Pedestrian plaza will be installed in alley across from Jefferson Park CTA Terminal and include decorative archway, seating, small stage
by BRIAN NADIG
A pedestrian plaza with decorative seating and a small stage will be soon replacing a portion of an alley across from the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The public gathering space will be located in a 16-foot wide alley located between Weston’s Coffee and Tap Co., 4872 N. Milwaukee ave., and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, 4866 N. Milwaukee Ave. The north portion of the alley will be permanently closed to vehicle traffic once construction of the plaza starts this summer, and the owners of properties adjacent to that portion of the alley agreed to the closure.
The project has been in the works for six years, and the alley, whose address is 4870 N. Milwaukee Ave., was chosen for the project in part because it is often used as a pedestrian shortcut between Milwaukee Avenue and Higgins Avenue.
In addition, there reportedly is a low volume of vehicles using the north portion of the alley. The south portion connects to Higgins Avenue and will remain open to vehicles, allowing access to an alley that runs parallel to Milwaukee Avenue.
Jefferson Park Forward, a local neighborhood group, has signed an agreement with the city to maintain the plaza and pay the electrical bill for the overhead strand lighting that will be installed there.
“It’s a place for people to gather that is public space,” said JPF member Susanna Ernst, who has been advocating for the plaza for several years. “Eventually JPF hopes to have some programming there, some music the community can enjoy.”
Ernst said that during the planning process representatives of the city Department of Transportation indicated that the plaza would be the first-of-its-kind in a Chicago alley. She added that the plaza is similar to the temporary “people spots” that are installed on platforms in parking lanes and other public way areas during the summer but that the alley will be a permanent installation.
Representatives of JPF and the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce and Weston’s owner Nick Davis worked with city officials on the project.
“I am proud to see various individuals work collaboratively to achieve a common goal that will benefit both residents and business owners in our Jefferson Park community,” Alderman James Gardiner (45th) said.
The approximately $500,000 project is being funded through the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District.
The plaza will include a community identifier archway at its Milwaukee entrance and permeable pavers.
Editor’s note: Nadig Newspapers’ publisher Brian Nadig is president of the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce.