Sidewalks slated for Jeff Park
by BRIAN NADIG
Several sections of sidewalk in front of undeveloped properties in the Jefferson Park shopping district are being replaced.
The locations are the south side of Lawrence Avenue between Milwaukee Avenue and Laramie Avenue and the portions of Lipps Avenue and Ainslie Street which border the former Cowhey Materials and Fuel Company site, 5310 W. Ainslie St., which is adjacent to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal.
Most of the sidewalks are in front of gravel parking lots and the new sidewalks could be torn up as part of a future redevelopment project, but any developer would be required to restore the sidewalk, Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said. Because it is not known when the sites would be redeveloped, it was decided that the condition of the sidewalks was so poor that they have to be replaced for safety reasons, Brugh said.
The project, which will cost about $136,000, is being paid for from the 45th Ward’s 2012 discretionary fund. Brugh said that the money became available when a project to install a curb at Higgins and Mango avenues came in under budget. He said that the curb project was rolled into the Higgins resurfacing project, saving a significant amount of money.
Some of the new sidewalks will be installed in the 5200 and 5300 blocks of Lawrence, where an attempt to build a retail-residential development failed to materialize after a decade of planning by the city Department of Housing and Economic Development. At one time plans called for a building to be as tall as 10 stories, but former alderman Patrick Levar rejected the project in response to community opposition, and the city backed out of its redevelopment agreement with the developer, the Mega Group.
The city ended up purchasing some of the land after condemning some of the properties, but Mega still owns the most of the lots. The sidewalk also is being replaced in front of Sportif Importer, 5225 W. Lawrence Ave., a bicycle shop that is between the undeveloped parcels on Lawrence.
Brugh said that Arena is pursuing redevelopment options for the parcels.