Chicago's Lawrence Avenue Is Changing—Is the Neighborhood Ready?

The Lawrence Avenue corridor in Chicago is poised to evolve into "New Lawrence," but as development proposals follow a streetscape improvement project, the community is still sorting out what exactly "new" should mean.
December 15, 2015, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Patty Wetli reports in the wake of the Lawrence Avenue streetscape improvement in Chicago, where pedestrian and bike friendly investments where designed to attract developers along the corridor. In fact, "[n]ow that all major work on the streetscape has been completed, including a controversial 'road diet' that removed a lane of traffic, signs indicate the project is beginning to deliver on that promise," explains Wetli.

The article dives into the details of a few of the development proposals for new density along the corridor. In the process, a telling point about the catalytic limitations of the streetscape improvements is made: despite the street reconfiguration, foot traffic is still lagging in the neighborhood. What's needed to achieve something special in the neighborhood, according to one developer quoted in the article, is "to build up the busy streets."

The development plans have provoked opposition from some locals, one local in particular, Bob Farster, is hoping to create a neighborhood association to help keep the focus on what can be done, rather than just insisting on what should not be done. "The trick," writes Wetli, "will be to find the middle ground between developers who would like to see all of Lawrence redeveloped in one swoop and residents who would like to reject everything."

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Published on Friday, December 11, 2015 in DNAinfo Chicago
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