Master plan for Lake View could be model for other neighborhoods

March 15, 2011

Business and civic leaders in the Lake View community today are taking the wraps off a neighborhood master plan that they say will make the North Side area more walkable, greener and livable.

The Lake View Area Master Plan is series of relatively small-scale fixes that planners hope will add up to creating a more attractive neighborhood. What's unusual is the plan doesn't come from City Hall planners, but from the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce which administers the neighborhood's Special Service Area 27, a locally-managed business improvement district funded by property taxes levied within the area. The plan will be shown and discussed at 7pm at St. Luke's Church Memorial Hall, 1500 W. Belmont.

The work of firms Place Consulting and Moss Design, the master plan calls for a turning the dead zone beneath the Brown Line between Southport and Paulina into an inviting, lighted pedestrian path with native landscaping. The plan suggests new streetscape at the Lincoln, Ashland and Belmont corner, and creating dedicated bikelanes.There's also some long-range thinking such creating a co-op where business owners can buy renewable energy; building a dedicated space for farmers' markets, and encouraging business to locate closer to public transit.

One wonders if this isn't the glimpse of the future. The city has 51 special service areas--including new ones in South Shore, Calumet Heights/Avalon Park and Chatham--each designed to levy taxes on businesses to pay for improvements that fall outside of city services. Normally, that means extra trash cans, sidewalk cleaning, business signage, planters, or private security firms to keep watch over the merchants. The Lake View Area Master Plan shows much more can be done.