Local Residents Want More Housing at Logan Square Blue Line Station
Logan Square residents came out in droves last week for the first of three meetings about redeveloping the Logan Square Blue Line station and an adjacent city-owned parking lot. About 170 people participated, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council, and 220 attendees are expected for round two tomorrow night.
With overlapping street redesign and development projects already in the works for this area, now is an opportune moment to discuss the future of the station and its surroundings. CDOT will select a consultant in the fall to redesign the Logan Square traffic circle, and the agency intends to hold a public planning process next year to make the section of Milwaukee Avenue from Belmont to Logan Boulevard better for walking, biking, and transit. Additionally, 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón has asked the Department of Planning and Development to look at what can be developed at the station plaza and parking lot, MPC reports [PDF].
Ideas from these public planning sessions, which MPC is hosting at the request of Colón, will be incorporated into a forthcoming request for proposals from DPD and the Chicago Transit Authority to develop the station and parking lot.
Last week, facilitators led groups of eight to ten residents in roundtable discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of the neighborhood and the station area. “This meeting isn’t like other meetings, where you can choose between red or brown brick,” said MPC project director Marisa Novara. Instead of presenting a limited menu, residents will contribute ideas together.
At the group where I sat, people liked that Logan Square is a place where you don’t need to own a car because of its walkability and that it has a good range of housing types, but they wanted more affordable housing. Our group could have also talked endlessly about the intersections around the station and the traffic circle: One person said “it takes forever to cross legally,” with the signals.
At tomorrow’s meeting, residents will work with blocks and drawing materials alongside volunteers from architecture firms to “help sketch detailed development design and land use concepts,” said MPC project manager Yonah Freemark. He added that real estate and development professionals, including Logan Square developer Noah Gottlieb, will come to evaluate the concepts and “identify project weaknesses and opportunities.”
Before leaving last week’s meeting, 90 residents participated in a short survey about the Logan Square train station and the adjacent parking lot. Asked if they wanted development on the Emmett Street parking lot, 36 percent said, “yes, with no need for parking” while 50 percent said, “yes, but with some parking for the development or the public.”
When they were asked for their number one priority, 45 percent answered “affordable housing.” Open and green space took second place with 20 percent of the vote. When asked what type of development they’d like to see on the parking lot, most people answered “housing.” Regarding developing the train station plaza, most people wanted community, recreation, or open space, but a sizable portion — 22 percent — said they wanted housing.
The poll also revealed a demographic mismatch between people who came to the meeting and the overall population of Logan Square. Two-thirds of attendees were white, a larger share than the neighborhood as a whole, which is more than 45 percent Hispanic. Freemark said he’s working actively with Alderman Colon and “local organizations, including the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, and Hispanic Housing, to encourage attendance by residents representing the diversity of the neighborhood.”
Freemark also noted that MPC is providing live translation services in Spanish, as well as Spanish-language versions of all meeting materials, at all three meetings.
The next meeting is Tuesday night at 6 p.m., 2810 N Milwaukee Avenue, where participants will contribute development concepts for the Logan Square Blue Line station and Emmett Street parking lot.