Review the draft recommendations

Northcenter residents gathered on September 12 to review and provide feedback on the the draft recommendations for the Northcenter Vision.

Recommendations:

The desired future for the District will depend on increasing residential density while broadening the range of housing types and price points, the continuation of high quality schools, amplifying the District brand and identity and improving the public right of way to create a comfortable street experience for users of all ages and physical abilities. Recommendations to achieve the desired future have been divided into four categories: Neighborhood Identity, Public Way Improvements, Business Support, and Density. While none of

Northcenter residents gathered on September 12 to review and provide feedback on the the draft recommendations for the Northcenter Vision.

Recommendations:

The desired future for the District will depend on increasing residential density while broadening the range of housing types and price points, the continuation of high quality schools, amplifying the District brand and identity and improving the public right of way to create a comfortable street experience for users of all ages and physical abilities. Recommendations to achieve the desired future have been divided into four categories: Neighborhood Identity, Public Way Improvements, Business Support, and Density. While none of these recommendations alone will provide the desired future, put together they can work to provide a larger population and a welcoming street environment to support local businesses.


Neighborhood Identity

  • Reinforce the existing Northcenter Chamber of Commerce brand and expand throughout the district by using the existing color scheme and logo to unify street furniture. Focus existing furniture like bike racks, trash cans, benches and incorporate new wayfinding kiosks to unify the District. Additionally, stenciling “Provided by SSA #38” to the street furniture will raise awareness of the benefit the SSA is providing to the community.


  • Distinguish all major entry points as gateways to the District. Create a cohesive District experience that connects the areas north and south of Irving Park Road, including the new Town Square, by installing gateway signage and wayfinding kiosks that further amplify the District brand and provide critical information to users.

  • Partner with local organizations and businesses to promote a welcoming street environment. Use elements like signage, awnings, planters, lights, sandwich boards, banners, seating and dog bowls throughout the District to create a stronger sense of place.


Public Way Improvements

  • Partner with the Chicago Dept. of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety program to explore improvements to the public right of way at critical locations. Prioritize the six-corner intersection at Lincoln Avenue, Irving Park Road and Damen Avenue. Northcenter Vision participants mapped safety priority areas and reported concerns about high traffic speeds, and a general lack of feeling of safety, particularly when walking or biking. Youth reported that their parents do not allow them to use the major streets due to safety concerns. Examine opportunities to install curb extensions, protected bike lanes, crosswalk improvements, and signal timing. These improvements could provide additional benefits of reducing the barrier created by Irving Park Road between the northern and southern portions of the District while providing additional opportunities for District branding. Additionally, Northenter Vision participants reported that the intersections of Wolcott Avenue and Irving Park Road and Hoyne Avenue and Irving Park Road should also be prioritized for similar improvements.

  • Consider tools from Chicago Dept. of Transportation’s Make Way for People program to install one or more People Spots in key locations in the District. The Metropolitan Planning Council’s study Chicago’s People Spots reported that 80% of businesses found that People Spots increased foot traffic and tend to be more successful when located in close proximity to food establishments. To test the concept of installing a People Spot, participate in PARK(ing) Day.


Business Support


  • Make Northcenter a destination for residents and visitors by curating multiple four hour experiences. The four hour experience refers to a place where visitors and residents have multiple reasons to visit a business district: shopping, dining, cultural activities, people watching, entertainment, relaxing in a public space and more. Potential experiences include spending a Saturday morning visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying brunch in a local restaurant, and shopping at District boutiques. Another experience could include partnering with the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce Northcenter for beer tastings at local breweries followed by shopping and dining in the District.


  • Highlight unique experiential businesses such as 3854-3862 Lincoln Avenue. This unique and well-curated block is a destination within the District and should be highlighted to attract visitors who might be opting to spend their time and money in nearby neighborhoods instead.


  • Host entrepreneur tours to highlight business opportunities. Develop a target list of business types that will benefit the District including a broader range of restaurants, clothing and apparel, home goods and furnishings, coffee shops, family- and teen-friendly businesses (cooking, art, birthday parties, places to “drop-in”) and art galleries.


  • Expand upon existing events like Small Business Saturday. Host additional similar programs like late night shopping throughout the holiday season. Build on the successful holiday lights initiative, invite businesses to provide beverages or holiday treats, provide live music in key locations. Host pop-up vendors in vacant storefronts and encourage shoppers to dine locally.


  • Consider events that can either unify OR subdivide the district. In marketing Chamber events, offer distinct experiences that capture the northern or southern geography.



  • Participate in PARK(ing) Day to introduce users of the District to the concept of a People Spot. Host a competition for the best PARK(ing) Day design that could inform the design of a future People Spot.




Density

  • Launch an education and communication campaign on the benefits of increasing density near transit. The District has very strong public transit assets with the Irving Park Brown Line and the Addison station just to the south.

  • Capitalize on existing tools like the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) to encourage the creation of new affordable housing units in the District. The ARO “applies to residential developments of 10 or more units and requires that developers provide 10 percent of their units at affordable prices. The ordinance also applies if a zoning change is granted that increases the project density or allows a residential use not previously allowed.” Encourage developers to keep affordable units on site.

  • Discourage two to four unit deconversions and support legislation for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). Participate in programs like AARP Community Challenge Grant 2019, which recently provided a grant to Chicago non-profit, Elevate Energy, to help “low-income senior homeowners make comprehensive renovations to their two-unit buildings.” Maintaining multi-family buildings and ADUs can provide rental opportunities that can help maintain affordability for long term residents and increase rental units, increase density and promote aging in place for seniors.

  • Increase density at opportunity sites. Increase density up to six stories at 3904 N. Damen Ave.,five stories at 1801 W. Grace Ave., and four stories at 4008 N. Lincoln Ave.

  • Launch an education and communication campaign to inform residents and other stakeholders of the benefits that increasing density could provide for the Northcenter Business District. Helping residents and business owners make the connection between density and a healthy business district would allow for productive community conversations regarding new development proposals.

  • Host developer tours, proactively seek out developers who are interested in building on-site affordable housing.