Master plan for Gladstone Pk corridor to be presented at Dec. 6 meeting

by Brian Nadig

The history behind creating a wide thoroughfare in Gladstone Park and guidelines for revitalizing the commercial corridor will be discussed at a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the 16th (Jefferson Park) District Police Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.

A master plan which outlines the development of Milwaukee Avenue north of the Kennedy Expressway and which offers recommendations for fostering the growth of the business district will be presented at the community meeting. City Department of Planning and Development senior planner Benet Haller will be the guest speaker.

Haller developed the plan with input from the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association and aldermen Margaret Laurino and John Arena. Residents gave their input a community workshop last winter.

The plan identifies sections of Milwaukee which may be targeted for redevelopment and includes recommendations for existing businesses, including the need for stores and restaurants to share underutilized parking lots. The Gladstone Park corridor on Milwaukee runs primarily from Foster on the south to Devon on the North.

The plan also calls for the expansion of the Divvy bike-sharing program along Milwaukee near the planned Pulse express bus stops. This PACE-operated bus will travel with limited stops between the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal and the Golf Mill shopping center in Niles.

A draft of the plan states that Milwaukee, which at one time was a toll road, was one of the first streets established on the Northwest Side, serving as a route between the Chicago area and Wisconsin.

In the 1920s, Milwaukee north of Foster Avenue was widened as part of a plan to extend or widen 100 miles of streets in the city. “This widening was relatively easy because most of the property along the Gladstone Park portion of Milwaukee was undeveloped,” the plan states.

The subsequent 100-foot depth of these lots is 25 feet shorter than the typical commercial parcel in Chicago, creating design challenges for new projects, according to the department. Currently Milwaukee is a four-lane roadway for traffic, with additional lanes for parking and bikes on each side of the street.

The plan also notes that the Gladstone Park corridor lacks some of the distinctive urban features normally associated with neighborhood shopping districts in Chicago.

“Given the great length of this segment of Milwaukee, it is clearly not a single retail corridor but more or less a series of distinct nodes, each of which contain distinct buildings and businesses.

“At the same time there are characteristics which differentiate this segment of Milwaukee Avenue from other retail corridors in Chicago, and some near-term projects are likely to make it even more distinctive,” the plan states.

The area has several two-story banks with drive-through facilities and two suburban-looking funeral homes, and the best-known business is Superdawg, a popular hot dog stand with carhops at 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to the plan.

“The wide street, overall low scale of buildings, shallow lots, unusual car-oriented architecture and the profusion of signs create an environment more similar to major streets in Los Angeles that old, traditional retail streets in Chicago,” the plan states.