Open space and Milwaukee Avenue (Part II)

Not surprisingly, real estate experts at the last of the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Development Initiative workshops did not share the community vision of open space along Milwaukee Avenue.

What the real estate experts may not know

As volunteers and people who do not live in the neighborhood, the real estate experts may not have known about the larger Logan Square community’s (though not necessarily Milwaukee Avenue’s, see Open space and Milwaukee Avenue [Part I]) lack of open space, and so may have lacked the context of the community’s desire for open space.

Like the community volunteers, they likely didn’t know of the plans and existing opportunities for open space on public properties along Milwaukee Avenue, but they did not feel that open space on private properties along Milwaukee Avenue was appropriate.

Not living in the area, there is another context that the real estate experts may not have known that may justify some open space:  One of Milw Ave scenario 1A marked upthe sites chosen for constructing a hypothetical development, was the Pay Half building at the northwest corner of Spaulding and Milwaukee Avenues, which, as those of us familiar with the area know, has an “el” entrance located Scenario 2 marked up Aparticularly close to the building.  That area can be improved with some breathing room in the form of open space that Scenarios 1 and 2 provide (images right).

I have a preference for Scenario 1 (top image) for two reasons:  It maximizes the building footprint while still providing some breathing room for the “el” entrance.  And I think the suggested hardscape/plaza space (vs. Scenario 2’s suggested green space) is a better fit for a vibrant retail environment.  It’s more of a design element or building amenity where a sculpture or café tables and chairs might be placed.  Without knowing of the “el” entrance location, one of the real estate experts touted it as a sort of decompression from the plane of building façades.

Bear in mind though, that these are hypothetical scenarios meant to be reflective of desired development at any location along Milwaukee Avenue from California Avenue north to Lawndale Avenue, so a plaza or pocket park may or may not be appropriate depending on the location.  If it is appropriate in a location such as this on a corner with the adjacent entrance to the “el,” the pocket park could be a hardscape/plaza space and the element of interest could be mostly green space.

For the developers of course, open space eats up profits that could be achieved by leasing or selling building space.  For the rest of us though, the thing is, open space, like parking lots, blank walls and uses that don’t generate foot traffic, can kill foot traffic, unless it’s well-designed and frequently programmed.  Beware of too much open space along Milwaukee Avenue.

Fire Spinners
Scene in Logan Square:

The last Summer Sessions on the Square of the season will be on fire!, featuring Tarima Son, JT and The Clouds, Chicago Stone Lightning Band, El Ritmo School of Latin Percussion and a surprise guest appearance, Saturday,
September 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Logan Square monument.

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