Six Corners projects discussed


by BRIAN NADIG

Several large redevelopment opportunities and a proposed pedestrian plaza were discussed at the Six Corners Association’s “Community Leaders Roundtable” luncheon on Feb. 14.

The luncheon also featured the unveiling of the winning submission for a sculpture to be installed in the 4000 block of North Cicero Avenue, and the National Veterans Art Museum and the Filament Theater Ensemble, both located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., discussed their latest projects.

“We want to make sure that every development opportunity that is possible can happen here,” Alderman John Arena (45th) told community and business leaders who met to discuss the Six Corners shopping district, Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road

Arena said that a buyer has been lined up for the closed Bank of America facility, 4901 W. Irving Park Road, but that plans for redeveloping the site are not known. In 2011 a developer who proposed an Aldi’s grocery store for the site had the property under contract, but he dropped his plans after he could not obtain a zoning change.

The site measures about 128,000 square feet, and it has two rear parking lots that can accommodate about 250 cars. Arena has said that he would like the building’s second-floor, 300-seat auditorium to be retained and that a commercial project for the site would require a zoning change because the parking area is zoned for residential use.

Arena said that after Bank of America sells the parcel, it plans to once again explore the redevelopment of a 4-acre site that includes its branch at 4747 W. Irving Park Road and a parking lot at 3928-52 N. Milwaukee Ave. A developer proposed building a grocery store, a health club and a new Bank of America branch on the property in 2008 but did not file a zoning application for the project.

The bank wants the redevelopment to include a branch at the corner of Milwaukee and Irving Park that would be smaller that its current 75,000-square-foot facility, Arena said.

Next to the bank is a 278,864-square-foot Peoples Gas facility and parking lot, 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave., and company representatives have expressed interest in selling the property and moving to a smaller parcel if an appropriate location can be found, Arena said. The bank’s two sites and the utility company parcel total about 13 acres in size.

The association is seeking the creation of a pedestrian plaza that would provide shoppers with a shortcut from the 4000 block of Milwaukee to the 4800 block of Irving Park. Preliminary plans call for the city to purchase the Six Corners Bakery building, 4022 N. Milwaukee Ave., and replace it with a landscaped and lighted plaza that would connect to a rear alley, where a pedestrian path connecting to Irving Park would be installed. The alley would remain open to vehicles.

Association executive director Ed Bannon said that the project is in its early planning stages but that the bakery has expressed interest in moving and that the city could use funds from the Portage Park Tax Increment Financing District to purchase the property. The plaza would be next to the planned Taurus Restaurant, 4024-28 N. Milwaukee Ave., which will have a rooftop beer garden.

One of the goals of the new Six Corners Master Plan is the identification of pedestrian routes that would allow shoppers to avoid crossing the busy Six Corners intersection. A common complaint at community meetings is that the width of the intersection makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross the street on a crossing signal.

The association also announced that Ted Sitting Crow Garner submitted the winning design for a 10-foot-tall aluminum sculpture that will be installed in a planter box on the east side of Cicero in front of the Sears Department Store. The sculpture will depict an image of a Native American portaging a canoe.

Nearby Portage Park was named for a portage between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River in the area. Tentative plans call for the sculpture to be installed in June.
It also was announced that admission to the National Veterans Art Museum will continue to be free and that the museum will feature an exhibit by five Iraqi women which demonstrates the effect of having the U.S. military in their country.

The Filament Theater Ensemble will hold free performances of “Crossing Six Corners: A Neighborhood Heritage Project” on Feb. 22 to 24. The play is based on information that the ensemble collected from interviews with local residents and from the Northwest Chicago and Irving Park historical societies.

The association also is working with Sears to help celebrate the store’s 75th anniversary at Six Corners this fall.


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