Study will create marketing materials and identify opportunity sites on Milwaukee Ave. in effort to revitalize Jefferson Park & Six Corners, Ald. Gardiner says
by BRIAN NADIG
A planned analysis of Milwaukee Avenue between Irving Park Road in Six Corners and Gale Street in Jefferson Park will generate marketing materials to attract businesses and investment to the area, according to Alderman James Gardiner (45th).
The Six Corners district has several large development projects under construction due to an unusual number of large parcels that came available for development at about the same, Gardiner said.
They include a retail-residential development for the former Sears site at 4730 W. Irving Park Road and a senior living complex at the former Bank of America site at 4747 W. Irving Park Road.
While Jefferson Park does not have the block-long development sites seen at Six Corners, the Lawrence-Milwaukee district is expected to see improvements in the next few years as developers and investors look for opportunities north of Six Corners, Gardiner said.
“As alderman I’m committed to being an advocate for community-based development,” Gardiner said. “(In the next few years) we’ll focus on Jefferson Park. It’s a traffic hub for the city of Chicago, and it’s going to be very attractive to people looking to invest.”
Gardiner added, “Jefferson Park has great opportunities … a neighborhood trending upwards and on the upswing.”
Nevertheless, Gardiner acknowledged that revitalizing Jefferson Park won’t be easy given some of the current conditions.
Multiple storefronts and lots have been vacant for more than 20 years in and near the Milwaukee-Lawrence commercial district. In some instances properties were upzoned years ago for a development, including a 16-story building at 5306 W. Ainslie St., but construction has not occurred.
In the late 1990s the city Department of Planning and Development encouraged the demolition of commercial buildings for a project that never materialized. As result, several businesses closed or relocated.
At the center of the business district is the former CVS Pharmacy at 4777 N. Milwaukee Ave. While it’s been closed for nearly 3 1/2 years, CVS reportedly has a lease that does not expire for about 5 more years, possibly complicating efforts for a new tenant to move in.
Gardiner said that he worked with the planning department on securing the $140,000 study, which will focus on a 1.5-mile stretch of Milwaukee.
That stretch includes vacant lots at 4031-33 N. Milwaukee Ave., 4301 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 4900-08 N. Milwaukee Ave, the closed Portage Theater at 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. and the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal at 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
SB Friedman Development Advisors will be a consultant for the study, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year, Gardiner said.
The study’s main goals will be to identify opportunity sites and generate marketing materials that will be given to retailers and developers, Gardiner said. He added that the study will be an important tool in encouraging investment on Milwaukee.
The project’s consultant plans to collect input from a variety of community stakeholders.
A Milwaukee/Lawrence study was conducted in 2007-08. The study never went through a formal approval process, being pulled from an agenda at the last minute due to controversies, and, as a result, the city has labeled it “a draft.”
Another study was conducted about 10 years later, and the Chicago Plan Commission approved it in late 2018.