UPTOWN — The city's makeover of the Argyle Street area in Uptown will include a 15-foot vertical sign just south of the intersection of West Argyle Street and North Broadway.
The structure is one of several ways officials plan to help "heighten Argyle's visibility," said Sara Dinges, a spokeswoman for Ald. Harry Osterman (48th).
"Argyle is already a destination throughout the city," Dinges said. "And people come from other states every weekend to visit Argyle — but we just want to continue to make it even more of a destination so people know as they drive up Broadway that they're approaching Argyle."
The sign will be a concrete base with an aluminum pole planted on it bearing colored bands and stainless steel letters on a red background, according to renderings. It will be accompanied by a new pedestrian traffic island and a left turn lane.
The identifier is one of many changes coming to the Argyle Street area starting this fall, including a streetscape project that will eliminate curbs, force cars below 15 miles per hour and create a shared space for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Osterman has said the makeover of the Argyle area, home to a significant Asian population from various countries and many thriving Asian-owned businesses, is "critical in the future development of Uptown," and complements plans to transform Uptown's entertainment district.
His hope is that the changes boost business and instill a feeling of safety in the area, which has issues with vacant storefronts, vagrancy, drug activity and occasional shootings.
Osterman's office allowed people to vote online earlier this month for the design of the sign. People could choose between "Option A", which won with 320 votes, and "Option B", which had 242 votes, according to the 48th Ward.
Option B was about 5 feet shorter than the winner. It featured colored metal panels with vinyl letters spelling "Argyle."
Some neighbors, like Uptown resident Elizabeth Lindau, said they worried keeping the structure clean would be tougher compared to the simpler aluminum identifier, or called Option B's design "too busy."
But Phie Tran, co-owner of Tai Nam Market, said his first guess was that people would prefer Option B "because it has an Asian look." However, most people he's talked to about the options at his store, 4925 N. Broadway, favored the winning choice.
"I guess because it is taller and the word 'Argyle' really stands out," Tran said.
"I also think," added Tran, who voted for Option A, "that people would like to view this area as an international area rather than just Asian town."
The area is "an unsung hero," when it comes to drawing visitors from the city and out of town, said Tran, adding that the streetscaping effort "will give us some extra attention."
Edgewater resident William Walker Robinson Jr. worried that city plans to reduce Broadway from a four-lane to a two-lane street and add bike lanes will cause traffic jams on Broadway, especially near the entrance to the strip mall where Tai Nam is located.
"But frankly, anything to try to spruce that corridor up would help," he said.
The budget for the entire Argyle makeover is just under $3 million and will begin in the fall, said Dinges. The cost of the sign wasn't immediately available, and the Chicago Department of Transportation didn't respond to requests for the price on Thursday.
The first piece of the Argyle redesign effort was the "Asia on Argyle" sign outside the Argyle 'L' station that cost $260,000 in tax increment finance dollars and got mixed reviews after its installation early last year.
Click here for a December presentation detailing the "Shared Street" concept planned on Argyle.