UPTOWN — Two distressed viaducts in Uptown along Lake Shore Drive will have murals installed on them this year that will "set the tone" for entering Uptown's entertainment district, according to Ald. James Cappleman (46th).
The North Side alderman sent an email Friday to residents in his ward, asking for input on the murals, which would go under deteriorating viaducts at Wilson and Lawrence avenues.
The murals will serve "as a way of welcoming anyone who enters the ward through Lake Shore Drive," and "will set the tone for entering into the Entertainment District...which will be a huge economic boost to the [w]ard and the entire region," Cappleman said.
He said state officials have plans to rebuild the crumbling viaducts, which are sorely in need of repair and new paint jobs, "but we expect it will take several more years for that funding to be released."
That's why temporary makeovers are slated in the meanwhile.
"During this waiting period, I have budgeted to have these [two] viaducts scraped and repainted and I'll add some brighter lighting as well," Cappleman said. "To make this area more welcoming, I will be releasing additional funds to pay for murals to be installed along these [two] viaducts."
In the past, Uptown residents have complained about inadequate lighting under the viaducts, and also about homeless people who frequently sleep under the structures.
People with ideas about how the murals should look can email the 46th Ward or drop in Cappleman's office until May 1. Cappleman's email said murals "with simple designs that have celebratory themes are encouraged."
Uptown economic development organization Uptown United will work with Cappleman's office to narrow down the ideas to four entries before eventually letting area residents vote for their favorite two.
After the murals are chosen, Cappleman said he will work with the city to find artists and high school students to paint the murals. Additional funding for the initiative could come from individuals and corporate donors, according to Cappleman's email.
It wasn't immediately clear this week how much the viaduct projects would cost or when they would start. A spokeswoman for Cappleman's office wasn't reachable for comment Monday.