City commission approves Six Corners master plan
The unveiling of a 10-foot aluminum sculpture that pays tribute to the area’s Native-American heritage this fall is one of several new outdoor gathering spots planned for the Six Corners shopping district.
Developing outdoor spaces that will encourage more foot traffic in the shopping district is one of six principles that make up the "Six Corners Economic Development Master Plan." The Chicago Plan Commission approved the plan, which is expected to help shape the redevelopment of several key sites, including the former Bank of America facility, 4901 W. Irving Park Road, at its Aug. 15 meeting.
The Six Corners Association is installing the sculpture, which will depict a Native American portaging a canoe, in a planter box on the east side of Cicero Avenue in front of the Sears Department Store. The Portage Park neighborhood was named for a portage between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River.
The association also is working on creating a pedestrian plaza that would provide shoppers with a shortcut from the 4000 block of Milwaukee Avenue to the 4800 block of Irving Park Road. The association has had preliminary discussions with the Six Corners Bakery, 4022 N. Milwaukee Ave., about moving to make room for the plaza.
"Outdoor gathering spots help create a sense of place and encourage more people to come to Six Corners," the plan states. "These outdoor plazas could be on public property, or they could be privately owned, such as outdoor eating spaces adjacent to restaurants."
The other principles in the plan call for attracting businesses that appeal to the diversity in the community, enhancing the area’s cultural and entertainment offerings, upgrading facades and storefronts, improving pedestrian flow in the district and planning for the redevelopment of large parcels.
"Six Corners has a long history as a successful neighborhood shopping and entertainment district," the plan states. "An iconic Sears store, the Portage Theater, the Marketplace at Six Corners and a number of smaller businesses serve the residents of Portage Park and neighboring communities in Chicago’s Northwest Side. In recent decades, however, Six Corners has experienced a loss of retailers along its commercial corridors and is in need of physical improvements to both buildings and infrastructure."
Alderman John Arena (45th) said that community input went into creating plan and that he is asking prospective developers to follow its recommendations. Arena said that the ability to provide developers a written document that the city has endorsed should leave little doubt about the community’s expectations.
The master plan calls for the former Bank of America property at Irving Park Road and Lamon Avenue to be preserved. However, an initial plan for the site called for the demolition of the two-story building, which has a 300-seat auditorium on the second floor, to allow construction of a new grocery store.
Arena said that the new owner of the property is exploring options for the site. A for lease sign recently was posted on the property, which has two parking lots with 260 parking spaces behind the 63,500-square-foot building.
"A reuse and re-tenanting of the existing two-story . . . Bank of America complex would be a major contribution to the Six Corners business district, activating a largely vacant and underutilized block," the plan states.
The plan suggests that a three- or four-story mixed-use development could be built on the west end of the block on the site of a former tire shop at 4939 W. Irving Park Road and that eight townhouses could be built on a portion of the rear parking lot along Dakin Street. It also recommends that an alley be converted into a pedestrian-only zone for part of the day to facilitate access to a rear entrance to the building.
Arena said that the grocery store plan would require the acquisition of additional properties. "The problem is that he doesn’t control the entire block, and he would need a zoning change and would need to vacate an alley," he said. "He’s looking for tenants to take the second floor. There are a couple of different paths that we can go down. We would like to maintain the street wall."
Also in the shopping district, the bank is trying to sell its property at 4747 W. Irving Park Road but is requiring that a smaller bank facility be part of any redevelopment plan for the site, which includes a large underutilized parking area. A bidding process for the property ended recently.
Arena said that he has talked to developers who planned to bid on the property and that he referred them to the master plan. "We want something that is a sustainable development," he said.
The master plan proposes a new four- to five-story building on the corner site that would reflect the height and scale of the Sears store and Klee Plaza buildings and suggests that the site also is large enough to include a community gathering space.
Arena has said that the Six Corners area needs more residential development density to provide a larger customer base for businesses and that the cultural attractions in the area will play a significant role in attracting more shoppers.
A copy of the master plan is available at www.nadignewspapers.com.
A copy of the master plan is available at HERE