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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

An Uptown Retail Strip Is Primed For Development. New Study Asks Neighbors What They Want There

Uptown's chamber of commerce is commissioning a study into what could come to a prominent Wilson Avenue corner.

The single-story retail strip at Wilson Avenue and Broadway could be redeveloped.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — As a development wave hits Uptown’s Wilson Avenue, city planners and neighborhood leaders are taking steps to help determine the future of a prominent property that’s primed for redevelopment.

Uptown United, the neighborhood’s chamber of commerce, has commissioned a study on the feasibility of redeveloping the properties on the southeast corner of Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

The properties include a parking lot and multiple single-story retail buildings at the corner including a currency exchange and Dunkin’ Donuts. The study is also taking a look at the buildings just south, including a two-story retail facility and a bank branch.

Those properties are surrounded by new development, including a nine-story apartment building located across the street. There are currently four developments underway on Wilson Avenue that will bring 650 apartments to the neighborhood.

There are no concrete proposals on the table for the buildings that have yet to be redeveloped, nor are they actively for sale, community leaders said. But “the 46th Ward continues to see interest” from developers, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said at a community meeting Wednesday night.

The properties would be a logical target for redevelopment as they sit next to a revamped Wilson Red Line station and are already zoned for apartments, community leaders said at the meeting.

The study commissioned by the local chamber looks at what kind of development is possible at the corner in an effort to “make informed decisions about our community in the future,” Cappleman said.

Specifically, the study is looking at how the city’s equitable transit-oriented development law could be used to make any development at the site inclusive of neighbor’s desires, city planners said.

Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
A new development towers over the currency exchange at Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

That law seeks to ensure development near transit stops is affordable to working-class people and includes green and pedestrian-friendly features. Under the law, increases in density are allowed if affordable apartments are included in the plan.

Uptown United commissioned The Lakota Group and Elevated Chicago to look at how the transit development ordinance could be used at the corner of Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

At a community meeting on the topic, Lakota Group presented three “scenarios” for the site.

One would include a redevelopment under the properties’ existing zoning, which would allow for a 65-foot-tall building with apartments and retail. The other proposals would use the transit-oriented development rule to boost density in an effort to add more apartments and amenities to the site.

Credit: Courtesy Uptown United/The Lakota Group
A redevelopment scenario using existing zoning.
Credit: Courtesy Uptown United/The Lakota Group
The “mid scenario” includes a nine-story building and six-story building with a public plaza along Broadway.
Credit: Courtesy Uptown United/The Lakota Group
The “max scenario” would include one, 12-story building that would have a community plaza at the southern end of the property, including a community space inside the complex.

Each of the scenarios would center retail space along the corner of Broadway and Wilson Avenue with apartments on upper floors. They all would add green space, either through a plaza at the southern end of the parcel or a plaza along Broadway.

The proposals are just exercises to show what could come to the area under development laws and are not actively being considered.

The plan is for Lakota Group and Uptown United to get feedback on the hypothetical projects to learn more about what residents want to see at the corner.

Some neighbors at the meeting asked if any development could require the adding of bus-only and bike lanes, while others asked about ensuring the retail space is attainable for small businesses and that family-sized units be mandated in any project.

“This is the beginning of the conversation to understand what is possible,” said Sarah Wilson, executive director of Uptown United.

To provide feedback on the future of Broadway and Wilson, email justin@exploreuptown.org.

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