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Uptown Entertainment District Could Include Food Trucks

 The $6 million streetscape project is scheduled to start next year.
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UPTOWN — Officials in Uptown want the city to allot space for food trucks in its streetscaping plans for the neighborhood's entertainment district.

A $6 million streetscape project focused on the area around Broadway and Lawrence Avenue would begin in 2015 and build a plaza outside the Riviera Theatre called Racine Plaza. The Chicago Department of Transportation plan would also give nearby North Clifton Avenue a European-style makeover and build "Clifton Plaza" there.

Uptown United, the community's economic development organization, and the office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) both said this week that food trucks should be a part of the equation.

Cappleman's chief of staff, Tressa Feher, said the alderman hoped Racine Plaza will be built with space for food trucks.

Uptown United President Alyssa Berman-Cutler emphasized that an injection of new businesses around the plazas is vital to streetscape plans and to revitalizing that area, which is rife with empty storefronts.

That figures to be a gradual process, and won't necessarily be an easy one. Berman-Cutler said food trucks could help bridge the gap between the plan's infant stage and its full maturation.

"Food truck spaces can make sure there's more initial life right there," Berman-Cutler said.

Berman-Cutler said the city has been receptive to the idea and is "doing some measurements right now to figure out exactly where" food trucks could go. Bike lanes on Broadway would have to be considered in the agency's measurements, she said.

City transportation officials and city planners working on the project were not reachable for comment Thursday.

For more information about the city's streetscape plan, click here.

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