SOUTH SHORE — A ten-step plan for improving the 75th and 79th Street corridors in South Shore was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission Thursday.
The South Shore Corridor Study, which dates back to January 2019, aims to “steer retail, business and housing investment where it has the best chance of success.”
Among the plan’s immediate priorities include attracting small grocers and other independent businesses, developing a “strong arts and culture identity” and investing in green space and the public realm.
75th Street has the highest retail vacancy in South Shore, with 59 percent of available storefronts empty. 79th Street has a 48 percent vacancy rate.
Officials want to prioritize development at the neighborhood’s key intersections, including transit-oriented improvements along Exchange Avenue at 75th and 79th Streets, where bus lines and Metra stations converge.
The report also recommends a “destination entertainment district” at 79th Street, South Chicago Avenue and Stony Island Avenue, a complicated intersection that serves as a gateway to the South Side from the Chicago Skyway.
The landmark Avalon Regal Theater, dormant since 2010, sits near the intersection at 1641 E. 79th Street, as do two vibrant murals from local artists Max Sansing and Kayla Mahaffey.
The study assigns a theme to each of the major north-south streets in the neighborhood: Stony Island Avenue as a center of cultural activity, Jeffery Boulevard as a hub of education and South Shore Drive as a corridor for high-density development.
The corridor study was funded by the city and the Regional Transportation Authority, which operates Metra.
Numerous community leaders contributed to the effort, including Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th), the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Carol Adams of South Shore Works.
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