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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

The Future Of Lincoln Square Should Include Brick Buildings That Fit In, Not Strip Malls, Neighbors Say In Poll

While developers aren’t required to follow these guidelines, leaders say it's important to let them know what neighbors want.

Lincoln Square
David Wilson/Flickr
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LINCOLN SQUARE — When it comes to development, Lincoln Square neighbors want to traditional Chicago architecture preserved and new construction should “blend” into the neighborhood, according to a new Lincoln Square report.

For three weeks in January, the site yourlincolnsquare.org asked neighbors about their preferences in mixed-use and residential building design in Lincoln Square. The results of the survey will now be incorporated into the new Lincoln Square Master Plan.

Some key takeaways from the recent poll: neighbors prefer buildings with brick, vintage or traditional Chicago architecture, and older buildings should be restored or retrofitted. Lincoln Square could also use more public art — including murals — and more green space, sidewalk patios and pedestrian plazas.

Rudy Flores, executive director of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, said the poll aimed to understand what neighbors want the neighborhood to look like.

“Once we draft design guidelines for the master plan, developers will already know what people are thinking about,” Flores said.

Credit: Courtesy Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce
The highest rated designs in the poll.

Lincoln Square residents thought modern glass buildings didn’t “fit character of Lincoln Square” and looked too much like an office building or hotel, according to the poll.

Neighbors prefer buildings that are two or three stories in height. Taller buildings should be on Western Avenue, residents responded in the poll, where taller buildings like the five-story Dank House, 4740 N. Western Ave., exist.

As for what people disliked, most poll respondents don’t like strip malls because they believe the malls’ parking lots are a waste of space. Billboards were considered unattractive, too, as was signage and awnings that aren’t consistent in their design.

Credit: Courtesy Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce
The lowest rated designs in the poll.

A total of 487 people participated in the visual poll. Another 1,835 people shared opinions on building design, orientation and materials, ground floor activity, landscaping, shared spaces and more through the poll’s open-ended comments section.

January’s poll was the latest in an ongoing process to collect resident feedback for the master plan.

RELATED: How Should Lincoln Square Spend Its Money? Survey Says: Traffic And Bike Lane Upgrades (So Far)

A public presentation of the completed plan, originally set for March, has been moved to May or early June. The new timeline will give the plan’s designers more time to incorporate resident feedback into the plan, Flores said.

When completed, the master plan will be the guiding document that outlines how funds collected through a Special Service Area are spent over the next five to 10 years.

Special Service Area districts, or SSAs, levy a special tax on property owners for communal services like snow removal, landscaping, sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal.  

After the plan is finalized and presented to the public, the chamber will invite developers and real estate brokers to discuss the results. While developers aren’t required to follow the plan, Flores said it’s an important tool that let’s them know what neighbors want.

“We’re really excited the community is so involved in this,” Flores said. “And we’re hoping that this plan will help guide developers when they have discussions with the alderman.”

The full results of the three polls can be found here.

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