Alley to be ‘urban planning lab’


An alley across Milwaukee Avenue from the Jefferson Park CTA terminal will be temporarily transformed into an urban planning lab with art work that is designed to facilitate discussions on residents’ walking patterns to and from public transportation in the area.

The Good City Group, which brings architects, urban planners and community members together in an effort to develop healthy and sustainable practices, will hold the event on Sunday, Oct. 11. The group is part of Archeworks, a Chicago-based design school that encourages cross-disciplinary thinking.

The event is part of the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ "Chicago Artists Month," which features exhibits and other programming between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15.

The alley is between Popeye’s Chicken, 4866 N. Milwaukee Ave., and the former First Staffing building, 4872 N. Milwaukee Ave. The alley is used as a cut-through for people walking to terminal, and plans call for a signalized pedestrian crossing on Milwaukee to be installed at or near the alley.

The project is intended to encourage commuters to walk or bike to the CTA terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., and the Forest Glen Metra station, 5301 N. Leclaire Ave., by creating visually appealing routes that feature some of the area’s cultural and historical landmarks in the area, according to architect Odile Compagnon, who is a professor at the School of the Art Institute.

The project’s name "The Last Mile" reflects the goal of creating approximately mile-long routes that lead to the transit stations.

Although plans have not been completed, it is possible that an area map would be painted on the alley in order to facilitate discussion of the walking patterns of residents, Compagnon said. Other artistic elements, such as street furniture, also may be used, she said.

Jefferson Park and Forest Glen were chosen for the project, which is called the "The Last Mile," because both neighborhoods serve as a gateway to Chicago and because their culturally diverse populations contribute to the urban character of the area, Compagnon said. In addition, a planned $25 million renovation of the Jefferson Park terminal also attracted project organizers to the area, she said.

Good City has been working on the project with Alderman John Arena (45th), and it has met with members of several community organizations, including the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, the Forest Glen Community Club and the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.