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Construction on Lawrence Avenue west of Western Avenue in Lincoln Square, as seen on Aug. 2, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Ecoglobalsociety

LINCOLN SQUARE — A variety of Lincoln Square construction projects to improve street safety for bicyclists and pedestrians and upgrade Winnemac Park and other parks are getting underway this summer. 

Since taking office in 2019, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) has used community-driven zoning, participatory budgeting and resources like the 2019 master plan for Lincoln Square to help inform his office’s agenda, which includes the creation of the Ainslie Arts Plaza and Lincoln Avenue North Arts, or LANA district.

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) explains “Develop-alooza 2024” during a June 5, 2024 town hall at DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Ecoglobalsociety

Vasquez updated neighbors on the slate of construction projects he jokingly dubbed “Develop-alooza 2024” during a Wednesday town hall at DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave.

“You all pay taxes to help improve services, infrastructure or other things in your area and you want to see your return on that investment. If you don't see a return on the amount of tax dollars you put in, you start feeling a certain way about government where you're living, right?” Vasquez said. “So part of our job is to make sure we explain and show you all what some of those returns are, because it's not often talked about.”

Here’s what to look out for this year:

Major Street Projects

Far North Side bike network map presented during a 40th Ward town hall on June 5, 2024. Credit: Provided.

Major thoroughfares and side streets will be resurfaced this summer.

Construction on the Lincoln Avenue streetscape between Foster and Western will get underway this summer and include a new parkway plaza, protected bike lanes, new landscaping, wider sidewalks and a new diagonal parking plan on Catalpa Avenue, according to plans.

“We added diagonal parking there, which allows us to also remove some parking on Lincoln to create a protected bike lane and not have a large net [parking] loss for folks,” Vasquez said. “The people spaces are for folks to hang out and makes it easier for restaurants to have expanded outdoor dining.”

The Lawrence Avenue streetscape project that runs along Lawrence between Western Avenue and the river should be completed by fall, according to plans.

Arterial streets slated to be resurfaced this year include Damen, Ashland, Ravenswood, Western, California, Bryn Mawr and Pratt Boulevard.

“I'm excited about this because your streets are going to be smoother. Also, because of the city's complete streets ordinance, any arterial resurfacing project is going to have to include pedestrian and bike safety infrastructure,” said Alison Murphy, Vasquez’s director of communications and development.

For example, Damen Avenue will get raised crosswalks and curb extensions; Ashland Avenue will get pedestrian islands, in-lane bus lanes and curb extensions; and Ravenswood will get speed humps, neighborhood bikeway and bike corrals, according to the plans.

The new construction will also help tie these streets into a far North Side bike network that includes the greenways along Winnemac, Leland and Ainslie, as well as protected bike lanes along Lincoln and Pratt coming this year and the Berwyn and Rockwell greenway expansion slated for next year, officials said.

Additionally, “collector streets” like Granville, Thorndale and Hollywood avenues as well as Ainslie Street will also be resurfaced.

Park Improvements

Amundsen High School coach Craig Newman pours quick-dry clay onto the baseball field at Winnemac Park April 21, 2022. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Ecoglobalsociety

Crews will begin work on upgrading Winnemac Park, 5100 N. Leavitt St., and five other parks in the ward this summer.

Construction will begin soon on fixes to Winnemac Park’s flood-prone fields.

In addition to better drainage and a new artificial turf field, the park will also get new batting cages, player benches, sports lighting, ADA-accessible paths and bleachers; renovated tennis courts; and new pickleball striping on the east tennis court, according to park district plans.

Crews are underway building Park 599, 1623 W. Edgewater Ave., a new park located in part of the now-defunct Edgewater Hospital complex.

Park amenities will include a drinking fountain, updated pavers and sidewalks, new trees and landscaping — including a rain garden — as well as new tables, benches and ornamental fencing, according to plans.

“It’s soon to be renamed West Edgewater Green Park. This is in its final stages and should be done by the end of June,” said Deirdre O’Connor, Vasquez’s director of constituent services. “And then stay tuned because we're gonna have a wonderful ribbon-cutting celebration for the park.”

Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave., will get a renovated cricket field; new shuffleboard, horseshoe and bocce ball courts; new pickleball and volleyball courts; new baseball and cricket batting cages; and a nature play area.

Emmerson Park, 1820 W. Granville Ave., has new workout equipment, and its tennis court renovations should be done this summer, according to plans.

Crews at Green Briar Park, 2650 W. Peterson Ave., are installing basketball courts and renovating tennis courts, according to plans.

And West Ridge Nature Park, 5801 N. Western Ave., is getting new storage facilities and possibly a new art installation. Designs for both should be finalized by the end of 2024 with construction slated for next year, according to plans.

Ainslie Arts Plaza Upgrades

Rendering of the upgrades coming to the Ainslie Arts Plaza. Credit: Provided.

The plaza at 4836 N. Lincoln Ave. started hosting outdoor events in 2020 and is the southernmost anchor of the local arts district.

This year, the plaza will get a new performance stage, decorative pavers, new lighting, an entrance sign and decorative storage, according to plans.

“You guys saw the early version, right? So we had paint as well as some improvements there, but that was only to hold us over until the full streetscape. This is a better look at what it’s going to look like,” Vasquez said. “You’ll have a stage with power there, so you can actually do more events.”

Neighbors will also be able to enjoy upgraded seating with new benches, tables and chairs as well as new shade structures, trees and other landscaping features and added pedestrian safety features like new fencing and bollards, according to plans.

The construction is expected to be completed this year, Vasquez said.

New Elise Malary Plaza

Rendering of what the Elise Malary Plaza could look like. Credit: Provided.

Crews will also be working on the new Elise Malary Plaza in Andersonville, named after the longtime advocate for trans Chicagoans and a beloved member of the Andersonville community, who died in 2022.

This is Andersonville’s first pedestrian plaza and will be located on Catalpa Avenue between Clark and Ashland, closing off that section of street to car traffic, according to plans.

The plaza will feature raised planters with native pollinator plants, shade structures and landscaped screens for separation from adjacent parking lots, new lighting, new pavers and concrete sidewalks as well as bike racks and decorative trash bins, according to plans.

The new plaza is near Elise Malary Way, an honorary street sign memorializing the founding member of the Chicago Therapy Collective who was an integral part of Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community.

To keep up-to-date with the latest developments coming to the 40th Ward, visit the ward’s website.

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