CDOT & Choose Chicago Join Alderman Osterman and Uptown United at Ribbon Cutting for Chicago Alfresco Site on Argyle Street
CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman and Choose Chicago today joined Uptown United and local stakeholders for the ribbon cutting for a new Chicago Alfresco installation at Argyle Street and Sheridan Road that provides expanded car-free space for outdoor dining and community programming in the popular north side strip known as Asia on Argyle. Uptown United is one of 15 local community organizations that will receive grants from Choose Chicago, the City’s tourism bureau, as part of Chicago Alfresco. The program is part of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s Open Chicago initiative designed to strengthen Chicago’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Argyle Street is known as a vibrant destination that features great restaurants and shops and a bustling Night Market,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “We applaud Uptown United and the Argyle Street community for seizing this opportunity to build on their strengths and create more opportunities for businesses and local artists to thrive. As Chicago continues to rebound from the pandemic, CDOT is focused on working with our community partners and putting our streets and public way in the service of what people and small businesses need and want in their neighborhoods.”
“Uptown United’s Argyle Alfresco program is an exciting addition to our community,” said Alderman Osterman. “Adding more outdoor dining space will help our local restaurants to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, while adding vibrancy to the street. The Shared Street concept on Argyle was designed to allow for more dynamic uses, and the Alfresco program aligns perfectly with that vision.”
“We applaud Choose Chicago and their sponsors for making a commitment to support our neighborhoods, local businesses and our arts community as Chicago continues to build back better than ever from the challenges of the last year-and-a-half,” said Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, who represented Mayor Lightfoot at the event. “The Chicago Alfresco project here in Uptown showcases the vitality of our immigrant community and how vital it is to Chicago’s success.”
Argyle Street is the site of a street re-design by CDOT in 2016 that created a curbless, shared street from Broadway to Sheridan Road that provides more space for pedestrians and the weekly night markets. Uptown United is using their grant for a placemaking project that features expanded dining and place-making, with use of the north and south parking lane of Argyle Street between North Broadway and Sheridan Road in Uptown’s 48th Ward. At some locations, a vehicular separation has been provided to allow for extended outdoor dining and place-making within the parking lane. Additional programming will block off vehicular traffic from a portion of the corridor to create space for programs such as the Argyle Night Music, Lunar New Year Celebration, and other programs hosted by Uptown United and other local partners.
“Uptown United in partnership with local businesses on Argyle Street are thrilled to launch this innovative new program,” said Justin Weidl, Business Manager for Uptown United. “Alfresco on Argyle will provide a vital boost to local, small businesses that have not only been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a rise in anti-Asian discrimination and violence. With a long history of small, locally owned Asian-American businesses; this program will enhance and leverage all of the recent and current efforts and activity on Argyle Street, such as the City’s first shared-street design and programs like the Argyle Night Market. We can’t thank Choose Chicago and CDOT enough for bringing this vision to reality.”
“This partnership is an outstanding example of what makes Chicago the Best Big City in the U.S.,” said Glenn Eden, Board Chair of Choose Chicago. “Thank you to Uptown United and all those involved in spearheading this Chicago Alfresco location. These community-designed spaces will provide one more way provide more to enjoy Uptown’s amazing food and local treasures. For those who haven’t had a chance to come to Uptown recently, I encourage you to visit as soon as you can – for the food, the culture, and now, for the Chicago Alfresco spot on Argyle.”
The Chicago Alfresco program demonstrates Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to supporting neighborhoods and businesses as the City continues to rebound from the pandemic. In 2020, the City introduced special permits that allowed bars and restaurants to operate outside in private parking lots, on the sidewalk or in closed streets through the Expanded Outdoor Dining program. For Chicago Alfresco, the City encouraged chambers of commerce and other neighborhood community groups to think beyond emergency traffic barricades and construction cones to propose and build design-forward outdoor community spaces.
Support for Chicago Alfresco is an integral part of Choose Chicago’s push for more neighborhood tourism. The tourism bureau is providing $2.3 million in grants to approved applicants of projects intended to help create more outdoor public space thanks to sponsor Diageo, owner of brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff and Crown Royal.
“Choose Chicago is thrilled to support the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities that call Uptown home,” said Rob Fojtik, lead for neighborhood strategy at Choose Chicago. “Our city is a cultural mecca because of its diverse and thriving immigrant communities, and it’s our hope that the Chicago Alfresco program will draw more visitors from near and far to our neighborhoods.”
The program produced an outpouring of creative ideas for transforming the public way into active community spaces for eating, street vending, storytelling, movie nights, and music and arts programming with the use of street furniture, pavement treatments, plantings, lighting, and other placemaking tools.