LOGAN SQUARE — Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighbors can expect more outdoor dining and events this summer thanks to a new city program.
The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center are among 15 community organizations being awarded grants through Chicago Alfresco, a program designed to maximize outdoor spaces this summer and revive neighborhood tourism.
Under the program, designed to build upon the city’s outdoor dining pilot and help Chicagoans safely enjoy events outdoors, the first round of winners will receive grants of up to $250,000.
In Humboldt Park, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center is teaming up with local architecture firms, including STL Architects and Studio ARQ, to install wooden structures along the stretch of Division Street known as Paseo Boricua, said Nadya Henriquez, with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. The structures, called Boricua Village, will house outdoor dining, events and performances.
Each structure will have its own theme, Henriquez said. For example, the one at Campbell Avenue and Division Street will be focused on wellness because of its proximity to West Town Bikes and a senior housing building, she said.
Also under the city program, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center is installing kiosks and working with local artists to bring murals to the corridor.
Boricua Village is one of several initiatives the Humboldt Park organization is working on to boost foot traffic and economic development along the corridor. The Puerto Rican Cultural Center is also putting on a weekly event series called El Jolgorio de Salsa y Más and hosting regular markets.
“It’s just part of our strategic plan to bring more foot traffic so we can also open more stores, because one goes with the other. They go hand in hand,” Henriquez said.
Henriquez wasn’t able to provide a launch date for Boricua Village, but she said she expects the structures to be built in July.
At the Logan Square-Avondale border, the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce is converting Woodard Plaza, a long-neglected triangular plot of land at Diversey, Kimball and Milwaukee avenues, into a community hub with outdoor dining, performances, craft markets and other gatherings.
The city partnership with allow the chamber to install LED lighting and set up tables at the plaza — improvements the organization couldn’t afford to make on its own, said Nilda Esparza, the chamber’s executive director.
“Something like this is a huge, huge help for us to provide the services we want to provide without having to look for big sponsors,” Esparza said.
Esparza said the launch date has not yet been finalized, but neighbors should expect a full calendar of events at Woodard Plaza this summer thanks to the city program. More details will be released in coming weeks, she said.
Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau, and sponsor Diageo, an alcoholic beverage company, are distributing $2.3 million in grants to the 15 community organizations.
“As Chicago continues to rebound from the pandemic, we are committed to working with our community partners and putting our streets in the service of what people and small businesses need in their neighborhoods to keep everybody safe and moving, while keeping us all together,” Gia Biagi, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, said in a statement.
The city is continuing to accept proposals for Chicago Alfresco grants. More information on the program is available here.
The city’s Expanded Outdoor Dining program — which was introduced last year and permits bars and restaurants to operate in private parking lots, on the sidewalk or in closed streets — will also continue this year. Businesses can apply for permits here.
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