On March 11, 2004, MPC testified before the Chicago Plan Commission on the Riverside Park proposal for Chicago's near south side. Plans for the long-vacant, 62-acre site include new retail space, residential townhomes, condominiums and a continuation of t
- By Guest Author
- March 11, 2004
Chairman Peter C.B. Bynoe
Chicago Plan Commission
121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 1000
Chicago, IL 60602
Dear Chairman Bynoe:
The Metropolitan Planning Council has reviewed Rezmar’s plans for Riverside Park. MPC is pleased to support the project, and offers the following suggestions for improvement.
The project represents an exciting addition to the redeveloping Near South Side. The mixed-use character of the project holds the potential for a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood. The project’s ambitious retail plans will make a significant contribution to a currently underserved market. We are pleased that Riverside Park complies with the Central Area Plan’s vision for the area by creating a high-density, mixed-use environment along the Roosevelt Road Corridor and by developing the riverfront park system throughout the project with the potential to link to new park space to the south and an expanded Ping Tom Park. The higher density residential uses will serve as built-in market support for the retail businesses. The riverfront park will ensure adequate open space for residents and non-residents alike as well as link the riverfront neighborhoods together with contiguous green space.
MPC commends Rezmar for its detailed design guidelines and bold plans for this long vacant site along the south river corridor. The following list represents some additional recommendations to improve the project and review process.
- Wells Street Extension: This particular 62-acre site represents significant development challenges due to changing grade levels and existing rail infrastructure. Rezmar has dealt creatively with the infrastructure concerns, but as street connectivity is critical for pedestrian and vehicular access and circulation to the site, the timing of roadwork is crucial. This is especially true of the Wells Street connection to Wentworth, which is the only street that completely traverses the site and provides an external connection for the project with the existing street grid. MPC urges Rezmar and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to resolve outstanding funding and timing issues to insure the road extension is done during the first phase of development.
- Public Input: Ikea’s departure as a main anchor tenant of Subarea A leaves a large portion in the middle of the site open to further design based upon the ultimate tenant composition. MPC understands that Rezmar is pursuing a number of different options for that parcel. Given that parcel’s size and potential impact on the overall project, we suggest the Plan Commission hold another public meeting once Rezmar’s design for that portion of the site is more advanced.
- Integrated Pedestrian Access: To ensure the greatest possible public benefit of the mixed-use character of the area, MPC urges Rezmar and CDOT to explore ways to expedite a pedestrian connection to the site from 15th Street to the east. As the Near South Side develops, it is important to ensure that all neighborhoods are connected, particularly to the wonderful new river edge park being created, to enhance the livability of the entire area.
- Affordable Housing: MPC strongly supports the inclusion of affordable housing in the Riverside Park project to ensure that there is a range of housing options at a variety of income levels for Near South Side residents. Once final negotiations are complete, we would appreciate a detailed report on the number, size, price points, and locations of affordable housing units contained in the project.
MPC is pleased to support this project that will positively contribute to the redevelopment of the Near South Side neighborhood. We encourage Rezmar and the City to address the above concerns as it moves forward with the planning and construction of the project.
Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations
CC: Alderman Madeline Haithcock
Chicago Plan Commission
Commissioner Denise Casalino