UPTOWN — After years of promises, the Broadway Streetscape plan will begin in earnest this year, according to 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman.
The ambitious plan calls for minor and major streetscape improvements, including new sidewalks, curbs, lighting and trees, and most significantly, the construction of a pedestrian plaza and "gateway" in front of the Riviera Theatre that could host outdoor concerts and events.
The plan has been proposed and deferred every year since 2014.
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE ORIGINAL STREETSCAPE PLAN PROPOSED IN MARCH 2014.
At the State of Uptown luncheon Thursday, Cappleman said the project would begin in earnest.
"You’ve been promised many, many times about the Broadway Streetscape," Cappleman said. "It was supposed to start in 2014, then it was going to start in 2015, then 2016."
Early plans first shared in 2014 cite as inspiration the plazas at Milwaukee and Division in Wicker Park and at Rush and State in the Gold Coast.
Cappleman also vowed on Thursday to firm up the timeline — saying the project would begin during "construction season" of this year — as soon as he could get a straight answer himself.
"I actually received an email yesterday that the Broadway Streetscape will start during construction season of this year. I am going back to them and saying, 'Could you define 'construction season'?'"
The plan's repeated false starts were largely due to infrastructure challenges like vaulted sidewalks, a relic from the city's earliest sidewalk-paving efforts in the mid-1800s that can cost thousands to millions of dollars to undo.
Cappleman committed to carrying the Broadway Streetscape across the finish line Thursday, calling the concept a necessity to revive the neighborhood's entertainment district.
"To help us get in that direction, looking at the big picture, we need to set the stage for it, and doing the streetscape will be part of that process," he said.
Improvements would start along Gunnison Avenue and "go all the way to Leland Avenue," Cappleman said.
After completion of the Wilson Reconstruction project, improvements will begin from Leland Avenue to Wilson Avenue, Cappleman said.
Here's the original plan for the streetscape, unveiled in 2014: