's tax increment financing district, while the remaining $1.7 million will come from a grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.
In a presentation to the community, Attarian said the roadway would be reduced to 11 feet per lane to make way for bigger sidewalks and to discourage double parking.
Curb "bump outs" would also be installed at intersections to reduce the distance pedestrians need to cross the street.
The city designated the majority of Devon Avenue's business district as the most dangerous stretch of road on the North Side, according to the Transportation Department's 2011 pedestrian crash analysis report.
Business owners expressed concern for their customers and families after a series of deadly accidents, including the death of Tsering Dorjee, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, leaving his homemaker wife behind with three children.
The city said it would not add bike lanes to Devon Avenue, but would add more locations to lock up bicycles.
Some intersections, including at Sacramento and Devon avenue, would be "stamped" with a decorative circular design on the pavement.
On side streets, the city plans to add potted plants and metal seats arranged like they would be in a "living room" to encourage people to sit and converse, Attarian said.
Colorful, decorative screens would also be added behind the seating areas.
Attarian said the expanded sidewalks could allow for business owners to install sidewalk cafes in front of their stores.