Car-Free Cappleman Touts Wilson Station Rehab as a Catalyst for TOD

Rendering of the new station, including the restored Gerber building.

At a community meeting Wednesday on the upcoming reconstruction of the Red Line’s Wilson stop, 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman argued that one of the best things about the new station is that it will encourage walkable, transit-friendly development.

“One of the things I’ve pushed for as alderman is transit-oriented development, [which is a] good, sound urban planning practice,” he told residents during the hearing at Truman College. “We want to create more density closest to the ‘L’ stop.”

Cappleman noted that 45 percent of ward residents don’t own cars. “I am one of those people,” he said. “We also found that that 50 percent of the disposable income that you spend is spent outside the ward. So if we are going to make this a livable, walkable community, we need to make sure you can do your shopping here. “

Rendering of the new main entrance on the south side of Wilson.

He added that the ward has been working with the mayor’s office and various city departments on strategies to fill empty storefronts near the station. “From my discussions with many developers, they are banging on the doors wanting to do something, so you’re going to see some exciting things, and it’s because of this Wilson ‘L’ stop,” Cappleman said. “The trick is making sure that, while we do that, we keep [the ward] as diverse as possible.”

At the meeting, officials updated residents on construction plans for the $203 million project, a massive overhaul of a station that RedEye readers have thrice voted Chicago’s grungiest. Originally built in 1923, the station has badly deteriorated over the last century, and it is not ADA accessible.

The new station will function as an additional transfer point between the Red and Purple lines, which means Uptown residents will be able to catch the Evanston Express for a faster ride downtown or to Evanston during rush hours. To accommodate Purple Line service, there will be two different “island” platforms, with canopies to shelter riders from the elements.

Rendering of the new "island" platforms.
Rendering of the new “island” platforms.

There are currently two entrances to the station, at the Wilson/Broadway intersection, and a third will be added a block south at Sunnyside. Two out of the three entrances will be accessible to people in wheelchairs. As part of the project, ‘L’ pillars along Broadway will be relocated to improve sightlines and create a less gloomy atmosphere under the tracks.

Historic preservationists at the hearing said they were glad that the CTA will restore the historic Gerber building at the northwest corner of Wilson/Broadway, including rebuilding its long-demolished clock tower. However, some expressed displeasure that the old Majestic Men’s Wear building, 4701 North Broadway, will be demolished to make way for the station’s new main entrance, although the vintage façade will be incorporated into the station design.

The project is slated for completion by fall 2017, and the station will remain open during the work. Pre-construcution will start next month, including relocation of some utilities, foundation work, and demolition of the menswear building, an unused freight structure, a CTA carpenter shop, and the Broadway Mall. Work on the new station will begin this spring. View a full explanation of the construction schedule here.

NW on Broadway_looking_northwest_on_Broadway
Rendering of the new tracks on Broadway.

When the floor was opened to questions, neighbors asked about minority participation in the construction work, the possibility of installing artwork by locals in the station, and what steps are being taken to reduce crime in the vicinity of the ‘L’ stop. On the last topic, Cappleman noted that the design includes additional fencing, brighter lighting, and the installation of over 100 security cameras.

One resident thanked Cappleman for pushing the CTA and the mayor’s office to get the station rehabbed, then asked about plans for dealing with rats who will be dispersed during the demolition work. “A lot of these buildings have been empty for many years, and there’s probably lots of vermin ready to scurry into my neighborhood.”

“We’re very aware of rat situation underneath the ‘L’ and the Gerber Building,” responded CTA staffer Jeffrey Wilson. “So we’re going to have a pre-construction rat abatement, during-construction rat abatement, post-construction rat abatement, and whenever-the-community-wants-rat-abatement rat abatement.”

  • duppie

    I’m really liking the idea of an exit/entrance on the southside of the station, near the Target/Aldi. Makes it even easier to shop there on your way home.

  • Alex Oconnor
  • FG

    What, Lake Michigan is a travesty?

  • Snake

    TOD might happen when they drastically reduce gang violence in the area.

  • Snake

    It doesn’t have a bike lane.

  • You’re talking about the new Sonic drive-through, right?

  • BlueFairlane

    There’s no TOD.

  • Uptown Revivalist

    The Majestic Mens Wear Building is on the corner of Broadway and Leland. The building which will be demolished unfortunately is the entrance to the Wilson L on the south side of Wilson where the Mexican restaurant was for a short time. I don’t understand why we’re tearing down 100 year old buildings in Uptown like Christmas trees in February. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. They’ll never make buildings like those again and we’re replacing them with temporary glass structures that will look dated in 20 years. Have we been presented with renderings of the Wilson Station’s interior? How will it be restored and/or reconfigured?

  • Yes but…the Purple Line Express goes primarily local south from there bypassing only two stops. The real benefit would be to to transferring customers and those traveling north to Evanston.

  • Uptown Revivalist

    I love the question about minority participation in the construction work. Presumably, this refers to citizens of African, Native American and Latin American ancestry. In the City of Chicago, those three groups represent over 60% of the population – hardly a minority.

  • Spaghetti Head

    Whites are still the largest group and dominate the construction business.

  • Good point, the Purple transfer will be especially useful for those traveling north. I’ve edited the piece accordingly.

  • Sorry about the error and thanks for the correction. I’ve edited the article to reflect this.

  • Just a thought, because 46 is already pretty walkable, but I’m guessing that a lot of people shop outside the ward because wards are pretty small units.

  • Ryne

    Shiller got employment for city construction sites from those within the neighborhood. I wonder if Cappleman will bring such employment to 46th ward residents

  • JasonMath

    Yup, and because it runs on the Brown Line tracks past Belmont, the travel time from Howard to the Loop on the Purple Line Express is only a few minutes faster than the Red Line. A transfer station is nice, but the line should really be rerouted to the Red Line tracks at the Belmont junction.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    The Majestic building is sweet. However its decrepit. Just be glad we are getting a state of the art station, that hopefully in 80 years tme people will still enjoy. Not eveything old can be or is worth saving. If there is extra city money out there for preservation, there’s a lot more worthy buildings in Uptown.

  • Alex Oconnor

    The whole strip along wilson east of broadway…and yes the sonic drive thru is especially abysmal

  • ThisManIsRight

    not to mention that ward boundaries are completely illogical to everyone except those trying to win elections in them. People feel connected to the neighborhood they live in, whether it’s Uptown or Humboldt or Pilsen or Beverly or Old Town – no one goes around being a “proud resident of the 26th/46th/11th/2nd/whatever”.

  • Denice Davis
  • R.A. Stewart

    I’ll bet there’s a Starbucks out there somewhere, though!

  • Whitey

    With more than 90% of contexts going to the “whites”.

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    How many people live a block or two from another ward? If I go to Walgreens at Clark and Wilson to flee the 46th ward for the 47th?

    It is a misleading stat without context. What is the norm citywide?

    I know Cappleman does not own a car but he can sit at the Sonics which i guess has to be what settles for a TOD in practice so far.

    Public art increases walkability by improving the experience. Instead of the progressive ideal of 1% and community share is instead .1% going to a single international artist. But everyone wohld rather talk about the rats.

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    They aee saving the facade…a massive support for 70′ span is going right behind t he wall.

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    I dint think Sonics is going to make it in the long run. They are doing ok…not great. It always was an experiment, the urban model of suburban TOD fast food not becoming a destination. The only new business is a medical center.

    If 4500 location Sonics has not announced new “urban” locations in ayear consider this Pollo Loco number II. It is a saturated maket….happens all the tjme right. Then no more Alderman tweets about tater tots….

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    I asked about that uo front with the mic, and the future use…should have asked about rats apparently it is a big deal.

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    It is out of Capplemans hands. This is a federally funded contract it works a certain way. It will not go higher or lower. It is not an aldermanic decision simply out and it never is.

    Why was Wilson Station alowed to crumble for so very long Ryne, please? Nothing happened.

    You are diing the campaining man…just run yourselandf f@#/ it.

  • Ryne

    The decision to redevelop the station was a federal and state one and it was made before Cappleman. If he is going to say his office pressured them to redevelop the site, then he should be willing to use his office to find employment for our neighborhood just like it was properly done with the wilson yard. He can’t take credit one day then say he can’t take criticism another.

  • Ryne

    And I have no interest in running for ANY office anytime soon. I’m radical, idealistic and unfriendly to people I find offensive. Moreover, I need to finish schooling and open my business before I even consider any of that.

  • Actually, African Americans have the plurality in Chicago, with 32.9 percent of the population, compared to 31.7 percent for non-Hispanic whites:

  • sid

    “I’m radical, idealistic and unfriendly to people I find offensive.”

    You are …by your own words…a bigot.


    a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

  • Ryne

    A bully’s bully and a bigot towards bigots. Yes sir

  • sid

    Your way or the highway…

    Is that right?

    Closed minded bully and bigot…


    So much for consensus, and working together to make Uptown a nice safe place for …ALL*… to live.

    *law abiding folks that is…

  • Guest

    It’s Sonic…not Sonics. And it is busy making money. Great to see the improvements being made in the Ward.

  • Guest

    Looking forward to the new Wilson stop and all the improvements! It is about time Uptown shines!!! Moving forward.

  • sid

    What will bring more jobs is more business…

    What will bring more business is to eradicate the ghetto gang atmosphere of Uptown…

    That is not to say that all poor people need be displaced.

    Only those who wish to sell drugs, carry guns, and wildly shoot up the place

  • Spaghetti Head

    Sid, would you consider Larry Elder to be a bully and/or bigot?

  • Spaghetti Head

    Any stats on the construction business?

  • **

    It would be really good to retain materials from 1111 W. Wilson (the former Mexican restaurant) for possible future re-use in Uptown.

    Human-scale, pedestrian-friendly streetscaping has been a big focus in Uptown. There’s no plan yet for the lot next to the station and the renderings for the parking lot to the north of the Gerber Building suggest that that space will need more work in order to correspond to the goal of opening up the under-bridge area to encourage pedestrian activity. So there may be a lot of opportunities for doing something creative with historic materials that, per the historical survey ( have been part of the Uptown landscape for 100 years.

  • sid

    Does Larry Elder live in Uptown?

    You say you don’t…

    Or are you a liar?

    I’d say that he is a successful business man who has managed to transcend the racial divide on his own terms.

    And thats what gives you hives (and sprouts more of your sock puppets)

    But lets dispense with the strawman shall we?

    I was driving home west up Wilson …from work…Saturday night at around 1130 (get off at 11pm half my week), and it was downright sketchy there at the corner of Malden.

    A kid I’ve seen around on his bike always wearing an oversized white tshirt along that block between Magnolia Malden and the alley behind the Subway, was doing lazy circles on Wilson, and yelled something as I passed by him.

    Seemed he was daring traffic to hit him.

    On the southside sidewalk was a gaggle of young men -maybe 10 or 12- leaning against cars and clotting up the path.

    Just as I was about even with the distracting little snot on the bicycle, a shiny white Escalade ran the stop sign headed north on Malden. Glad I didn’t hit him.

    You want to see bullies and bigots…Thats where you need to go soggy noodle head.

    We are moving in barely a block from there in just a few weeks, and the Red Line would be a commute option for me.

    But do you (no not you noodlehead sockpuppet-talking to the spreadsheet folks who don’t quantify such things as this vignette) think I am willing to walk that gauntlet after a hard evening’s work?

    Again. As along as the gang ghetto atmosphere in Uptown is supported by fools such as yourself and Ryne and others, no matter what you do with the Wilson station, Uptown will continue to disappoint all…

    Except for perhaps the saggy poopy pants bangers who are bigoted bullies with a propensity to show that through vandalism and violence…and snide sock puppets such as yourself.

  • Spaghetti Head

    Try Sanka.

  • FG

    What, in the lake? All I see is a sliver of city and a big piece of the lake.

  • FG

    Pretty minimal – most of the MWBE contractors qualify because of a female owner. Contractors who can handle a transit contract would be overwhelmingly white owned.

    IIRC during the Harold Washington library construction they insisted on minority participation and many of the smaller (would have happened with non-minority as well) companies went bankrupt because of the lag in payment (bigger companies can cover this through more contracts at any given time – they know they will be paid, but that it will not be rapid like a private client) that is a part of doing government work.

    To me, the real metric should be employee’s, not owners of companies.

  • Hey folks, please refrain from personal attacks. These will be deleted in the future. Thanks.

  • BlueFairlane

    That’s the joke.

  • sid

    Fair ‘nuf

    I didn’t have to engage Ryne…

    But, how about shutting down sockpuppets …such as spaghettihead, fgmg, et al, who bring up topics from other blogs, and only serve to distract and troll the conversation, as well?

  • FG

    I’m sure there’s Tod’s, just not from a boutique but from somebody’s car trunk. Oh, you mean TOD….

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    Its Chronic not Sonic and since when has a drive thru been a big deal?

  • Jeffrey Littleton

    Sonics is….cheap.


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