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CHICAGO – Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi today joined 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin and the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce at the ceremonial ribbon cutting for Northcenter Town Square, a new pedestrian plaza in the heart of the neighborhood’s shopping district built atop a former side street, helping activate the area and support local businesses as Chicago reopens and recovers from the pandemic.
“This inviting, spacious gathering spot in the heart of North Center is a great example of what we can achieve when we partner with communities to re-imagine our streets,” Biagi said. “As Chicago’s neighborhoods reemerge from the pandemic, this project demonstrates how targeted investments can bring life back to our local streets and make them better places to walk, shop and meet safely.”
Through the “Our Streets” program, CDOT and the Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration have been piloting new uses for city streets, creating more than 10 miles of temporary Shared Streets, allowing Chicagoans to walk, push strollers and bike safely. In addition, more than 300 restaurants have participated in Make Way for Dining, which uses space normally reserved for cars to temporarily create space for safe, outdoor dining, allowing hard-hit local restaurants to resume table service.
Chicago’s first Shared Street under the Our Streets program was created this year by CDOT and Alderman Martin in the 47th Ward on Leland between Lincoln and Clark Street.
The Northcenter Town Square Streetscape Project grew out of efforts by the local Chamber of Commerce, Alderman Martin and his predecessor to enhance quality of life for North Center neighbors and businesses and encourage additional economic development in this neighborhood. It created a new town square by closing a small segment of West Belle Plaine Avenue between North Lincoln Avenue and North Damen Avenue. The $2 million project delivered numerous improvements including street furniture such as tables, chairs and benches; new pavers; lighting upgrades; landscaping; a play mound; and a turf area. The focal point of the plaza is a raised performance space with an overhead canopy.
“I am thrilled to see this project finally complete after years of community consultation led by my predecessor, Ameya Pawar. In these times of anxiety, our neighbors feel an increased need for public space for pedestrians to spend time outside in a socially distanced manner," said Alderman Martin. “I look forward to continuing Alderman Pawar's work of highlighting the unique identity of each neighborhood in our ward and improving public spaces to make our communities more walkable and welcoming to residents, visitors, and businesses alike.”
"As longtime stewards of Northcenter Town Square, we are excited to see the future of our beloved neighborhood space," said Lindsay Eanet, Executive Director of the Northcenter Chamber. "This is the result of years of the Chamber, residents, business owners and local government collaborating and pushing forward on a shared vision for a vibrant and accessible year-round public space that welcomes everyone to our amazing neighborhood.”
The Northcenter Special Service Area (SSA #38) will be responsible for maintaining the upgrades.
• Expanded community plaza space with pavers
• Performance area with a stage, canopy and a turf sitting area
• New lighting
• Pedestrian safety improvements including crosswalks and bump-outs
• Trees and landscaping
• Site furnishings
Civiltech was the design engineering firm for the project, while the original concept plan was created by Port, an urban design firm which was hired by the Chamber at the outset of the project and created the vision for the plaza. The general contractor was Sumit Construction Company and the construction manager was AECOM.
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