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Both Lakeview People Spots Will Be Moving to New Locations

The Lincoln Avenue People Spot. Photo: Heritage Bikes

Say goodbye to the Heritage Bicycles People Spot.

Yesterday morning commissioners for Lakeview’s Special Service Area 27 decided that the curbside mini park should be relocated this year from the 2900 block of North Lincoln, in front of the bike and coffee shop, to a new home on the 3300 block, by Dinkel’s Bakery. The parklet had been installed at its old location during the warm months of every year since 2012, and a majority of commissioner felt it was time for a change of scenery.

“It’s been so great and successful that it’s hard for me to be OK with it leaving,” Heritage owner Michael Salvatore told me earlier this week. He was worried that the removal of the Lincoln parklet would make his block less lively. “I’m just afraid that we’re going to lose the momentum we’ve had with the People Spot.”

Dimitri Syrkin-Nicolau, the owner of two Dimo’s Pizza shops in Wrigleyville and Bucktown, has lived near Heritage for five years, and he said he showed up for the SSA meeting to show support for keeping the parklet in the same location. “Being a business owner, I know what it takes to work with the city, so I’m sympathetic," he said.

Back in 2013, Syrkin-Nicolau unsuccessfully tried to get his own People Spot installed in the street in front of his Bucktown location on the 1600 block of north Damen. However, he says the city was never able to determine a good spot for replacing the metered parking that the parklet would displace, and there were concerns that losing the car spaces would negatively affect business in the busy retail district. Of course, People Spots have been proven to attract customers to business strips.

At yesterday’s meeting Syrkin-Nicholau voiced support for keeping the Lincoln People Spot near Heritage. “In an urban environment, places to relax are a good thing, but right now a People Spot is a difficult thing to get,” he says. “I think we should be expanding the People Spot program, rather than just moving them around. Once you move it, you throw away the asset that you have created, and I think that’s a mistake.”

The Southport Avenue People Spot. Photo: John Greenfield

Syrkan-Nicholau noted that Salvatore had printed out about 20 emails he’d received in favor of leaving the Lincoln People Spot in place, and these were on a table at the meeting for attendees to read, but nobody did so. “It seems like they had all made up their minds beforehand,” Syrkan-Nicolau says.

At the meeting, commissioner Nabil Zahrah argued that, since the neighborhoods two people spots were purchased with tens of thousands of dollars of SSA funding, which is taxpayer money, the benefits of the parklets should be spread around the neighborhood. “Nabil made that point fairly eloquently, Syrkan-Nicholas says.

In addition to relocating the Lincoln People Spot, which features café seating, the commissioners voted to move Lakeview’s other parklet, an amorphous seating area on the 3500 block of North Southport, in front of The Butcher’s Tap, to the 3600 block, by a CVS and Sushi Mura. This will depend on whether CVS is open to converting one of the neighboring parking spaces, Syrkan-Nicolau says. If they don’t agree to the swap by April, that parklet will go elsewhere.

At the meeting there was a motion to come up with a more formal policy for how long Parklets will remain at a particular location in the future, Syrkan-Nicholas says. “That way [the relocations] will be done with intention, instead of just, ‘Hey, it’s been here for a while, so let’s move it."

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