The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Master Plan Could Pave Way For Transit-Oriented Development In Jeff Park

By Heather Cherone | September 16, 2016 6:34am
 A master plan will
A master plan will "evaluate how the city could improve access" to the Jefferson Park Transit Center, officials said.
View Full Caption
DNAInfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — An effort to craft a master plan that could shape the future of development in the Jefferson Park Business District will start this fall, now that it has the backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, officials said.

The master plan could help resolve a fierce debate over whether Jefferson Park should remain a suburban-like haven or allow denser developments near transit hubs and business districts.

The plan, which will take approximately a year to complete, will "evaluate how the city could improve access" to the Jefferson Park Transit Center, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to a statement from the mayor's office announcing Emanuel's support for the study, which has been in the works for more than a year.

The Regional Transit Authority will pay 80 percent of the $125,000 tab, with funds from the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District covering the rest, said Owen Brugh, chief of staff to Ald. John Arena (45th).

Arena vowed to make the revitalization of the Jefferson Park Business District his highest priority after winning re-election in 2015.

The master plan will focus on properties within a ¼-mile of the transit center, which has stations for the CTA Blue Line, Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line and 13 bus lines, officials said.

Developments within a short distance of public transportation can be denser, and provide fewer parking spaces under the city's transit-oriented development ordinance. That law has been a flash point of controversy in Jefferson Park and on the Far Northwest Side.

Since his election to the City Council in 2011, Arena has argued that the key to revitalizing neighborhood shopping districts — like the one centered around Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues — is to increase the amount of people living there to attract shops and restaurants that will benefit the entire community.

But others — including the majority of members of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association — contend the effort to make the area less dependent on cars and more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists will do nothing to fill long-empty storefronts while inconveniencing residents of the neighborhood who depend on cars to get around by slowing traffic and removing parking spaces.

Three major developments in Jefferson Park are working their way through the city bureaucracy with Arena's support.

One would build 39 apartments and 10 shops on Lawrence Avenue, while another would build a 13-story tower with 103 apartments next to the transit center. A third project would transform a long-vacant former concrete company storage facility across the street from the transit center into a 48-unit apartment complex.

While all of the projects are within a few blocks of the transit center, none asked city officials for special permission under the transit-oriented development ordinance. All include at least one parking spot for each apartment.

A master plan that focuses on Jefferson Park's future and develops a strategic economic development plan will benefit the entire 45th Ward, Arena has said.

A similar plan, completed in 2013 for the Six Corners Shopping District, concluded that the area must become more dense and walkable to reclaim its status as one of Chicago's premier shopping districts.

Arena has credited the master plan with spurring the ongoing revitalization of Six Corners, where two major projects are under construction and two dozen new shops and restaurants have opened during the last several years.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: