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Experts Weigh in at Third and Final Logan Square Corridor Meeting

By Darryl Holliday | October 1, 2014 9:09am
 "Guidelines" for the Logan Square Blue Line station set affordable housing and green space as goals.
Logan Square Corridor Meeting
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LOGAN SQUARE — The final installment of three meetings set to provide a framework for development at the Logan Square Blue Line station concluded as a panel of experts reviewed resident proposals.

More than 180 people gathered at the Hairpin Arts Center, 2801 N. Milwaukee Ave., Tuesday night, many returning to the public series after using building blocks and an aerial map of Logan Square’s Milwaukee Corridor Development Initiative to visualize what combination of development resources could be used in the area.

Out of the 28 building block designs laid out for the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard on Sept. 16, four were chosen for an hour-long analysis by a panel of professional developers Tuesday night.

All 28 designs revealed a funding gap of anywhere from $3.2 million to $13.1 million dollars, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council. But identifying the range of development plans could help residents make difficult "trade-off" decisions for the neighborhood as a $492 million renovation of the Blue Line introduces the possibility of transit-oriented development at the Logan Square station.

Of the proposals developed over three meetings, affordable housing consistently topped the list, in no small part due to a consistent contingent of Bickerdike representatives and tenants who attended each public meeting in support of establishing subsidized housing for low-income residents at the site.

According to Marisa Novara, program director at the Metropolitan Planning Council, polling outside the three meetings found comparable support for full market rate apartments at the location.

The Council’s expert panel consisted of Sarah Wick, a project manager for Related Midwest; Todd Cabanban of Cabanban Rubin and Mayberry and Mikki Anderson, vice president of The Michaels Organization.

Suggestions from the panel members included adding retail shops and multifamily buildings at the site, rethinking the direction of Kedzie Avenue and considering upcoming plans at the nearby Megamall site in connection with redevelopment along the corridor.

“The Megamall and new development could change some things you want to see,” Cabanban said, cautioning against tying retail too closely to transit around the Blue Line station while noting that the area is a “very important retail intersection.”

“I think you’ll continue to see an evolution of retail and retail uses” as the area continues to develop, he added.

While 75 percent of the hands-on designs showed a retail component, one resident at Tuesday’s meeting questioned using the public land for “private good” while others voiced clear support for residential building on the Blue Line station lot that would be 100 percent affordable housing.

Those proposals and others will eventually be printed, bound and used as reference packets for upcoming developers and development plans, according to Ald. Rey Colon (35th).

“These scenarios are guidelines. Everything is a give and take,” he said. “This gives an opportunity for people to see these are the values of our neighborhood. Before they even out paper to pen they’ll know what the neighborhood wants.”

Meetings regarding the central corridor will continue throughout the process as representatives from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Department of Transportation weigh in and and zoning changes eventually come before residents in mandatory public hearings.

As part of the planning process the Metropolitan Planning Council is inviting community members who couldn’t attend the meetings to weigh in on the designs via an online survey.

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