Open space and Milwaukee Avenue (Part I)

One of the interesting things that came out of the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Development Initiative, is the desire for open space.  Every single development scenario, not just the four I’ve featured here (see Scenario 1, Scenario 2, Scenario 3, Scenario 4), included open space of some sort.

Commenting on the imagined development scenarios in the last workshop of the series, the real estate experts did not necessarily agree, either stating that open space was not appropriate on Milwaukee Avenue or that there was already adequate open space in the area.

So who’s “right,” the community or the real estate experts? How about both?

What the community may not know

What many of the community volunteers didn’t know was what open space was already planned for Milwaukee Avenue, and perhaps they didn’t consider what already exists or the potential of what already exists.

The 2004 Logan Square Open Space Plan calls for a plaza (see image below) to be developed directly south of Logan Square proper, west of Milwaukee Avenue in the space now used for parking.  The hope is that the Logan Square Farmers Market (see A Square Link or Two in right column) can then utilize the plaza, moving from its current location on the Logan Boulevard service drive east of Milwaukee Avenue to a more suitable home.

Conceptual Logan Square market plazaConceptual Logan Square Market Plaza

The Open Space Plan also calls for the redesign of Logan Square to capture Milwaukee Avenue between east and westbound Logan Boulevard as open space, to render the currently useless space east of Milwaukee Avenue useful, and to make the rest of the square more useful (see image below, bottom of image is oriented north).

Conceptual redesign of Logan Square

Conceptual Redesign of Logan Square

Paseo Prairie GardenThere is also the Paseo Prairie Garden at the Logan Square “el” entrance west of Milwaukee Avenue, just north of Logan Square proper (photo left).

And there is the open space at the “el” station/bus terminal east of Milwaukee Avenue.  With the “el” line directly below it,
Logan Square el station east entrance aerialit does not seem likely that the station area there will be developed with buildings, but the open space (photo left) could certainly be redesigned to be more useful and inviting.

There is another potential opportunity for open space at the Milwaukee-Diversey-
Milwaukee-Kimball-Woodard triangle aerialKimball corner. North of the corner there already exists a triangle of open space across from Fireman’s Park, albeit, again, concrete and trees.  There is talk of vacating the tiny section of Woodard Street north of this triangle to expand the triangle and create a more appealing space.

Generous amount of open space

The focus of the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Development Initiative was from Sacramento Avenue on the south to Wisner Avenue on the north.  Along that .8 mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue then, there are five planned or existing opportunities for open space on public properties, one for every 845 linear feet, or one for every 1-1/3 blocks.  In my book, that’s a generous allocation of open space.  Granted, the workshops are meant to envision potential Milwaukee Avenue development from California Avenue north to Lawndale Avenue, but that is a stretch beyond the focus of this blog, so I’ll maintain the scope to the shorter stretch more akin to the narrow focus of this blog.


Next:  What the real estate experts may not know

Logan Square Kitchen 010
Fall diversions in Logan Square:

Logan Square Kitchen, a sustainable kitchen and event space, celebrates its grand opening with an Open House, Saturday and Sunday,
September 26-27, 10:00 a.m. –
3:00 p.m., at 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.; RSVP requested.

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6 Responses to Open space and Milwaukee Avenue (Part I)

  1. I love the Logan Square redesign concept. Reminds me of the great things NYC is doing to tame intersections and create new open space at the same time. Nice post — thanks for sharing.

  2. Carter says:

    I still think what Milwaukee needs is a block that is like the block of Lincoln just south of Lawrence, focused on pedestrians & people who linger, not just zip in and out of one store.

    My general feeling is that the street/sidewalks are too narrow to be what many want it to be – you can barely walk side by side with someone in many parts where there are bus stops and so on. Take one block, get rid of the parking altogether, and encourage more restaurants with outdoor seating, have a fountain or some other open space strategically planted, etc.

    Carter: I was just talking with someone today about the possibility of putting in angled parking to widen the sidewalks, but then you’d have to eliminate parallel parking on the other side of the street. Street parking actually serves as a useful practical and psychological barrier between (moving) cars and pedestrians though, so you’d lose that. Maybe it could be overcome by streetscaping. I’m not sure IDOT could be brought on board though. But you’re right, Milwaukee Ave. sidewalks are particulary narrow and limit the possibilities. ~ Lynn

  3. jason says:

    thanks for posting the link to the open space plan, i’ve been trying to find it online for months. something needs to be done about the (un)ease of navigation on the city’s website.

    i came across this document a while ago, but given that mell is involved that doesn’t bode very well (increase parking??).

    A New Vision for the East Avondale Community (2004)

    jason: Thanks for the link. I’ll have to take some time to look it over. In general though, the business community always says/thinks it wants more parking. ~ Lynn

  4. Carter says:

    Interesting link Jason, I wonder how (or if) the housing downturn has altered views.

    Lynn, I heard through the grapevine that Chicago is thinking of experimenting with some raised bike lanes down the road – perhaps that could kill two birds with one stone by also serving as the streetscaping barrier you describe,

  5. Carter says:

    btw, I’ve spoken with Rey about that tiny stretch of Woodard Street at the NW corner of the Kimball/Milwaukee intersection, that’s just begging to be turned into a more functional public space.

    Right now it provides all of 4 or so parking spaces, but the negative aspect is that it is currently a two-way street that in fact is not wide enough for two cars to pass each other on, and all it seems to do is serve as a way for impatient drivers to try and avoid the intersection, usually with results not satisfactory for anyone.

    I’d like to see the similarly wasted concrete where Kimball meets Wellington reclaimed, that’s a horrible setup.

  6. […] as the plan calls them, and their purpose could be served by just a single lane of traffic. (A similar opportunity exists at Milwaukee & […]

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