Cultural attractions to provide key to success of Six Corners
by BRIAN NADIG
The success of Six Corners shopping district will depend on its cultural attractions drawing visitors from outside the area, according to Alderman John Arena (45th).
“By bringing new wallets is how we are going to sustain Six Corners,” Arena said at the May 9 meeting of the Six Corners Association. Arena said that most of the people who attended a recent performance at the Filament Theater, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., live outside the area and that stores need to attract customers from outside the neighborhood.
The meeting featured updates on the proposed elimination of the rush hour parking bans on Milwaukee between Lawrence Avenue and Addison Street, a grocery store planned for 4901 W. Irving Park Road and the designation of the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., as a city landmark.
Arena said that he is delaying action on lifting the parking bans until the city restructures its contract with Chicago Park Meters LLC, which has a 75-year lease to manage the meters in the city. Under the terms of the agreement, the city may be required to pay a fee to the company if the bans are lifted even though the company would stand to gain more revenue by an increase in the number hours that motorists could park on Milwaukee, Arena said.
Under the restructured contract, the city would regain control of city-owned metered lots, including the underutilized lot at Laporte and Cuyler avenues. Arena said that the city would be barred from undercutting the metered rates on nearby streets but that the city may be able to sell the 110-space Laporte lot to a operator who could offer more competitive rates in an effort to increase usage of the lot, which operates at about 3 percent capacity.
Arena said that he has not seen a formal plan for a grocery store on the former Bank of America site at Irving Park and Lamon Avenue but that the project must comply with the area’s pedestrian zoning designation, which prohibits new curb cuts and sets building standards for storefronts. “We are very early in the conversation,” he said. “We need to look at the development of Six Corners with new eyes.”
It also was announced that on May 8 the City Council approved landmark status for the 93-year-old Portage Theater. The theater’s marquee is not original to the building, but the landmark status requires that a marquee of “substantial” size be maintained, Arena said.
The other landmark in Six Corners is the Peoples Gas, Light and Coke Building, 4839 W. Irving Park Road, which the Lydia Home Association owns. The association is moving its office there.
Association executive director Ed Bannon said at the meting that the annual Six Corners barbecue festival on June 15 and 16 will have a new art component, including a miniature golf course that will be built by Arts Alive/45 and an exhibit by the National Veterans Art Museum, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. The street festival will be held in the 4000 block of Milwaukee.