UPTOWN — Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) vowed to help Argyle Street business owners "survive" year-long construction on the Argyle Streetscape, which kicks off Monday.
"When it's done, it's going to be a huge amenity," Osterman told a group of Argyle Street business owners at Hon Kee Restaurant, 1064 W. Argyle St., Wednesday afternoon. The meeting was held to field any final questions before construction crews take over Argyle Street for a year to transform it into Chicago's first shared street.
Business owners like Ellen Duong, whose family owns Qideas, 1134 W. Argyle St., said at the meeting that she's concerned that construction crews will leave the street looking messy and therefore uninviting to potential customers.
Osterman said while he doesn't "want [crews] to leave it looking crappy," the construction is involved, and includes ripping up the sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
"We're digging up the entire street, so it's going to be a mess. It's going to be dirty and dingy," Osterman said.
Duong previously said that recent construction on the century-old water main was was "really bad for her family-owned shop.
Another concern is that business owners will have difficulty accessing their shipments, which come via large semi-trucks sometimes as often as five times a week.
Osterman said communication between business owners and his office will be key.
"If you have a shipment coming in and you need something moved, call us," he said.
Though some parking spaces will be lost when the streetscape is completed in the spring, all of the businesses' loading zones will remain. But Hannah Higgins, a project manager with the city's Department of Transportation, said businesses may need to share loading zones.
Crews are currently slated to work during the week from 8 a.m. to sometime between 6 - 8 p.m., but Osterman said he's interested in letting them work at night.
"It's an option we'll explore," said Osterman, adding that it's not a heavy residential area.
In addition to slowing traffic down, Osterman hopes the streetscape project will foster community and ultimately reduce crime.
"We're not building this so they can hang out there and do what they were doing," he said referring to gang members or people who drink in the public way.
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