JEFFERSON PARK — The biggest transportation hub on the Northwest Side is getting an overhaul, and residents have until the end of the week to weigh in on the future of “downtown Jeff Park.”
The Jefferson Park Transit Center accommodates the CTA Blue Line, Metra Union Pacific Northwest (UP-NW) Line, 9 CTA bus lines, 3 Pace bus lines and Pace’s Pulse Milwaukee Line, a new arterial rapid transit (ART) service set to launch in late 2018.
An effort to craft a master plan for the area around the Jefferson Park business district has been underway since 2015, when Ald. John Arena (45th) secured a Regional Transportation Authority grant.
In September, the CTA did a $25 million renovation of the the nearly 50-year-old train and bus station at Jefferson Park near the Kennedy Expy. The Jefferson Park Blue Line stop is the fourth busiest station along the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line and had more than 2.1 million commuters pass through it in 2017.
The current draft plan calls for a “walkable, transit-friendly ‘downtown Jeff Park’ with public gathering spaces to foster community events and a range of entertainment, retail and restaurants to serve local residents and visitors.”
To this end, the plan calls for pursuing mixed-use development, supporting the development of entertainment, restaurants and cultural destinations in Jefferson Park and supporting a range of housing options to “accommodate people of all ages and at various stages of their lives.”
The draft plan also proposes an outdoor plaza with seating that could be used by nearby restaurants and businesses near near the Jefferson Park Transit Center and Copernicus Center.
A privately-owned “winter garden” would also be added to the area, and “provide a distinctive reason to locate in Jefferson Park,” the plan says.
Aside from building out new things, the plan also suggests giving the Post Office Carrier Annex at Milwaukee Avenue at Ainslie Street the boot. The building “has an opaque facade and does not include any commercial activity,” the plan says. “Its functions could be relocated to another facility, allowing redevelopment of the block.”
“New development could include space for the expansion of the Paschke Art Center, the Gift Theater, and the Windy City Music Theater,” the plan says. “The redevelopment should also include a pathway for pedestrians directly from the Esdohr House — a historic building that was relocated to the west side of Long Avenue in Jefferson Park — to Ainslie Street and over to the transit center to the northwest along Lipps Avenue.”
The current draft of the plan available online was released in October and includes input from the Chicago Housing Initiative, Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association, Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson Park Forward, Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association and Northwest Side Unite.
The plan is still in its draft stage. Residents can comment on it through Dec. 14 — before it goes before city officials.
The city’s Department of Planning and Development is expected to vote on the final draft of the plan on Dec. 20, according to Arena’s office.
Feedback on the current draft plan can be sent via email to DPD@cityofchicago.org.
To view the entire 75 draft of the master plan click here.
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