Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Alderman James Cappleman (46th Ward) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today for the ribbon cutting of the Broadway Streetscape Project, marking a major milestone in the revitalization and rebirth of the Uptown Entertainment District. The ribbon cutting took place in a new pedestrian plaza at Broadway Street and Racine Avenue in front of the Riviera Theater. The plaza features a large sculpture of a color wheel, which reflects the diversity of the community.
“The Uptown Streetscape Project is the latest investment in a vibrant neighborhood, creating jobs in the community and ensuring modern infrastructure for residents,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Along with our investments in the CTA and the Uptown Theatre, this streetscape project will revitalize the Uptown entertainment district, giving residents and visitors another way to experience world-class culture in one of the City’s most storied neighborhoods.”
The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the first phase of a CDOT streetscape project on Broadway Street and Lawrence Avenue, which was coordinated with community representatives and Alderman Cappleman. The first phase involved modernizing the streetscape on Broadway Street between Leland Avenue and Gunnison Street, and Lawrence Avenue between Broadway Street and the CTA Red Line Station. The second phase of the Streetscape project is starting later this month and will extend on Broadway Street from Leland to Wilson Avenues.
“The Broadway Streetscape is a vital piece of the larger vision for the Uptown Entertainment District,” said Alderman James Cappleman. “These major infrastructure improvements have helped attract new businesses to a thriving retail corridor and have lured well-known entertainment venues to a neighborhood that is geared to their needs.”
The streetscape project included full-width resurfacing of the roadway, a gateway community identifier, new sidewalks, new lighting, new bike racks and trash receptacles, new crosswalks and a pedestrian refuge island at Broadway Street and Racine Avenue. It also reconfigures the intersection of Broadway Street and Racine Avenue to create space for the community plaza.
“We are very pleased with how the streetscape improvements enhance the overall quality of life as well as traffic safety for pedestrians, bike riders and everyone who lives in and visits the Uptown community,” said CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. “New sidewalks, pavers, identifiers and the pedestrian plaza create a unique sense of place for this historic neighborhood.”
The lead designer for the $6 million streetscape project was Transystems, with Altamanu serving as the landscape architect. Altamanu worked with Chicago artist Lowell Thompson on the design for the centerpiece of the project, a large sculptural color wheel in the new plaza in front of the Riviera. It will serve as a unique gateway identifier for the neighborhood. The contractor for the first phase was Acura and the contractor for the second phase is Enlight. Construction management services for both phases are provided AECOM.
Mayor Emanuel has led a major City effort to revitalize the Uptown neighborhood that was once home to the largest entertainment venues in Chicago outside the Loop, including the Uptown and Riviera theaters and the Aragon Ballroom. Last year, Mayor Emanuel announced a $75 million project to rehabilitate the iconic Uptown Theatre, fulfilling a commitment the Mayor made in his first term. The 94-year-old landmark building, vacant for more than 35 years, will be used for a variety of live performances and special events.
Additionally, the CTA recently completed the $203 million reconstruction of the CTA’s Wilson Avenue Station, including the Gerber Building. This newly rebuilt station is an economic engine for the Uptown neighborhood, where new developments and businesses have been announced or launched near the Wilson station since the project began construction in 2014.
Public transit in Uptown will be enhanced by the planned renovations of the Lawrence and Argyle CTA stations, part of a $2.1 billion initiative to expand the North Side capacity of the CTA’s Red and Purple lines.