McKinley Park News – UIC, council’s scheme proposes new neighborhood developments

Residents of Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood are thinking big with their visions of what the neighborhood might look like in the future.


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This spring, the McKinley Park Development Council engaged with the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to survey residents about their development preferences and priorities.


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“The plan is intended to guide future development in a way that aligns with the wishes of current residents and users of the neighborhood,” said UIC Professor Sanjeev Vidyarthi, director of the McKinley Park Student Urban Design Masters Program. .

A map design shows the prospective development of “The Gateway” in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago.A meeting on June 10, 2022 at the Aquinas Literacy Center unveiled three visions for the neighborhood projects: a gateway at West 35th and South Paulina streets, a cultural center in the historic clock tower of the Central Manufacturing District and new housing and public services adapted to public transport. space surrounding the 35th/Archer Orange Line El.

The footbridge at 35th and Paulina

Residents wanted an area to welcome visitors to the neighborhood, Vidyarthi said, and the intersection of 35th and Paulina stood out as a prime location.


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Program recommendations for this gateway include reactivating vacant commercial space and improving the streetscape: widening sidewalks, adding planters and lighting, and adding parking on South Paulina Street for visitors . Outdoor dining and street activities would further add to the vibrancy of the front door.

“35th Street has the potential to be a walkable, beautiful, shared neighborhood space,” Vidyarthi said. “[It’s] an iconic, yet underutilized, neighborhood corridor.”

A conceptual rendering displays a prospective streetscape for The Gateway development in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood.The walkway would be split between the 11th and 12th wards in the new redistricted Chicago neighborhood map, which is expected to go into effect in 2023. Kate Eakin, vice chair of the development board, said local stakeholders, including aldermen and related aldermen, would be engaged. in the development of the project.

“We will prioritize the things the community has deemed most important and explore ways to implement them,” Eakin said.

The Hub of the 35th/Archer Orange Line

New affordable housing and open space would surround the 35th/Archer Orange Line El stop in a program proposal called “The Hub”.


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The currently vacant land southwest of South Leavitt and West 35th Streets would accommodate new affordable housing, ideally two or three stories depending on residents’ stated preferences, Vidyarthi said.

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A concept map for “The Hub” shows the potential land use around the 35th/Archer Orange Line El station.Other developments at the Hub would include transforming the parking lot next to the El into a functional community green space and adding new lanes to beautify the entrance and better support pedestrian traffic.

Clock Tower Cultural District

An active space full of commerce, performance and community is the program’s vision for a “cultural district” centered around the Central Manufacturing District’s iconic clock tower on South Damen Avenue and West Pershing Road.

The program offers a makers market for local merchants and urban farmers, greenhouses for neighborhood horticulture, performance space for arts and cultural events, and the restoration of the clock tower to be usable by local organizations.

UIC Student Program

A maker’s market would be one of the features of the proposed cultural district at the Central Manufacturing District clock tower.The three areas of the project reflected key concerns identified during spring outreach, when the 12 UIC program students engaged with approximately 200 McKinley Park residents at local pop-up events.

“It was our first hands-on experience in the community planning process,” said UIC graduate student Alexandra Pollock. “It was a wonderful experience to have conversations with community members at different stages of the design process.”

“Pedestrian safety, small business development, fear of displacement and lack of community spaces beyond the park of the same name” emerged as common concerns, Vidyarthi said.

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McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

He noted that the City Design program chose McKinley Park because of the neighborhood’s strong organizational history, including the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan, released in 2021 by the Development Board as a project of the Chicago Metropolitan. Agency for Planning (CMAP).

The concept map of the future Cultural District shows the features surrounding the clock tower of the Central Manufacturing District.The city design proposal is intended to serve as a reference document for future development, Vidyarthi said, and it also recommends policy measures that would benefit the proposed developments.

The scope of the City Design project and its proposals does not take into account financing, land use, environmental remediation, property acquisition or other development issues.

Vidyarthi said he hoped the council and other local organizations could use the plan to guide and oversee local development.

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