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Logan Square Residents Refine Vision For Development Atop ‘L’ Station

Residents use blocks to visualize desirable development near the Logan Square Blue Line station.
Residents use wood blocks to visualize desirable development near the Logan Square Blue Line station. Photo: MPC

The second of three Corridor Development Initiative meetings last week collected more detailed feedback about what Logan Square residents hope to see replace a municipal parking lot and under-used bus transfer plaza atop the neighborhood’s ‘L’ station.

The meeting began with a brief audience survey whose results mirrored the findings from the previous meeting. During a short question-and-answer session, one attendee mentioned a recently confirmed proposal to develop the nearby Megamall property, which could include the grocery store that had arisen as a priority in the earlier meeting.

The bulk of the meeting focused on an exercise where small groups of participants stacked blocks of wood together, Lego-like, to visualize how different uses could fit into buildings and open space on the site. The resulting configurations evolved as individuals voiced different opinions, but all of the groups came to broadly similar conclusions: Housing should take the lion’s share of the space, especially on the tucked-away northern end, some retail should face the station, and a park should separate the two. Respondents either ignored parking, shoved it off to the side, or tucked it under the housing.

There was significant support for higher densities than the three stories typical of the surrounding neighborhood, with many groups presenting five-story buildings that could maximize the number of affordable housing units.  One group even suggested a hotel, given the lot’s location between the Loop and O’Hare Airport and its great skyline views.

Some attendees questioned the need to have a large bus depot, since many of the bus routes that once served what had been a major transfer terminal have been cut in the years since. Reducing the size of the turnaround would free up more space for buildings or park space, while removing the turnaround entirely could simplify the awkward route that the #76 Diversey takes and thus improve bus reliability.

Participants learned about how different land uses could be combined on the 1.5-acre site. Handout courtesy Metropolitan Planning Council.

35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón said that he was happy with the unique opportunity that the CDI has provided to give the community a chance to proactively detail its needs and wants, rather than just making comments on a plan from outside. However, he expressed disappointment at the lack of diversity at the meetings: only 20 percent of those attending this meeting identified as Latino or Hispanic, in contrast to 50 percent in the surrounding neighborhood The alderman said that could be because many area residents work long hours, which leaves little time for extra activities such as evening meetings.

Yonah Freemark of the Metropolitan Planning Council agreed with Colón’s assessment of the meeting’s diversity. Freemark reiterated MPC’s commitment to making the processes as open as possible, through outreach to neighborhood institutions, translations of all meeting materials, and a new "vote by text" system that garnered over 135 replies in its first week.

The third and final CDI meeting will be next Tuesday night, September 30, at 6 p.m. at 2810 N. Milwaukee Avenue. There, a panel of development experts will provide their feedback and analysis of the various development scenarios that residents crafted at the second meeting.

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