Wrightwood Neighbors Long Range Plan
Lincoln Avenue Master Plan
Adopted by the Wrightwood Neighbors Board of Directors on January 16, 2017
The purpose of this Master Plan is to guide Lincoln Avenue development between Diversey and Fullerton over the next ten years. The recommendations are consistent with the Wrightwood Neighbors Long Range Plan, which provides guidelines for development in the area bounded by Halsted, Fullerton, Lakewood, and Diversey. In order for this vision to be implemented in a timely manner, an implementation plan is included.
Lincoln Avenue should be a vibrant, pedestrian oriented street that has retail stores primarily serving the local community on the first floor with residents above providing customers. Walking along the street should be a pleasant experience where neighbors can meet and shop.
An important aspect for the vitality of the street is its proximity to public transportation, bicycle routes and streetscape enhancements including an overall identity, attractive landscaping, and wider sidewalks.
While the primary focus is to attract local residents, in order for it to be successful there needs to be customers from outside the neighborhood, as well as, an increased number of residents living on the street.
The retail stores on the street should primarily be geared to local residents. They should not be big box retailers, but a mid-box retailer could act as an anchor on the north end.
There should be kiosks on the street indicating store locations.
There shall not be any additional 4 A.M. liquor licenses
Review the area adjacent to the Edith Spurlock Senior Apartments to determine its viability for retail or a people spot. Either future use would eliminate a dead zone for pedestrians.
The residential areas that surround Lincoln Avenue are populated with homes costing $1,000,000 and up. The demographics indicate that upscale restaurants would thrive on the street, along with an upscale wine and cheese store, florist and grocery.
In an ideal world, we would like to see more art galleries, book stores, butcher shop, fish markets, antique stores, clothing boutiques, shoe stores, ice cream store, and other businesses that service the community. We would like to see less of those stores that we already are saturated with, including beauty salons, dry cleaners, insurance agencies, general office space and bars.
Businesses that are service oriented such as real estate offices, law offices, insurance officers should be discouraged, as they would break up the retail street experience.
Look to attract businesses that would appeal to current and future demographics.
The southern end of Lincoln Avenue at Fullerton currently has the Biograph, Lincoln Hall, and the Apollo Theater as anchors. An additional anchor on the south end could be a boutique hotel when the Children’s Memorial Hospital Research Building on Halsted becomes available. This hotel would also benefit Halsted Street businesses.
There needs to be a possible mid-box anchor for the north end of Lincoln Avenue (Diversey). This could possibly be a grocery store (e.g. Trader Joe’s) or a store like a City Target.
Discouraged Retail Uses
Businesses that offend community standards should be discouraged. Drive-through businesses and free standing fast-food restaurants should be prohibited on this pedestrian street. Locally owned businesses are strongly preferred over national chains, the exception might be mid-box retailers that would act as anchors.
There should not be any residential on the first floor of buildings, as it would interfere with the retail continuity of the street.
Residential units are encouraged to provide customers for the local businesses. With help from the City of Chicago, every effort should be made to provide both affordable (workforce) and senior citizen housing.
All new construction should have 14-foot wide public sidewalks with trees.
An inventory of existing tree locations should be conducted and new trees planted if they have been removed. All tree plantings should be located so as not to block store signage,
Planter boxes and other landscaping should be included in all improvements.
Make landscaping a priority in improving the aesthetics of the street
Improve street lighting.
There should be people spots at appropriate places to enhance the pedestrian experience.
There should be a maximum size for retail store signage, with external lighting preferred.
Include Identity program including signage or kiosks at both ends and at street intersections, customized tree grates, identity embossed in sidewalks.
Investigate adding appropriately sized sculptural pieces along the street that could be sponsored by local businesses.
Sidewalk cafes are encourage to enliven the street, as long there is adequate sidewalk width.
Storefronts should be built at or near the front of the property line, with parking inside, on top or in the rear. Retail space should be pulled out to the lot line. Developments that have parking lots in front should be prohibited.
Businesses on the ground floor should have open views of the street. Large blinds or shades, glass block, and other materials that block the view into the store are discouraged.
The city should purchase Julia Porter Park from Children’s’ Memorial Hospital to protect it from development and create a people spot with more family friendly events that attract customers and promote local businesses.
The fence adjacent to the Edith Spurlock Senior Citizen homes should be sent back from the sidewalk and be active, such as the installation of a people spot. This will revitalize a dead zone along Lincoln Avenue.
It is important to have a unified design for architecture and appearance. This does not mean every building must be the same, but does require thought and planning in construction, renovation and decoration. Storefronts with a tasteful, unified theme and appearance are attractive to residents and guests, and thereby encourage pedestrian traffic.
There should be the development and adoption of appropriate general guidelines for signage, paint colors, awnings and window lettering. Funds maybe provided by the Lincoln Avenue SSA or a City of Chicago funding source for a Lincoln Avenue Corridor Plan.
All currently landmarked and orange rated buildings should be preserved. A survey should be done to determine if existing non-rated buildings should be added to the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.
New Construction Guidelines
All new construction should be of high architectural quality that is sensitive to the existing buildings. Strictly plain, functional, or cookie cutter buildings should be discouraged.
The owners of buildings that are considered eyesores should be encouraged to improve their appearance. This has been done with the building south of the Biograph (2431 North Lincoln) and Lincoln Centre and its parking lot (2518 North Lincoln) which as been demolished and being replaced with an architectural attractive building.
The vacant gas station at 2670 North Lincoln Avenue should be replaced with an architecturally attractive building with pedestrian oriented retail on Lincoln.
Zoning / Density / Height
The current higher density zoning was established to encourage first floor retail. The combination of the higher density, a pedestrian designated street, and the Transit Oriented Development Ordinance will require a review of the zoning of the entire stretch of Lincoln Avenue. The height and density of new construction should be reviewed on a project-by-project basis. Many factors are to be considered and will be different for different projects. For example, if there is a desire for a hotel, additional height and density may be appropriate.
Realistic Property Tax Rates
Property assessments should be lowered for small, locally owned businesses, which will attract and retain viable neighborhood-oriented product retail tenants. Inflated property taxes harm the ability of small businesses to absorb the cost of doing business in our community.
The Lincoln Avenue Bus should be reinstated, being a continuance route form Howard/McCormick Station to the downtown Clinton Blue Line Station. It should run seven days a week from 7 A.M. to Midnight.
Bicycle lanes should be along the entire stretch of Lincoln Avenue with bike corrals added as warranted.
Additional sites for Divvy stations should be reviewed.
Personal maps at the elevated stations should be provided for visitors
The establishment of a Lincoln Avenue weekend trolley service should be investigated that would tie the retail stores with the CTA Elevated Station and the redeveloped Children’s Memorial Garage. This could also provide access to and from the Lakefront.
A shuttle from the North Branch Industrial Corridor to the nearby Fullerton elevated Station should also be investigated.
Continuity (North and South)
Any revitalization of Lincoln Avenue should connect with the street both north of Diversey and South of Fullerton. This could include the reinstallation of the Lincoln Avenue Bus, bike lanes, joint marketing. The redevelopment of Children’s Memorial Hospital site should act as an anchor for Lincoln Avenue from Webster to Diversey. There should also be a connection with the Fullerton Elevated CTA station to make the area more accessible for non-residents.
Identity / Promotion
Develop an identity for Lincoln Avenue with a name and logo (e.g. “The Heart of Lincoln Park”). This could tie-in with the identity of the redeveloped Children’s Memorial Hospital Site. Street furniture, figural bike racks, light pole banners, and information kiosks could reinforce the identity. Survey local businesses and neighbors for ideas. (Lincoln Square and Andersonville have a great identity). Julia Porter Park should be programmed with weekend entertainment to attract visitors to the street. Ideas include art fairs, fruit stands and other licensed street vendors. A prominent water feature would greatly enhance this park. This could be coordinated with activities in the Children’s Memorial Hospital Development’s plaza on Lincoln Avenue. Joint marketing between theaters and restaurants should be encouraged.
Attractive, tasteful signage is generally approved for businesses. The City of Chicago is encouraged to work with WNA to develop a coordinated signage plan that adopts a uniform look and feel to area signage. This could also be incorporated into the Lincoln Avenue Corridor Plan.
There should be kiosks that have a map of the street with local businesses indicated, locations of nearby points of interest, and transportation options. These maps could also be put on a website, made available at the CTA Elevated Stations, and the redeveloped Children’s Memorial Hospital site. Painted curbs or sidewalk images (e.g. area logo) from Webster to Diversey including the CTA elevated stations may be a way to define a pedestrian path (e.g. the Boston Freedom Trail).
Promote the area to tourists visiting the city by working with existing agencies highlighting attractions (theaters, restaurants, stores) and the ease of access by public transportation. Lincoln Avenue would be a part of the proposed Lincoln Avenue Cultural Plan
Work with the DePaul University Retail Development Center and the Department of Community Affairs to determine student’s retail needs.
Lincoln Avenue is a pedestrian oriented street and the Transit Oriented Development Ordinance provides a reduction in parking requirement within 1200 feet of a transit station. Along with fewer parking spaces, developers should provide significant number of car share spaces and secure bicycle parking to encourage residents who do not own cars. The alleys behind Lincoln Avenue are narrow and should be considered when reviewing proposals for new developments.
Attracting stores that appeal to local residents will also reduce the need for parking. The concept of shared parking should also be explored. An example would be a daytime business that would allow evening parking for other night time businesses. There should be a shared parking program in the Children’s Memorial Hospital Development’s Garage that would have at least 2 hour validated free parking for other businesses, and use by valets. Validated retail parking should be well publicized so that people who drive, will go directly to the parking and not first look for street parking.
Valet parking companies must have adequate off street parking spaces.
New loading zones should be discouraged since they take up valuable parking spaces, are empty most of the time and are often used for the parking of the owners or employees personal automobiles. 15 minutes with lights flashing loading zones may be appropriate for certain businesses. All current loading zones should be reviewed to see if they still serve the business that they were installed for.
Pay and Display Parking
Pay and display parking hours should be reviewed to match the local business needs.
The installation of cameras should be investigated at key locations along Lincoln Avenue, as well as asking for police foot patrols during the summer on weekend nights.
New buildings and businesses should incorporate good security planning, including cameras (especially for taverns), lighting, and secured parking and back yards.
The intersection of Lincoln / Fullerton and Halsted is dangerous and the Chicago Department of Transportation should be asked to look at improving pedestrian safety at this intersection and at crosswalks.
The implementation of the Master Plan should be a coordinated effort of the 43rd Ward Alderman’s Office, local neighborhood associations, the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Avenue Special Service District and the City of Chicago.
- Get approval from the Wrightwood Neighbors Board of Directors.
- Present to the 43rd Ward Alderman and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce for concurrence.
- Establish a Lincoln Avenue Task Force to guide the refinement of the master plan and its implementation. There should contain a representative from each of the stakeholders – the Alderman, Chamber of Commerce, Special Service Area, property owners, residents, businesses, and neighborhood associations. As an alternative, the Special Service Area could sponsor a Lincoln Avenue Corridor Plan.
- Compile demographic information that can be used to encourage new desired, businesses to locate on the street. (Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce)
- A committee should be formed to identify and solicit businesses that would successfully serve the local neighborhood.
- Get a buy-in for the Master Plan from all stakeholders.
- Since street improvements take a long time, begin discussions for a new streetscape plan for Lincoln Avenue with the City of Chicago, with an emphasis on wider sidewalks, bike lanes, bike corrals, people spots. Create a map of current physical street conditions including road and sidewalk widths.
- Update the Chicago Historic Resources Survey for buildings that should be rated Red, Orange, or Yellow. The 43rd Ward Alderman and Wrightwood Neighbors should use this update when reviewing demolition requests.
- Develop architectural guidelines for new construction to ensure that new buildings are architecturally attractive or are compatible with the existing buildings.
- Review successful other community’s (Lincoln Square, Andersonville, Lakeview Chamber of Commerce) retail street plans and implementations.
- Create a preliminary design to Julia Porter Park and the Edith Spurlock open space that will act as people spots.
- Talk with the operators of Lincoln Hall, Victory Gardens, and the Apollo Theater to see the demographics of their audiences and what other businesses would be a good fit.
- Work with the City of Chicago to streamline the permit process for new stores and restaurants looking to open.
- Create a map of existing businesses and needed infrastructure improvements.
- Develop a plan to enliven the street experience including: musical entertainment, Farmer’s Market, Art Walk, Restaurant night stroll, etc.