6 Corners pedestrian amenities planned; options considered for Cuyler
by BRIAN NADIG
About $3 million in pedestrian amenities and other public infrastructure improvements are planned for the Six Corners area.
Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) made the announcement at a Dec. 17 community meeting on a proposed redevelopment plan for the former Sears department store site at 4730 W. Irving Park Road.
The improvements are coming from the Irving-Cicero Tax Increment Financing District, which expires at the end of this year. Gardiner said in an interview that he plans to discuss with the mayor’s office about whether the TIF district should be renewed or allowed to sunset.
Plans call for a small pedestrian plaza, with a possible seating area, to be installed in an alley that serves as a cut-through walkway between Cicero Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue. The plaza would be located between the rear of the Klee Plaza, 4001-17 N. Milwaukee Ave. and Walgreens Pharmacy, 4040 N. Cicero Ave.
"We’re trying to make the (walkway) more inviting so more people will use it," Gardiner said. The Six Corners Master Plan calls for enhancements to alleys in the commercial district so that they can become usable pedestrian pathways.
Other planned improvements include widened crosswalks and pedestrian bump outs on Belle Plaine from Cicero to Milwaukee and new streetlights on sidewalks along Cicero from Irving Park Road to Berenice Avenue.
Alley and street resurfacing and curb and gutter improvements also are planned.
Meanwhile, plans to close Cuyler Avenue between Milwaukee Avenue and the first alley to the west are on hold. Former alderman John Arena had announced a plan to close the street to traffic in order to accommodate the installation of a pedestrian plaza.
Gardiner said that a variety of design options for the project are being considered for Cuyler but that the city Department of Transportation and several merchants have raised concerns about the project, which he said could cost up to $6 million. It would be funded through the Portage Park Tax Increment Financing District.
The owner of a commercial center along the north side of Cuyler has expressed concern that the project would close off the center’s driveway on Cuyler, which runs one-way heading west, Gardiner said.
In addition, Cuyler is the only street from Milwaukee which motorists can access the city parking lot at Cuyler and Laporte Avenue, Gardiner said. The direction of some of the area’s one-way streets would have to be altered in order to continue access from Milwaukee, to the lot, which also can be reached from Irving Park Road.
At the Dec. 17 meeting, some audience members spoke in favor of replacing Cuyler with a pedestrian walkway.