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What Do You Want From The Belmont Flyover? CTA Asks Neighbors To Weigh In

By Josh McGhee | March 15, 2017 8:10am
 A public meeting to solicit development ideas will be held in late spring or early summer, the CTA said.
A public meeting to solicit development ideas will be held in late spring or early summer, the CTA said.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

LAKEVIEW — Along Adam Rosa's daily commute from Belmont Station to his Lakeview home, there aren't many options to grab fresh food.

There's the Walgreens at Belmont and Sheffield Avenues and the Target opening at 3200 N. Clark St., "which will fill a little bit of the niche," he said.

"One thing we'll need is a grocery store, a place to get milk and buy food," said Rosa, president of Hawthorne Neighbors, a Lakeview neighborhood group.

The suggestion was just one of many the urban planner brought to Tuesday's "stakeholder meeting" hosted by the CTA to formalize its transit-oriented development plan. The meeting is the first of two designed to solicit ideas from people living near the Belmont bypass (or flyover) of the Red and Purple Line Modernization project, CTA officials said.

 A rendering from the Belmont Flyover plan.
A rendering from the Belmont Flyover plan.
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After soliciting advice from neighbors, the CTA will begin drawing up a transit-oriented development plan, which the agency called "a proactive effort ... to create a community-driven guide for future development."

At Tuesday's meeting, attendees were asked to weigh in on such topics as neighborhood opportunity, land use and urban design ideas that the CTA presented in partnership with architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, which was hired to develop the plan.

While Rosa's neighborhood group initially was "formally opposed" to the flyover, now that it's a reality, the group will partner with CTA to ensure the development benefits the community, he said.

"Our main concern is when they look to demolish buildings at Clark and Wilton, what happens to those spaces? Because redevelopment isn't going to come until the flyover is complete," said Rosa. "It's important to consider short-term impacts [and] how to activate the space."

Rosa's redevelopment ideas include a high-intensity, mixed-use development that "fits the character of the neighborhood, but also looks to the future," he said.

In November, the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce took over the neighborhood's 2017 property tax budget and promised that cosmetic improvements, along with crime reduction, would be top priorities in the immediate future.

Tuesday, Executive Director Maureen Martino said officials should be looking to make the area feel less residential and more like "a tourism destination," she said.

"We don't want it to look like suburbia in the middle of the entertainment district," said Martino.

With the renovations already underway at Wrigley Field, developers should be thinking about adding hotels, drawing more young residents and embracing the entertainment district with rock or blues clubs, she said.

Residents can expect the first public meeting, which will also solicit development ideas from the community, in early summer, CTA said.