A design conception shows how "The Hub" proposed development might appear at West 35th and South Leavitt streets.

UIC, Council Project Proposes New Neighborhood Developments

Published July 2, 2022

Residents of Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood are dreaming big with their visions of what the neighborhood could look like in the future.

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

This spring, the McKinley Park Development Council engaged with the University of Illinois - Chicago’s (UIC’s) College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs to ask residents about their development preferences and priorities and create a McKinley Park Plan document.

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

"The plan is intended to guide future development in a way that aligns with the wishes of current neighborhood residents and users," said UIC Professor Sanjeev Vidyarthi, director of the Master of City Design program studying McKinley Park.

A map conception shows prospective development for The Gateway in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.A map conception shows prospective development of "The Gateway" in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.A meeting on June 10, 2022, at Aquinas Literacy Center unveiled three visions for neighborhood projects: a gateway at West 35th and South Paulina streets, a cultural center at the Central Manufacturing District’s historic clock tower, and new, transit-friendly housing and public space surrounding the 35th/Archer Orange Line El.

The Gateway at 35th and Paulina

Residents wanted an area to welcome visitors to the neighborhood, Vidyarthi said, and the intersection of 35th and Paulina stood out as a prime spot.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

The program’s recommendations for this gateway include reactivating vacant retail spaces and improving the streetscape: widening sidewalks, adding planters and lighting, and adding parking on South Paulina Street for visitors. Outdoor dining and street activities would further add to the gateway’s vibrancy.

"35th Street has the potential to be a walkable, beautiful, shared neighborhood space," Vidyarthi said. "[It’s] an iconic, but underutilized, neighborhood corridor."

A conceptual rendering displays a prospective streetscape for The Gateway development in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.A conceptual rendering displays a prospective streetscape for The Gateway development in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.The Gateway would be split between the 11th and 12th wards in the new, redistricted Chicago ward map, set to go into effect in 2023. Kate Eakin, the development council’s vice president, said local stakeholders, including related aldermen and alderwomen, would be engaged in project development.

"We will prioritize the things the community has said are most important and explore ways to implement them," Eakin said.

The Hub at the 35th/Archer Orange Line

New affordable housing and open spaces would surround the 35th/Archer Orange Line El stop in a program proposal titled "The Hub."

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel

The currently vacant lot southwest of South Leavitt and West 35th streets would host new affordable housing, ideally two or three stories tall according to residents’ stated preferences, Vidyarthi said.

 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

A conceptual map for "The Hub" shows prospective land use around the 35th/Archer Orange Line El station.A conceptual map for "The Hub" shows prospective land use around the 35th/Archer Orange Line El station.Other development at The Hub would include transformation of the parking lot next to the El into a functional community green space, and adding new pathways to beautify the entrance and better support foot traffic.

Clock Tower Cultural District

An active space full of commerce, performance and community is the program’s vision for a "cultural district" centered around the Central Manufacturing District’s iconic clock tower at South Damen Avenue and West Pershing Road.

The program suggests a makers market for local merchants and urban farmers, greenhouses for neighborhood horticulture, a performance space for artistic and cultural events, and restoring the clock tower so it is usable by local organizations.

UIC Student Program

A makers market would be one feature of the proposed cultural district at the Central Manufacturing District's clock tower.A makers market would be one feature of the proposed cultural district at the Central Manufacturing District's clock tower.All three project areas reflected key concerns identified during spring outreach, when the 12 students in the UIC program engaged with around 200 McKinley Park residents through local pop-up events.

"This was our first hands-on experience in the community-engaged planning process," said UIC graduate student Alexandra Pollock. "It was a wonderful experience to have conversations with community members at different phases in the design process."

"Pedestrian safety, small business development, fear of displacement and lack of community spaces beyond the namesake park" emerged as common concerns, Vidyarthi said.

 
Show your pride and support local news with McKinley Park shirts and apparel.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

He noted that the City Design program decided on McKinley Park because of the neighborhood’s strong history of organizing, including the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan, issued in 2021 by the development council as a project of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

The conceptual map of the prospective cultural district shows features surrounding the Central Manufacturing District's clock tower.The conceptual map of the prospective cultural district shows features surrounding the Central Manufacturing District's clock tower.The City Design proposal is intended to serve as a reference document for future development, Vidyarthi said, and it also recommends policy measures that would benefit the proposed developments.

The scope of the City Design project and its proposals does not consider funding, land use, environmental remediation, property acquisition or other development concerns.

Vidyarthi said it’s his hope the council and other local organizations can use the plan to guide and oversee local development.

A video shows the process of creating the Master of City Design plan for McKinley Park.


Log In to comment on this item.
 
Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community