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Lincoln Park, Old Town

As Old Town Prepares For Major Changes At Prime Locations, Developers Want To Hear From Neighbors

Development firm Fern Hill launched a website Thursday that neighbors can use to share feedback on the firm's plans to redevelop properties in Old Town.

BP, 1647 N. LaSalle Drive.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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OLD TOWN — Developers who are planning to overhaul several properties in Old Town, including the site of the old Treasure Island Grocery Store, have launched an interactive website where people can submit feedback on the project.

Fern Hill Company launched the community engagement site Thursday, allowing residents to learn more about the team and the properties they’ll transform.

The properties:

  • The BP Gas Station at 1647 N. LaSalle Drive.
  • The Shell Gas Station at 130 W. North Ave.
  • The parking lot at North Avenue and LaSalle Drive.
  • The Walgreens at 1601 N. Wells St.
  • The vacant Treasure Island on Wells Street.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Shell Gas Station, 130 W. North Ave.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
The parking lot at North Avenue and LaSalle Drive

The website is hosted through coUrbanize, an online platform that aims to make civic participation more convenient. It will allow neighbors to offer feedback through any internet-enabled device, text message and voicemail.

Through the platform, neighbors can share their thoughts on the projects, interact with the properties on a map and learn more about the development and design teams, according to a news release. The site is accessible in multiple languages.

“We are excited to launch what we believe is a new approach to community engagement and to do so in Old Town, one of Chicago’s most historic and architecturally significant neighborhoods,” said Nick Anderson, founder and president of Fern Hill.

The development team will also gather feedback through a combination of in-person and virtual meetings over the next several months, Anderson said.

“Fern Hill is committed to showcasing this project as the new standard for proactive, inclusive community engagement in Chicago,” Anderson said.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Walgreens, 1601 N. Wells St.

Fern Hill held its first meeting last month, during which the team introduced architect David Adjaye, known for projects like the National Museum of African American History, as the lead designer.

Adjaye told neighbors he and his team “know Chicago very well and are big fans of the city.”

“Chicago has this extraordinary heritage of architecture, and Old Town was sort of the roots of that,” Adjaye said during the virtual community meeting. “The neighborhood has beautiful two- to three-story, Victorian-style architecture, which is why that part of the city is so distinct.”

The meeting was a chance for the developers and architects to introduce themselves to the neighborhood, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said. No design plans have been created.

“This is a blank canvas right now as we start,” Hopkins said. “You all are invited to pick up a paintbrush. Let’s decide together what we want to happen here in conjunction with Moody Church and Fern Hill.”

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
The vacant Treasure Island retail space on Wells Street.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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