Placemaking at the forefront of the new Polish Triangle Marketplace - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Placemaking at the forefront of the new Polish Triangle Marketplace

WPB, the Special Service Area for the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, has become intricately involved in the stewardship of the Polish Triangle (located at the intersection of Milwaukee, Division and Ashland) since the area was identified as a critical neighborhood gateway in need of improvement in our 2009 WPB Master Plan.  The Polish Triangle is host to three bus lines and a busy underground CTA Blue Line station, and is recognized and used by local residents as a public plaza.  Unfortunately, this space has suffered from years of inactivity and neglect. In early 2009, WPB teamed up with the Metropolitan Planning Council to direct a Placemaking initiative for the Polish Triangle, with a wide range of neighborhood stakeholders serving on the initiative’s technical assistance steering committee. Through an online network group, interactive survey, and open house, more than 700 people contributed their ideas for transforming the space. The resulting report, Placemaking at the Polish Triangle  summarizes this input and identifies ways to implement some of the changes. The Polish Triangle Marketplace is just one of the ideas we heard from the community.

The Polish Triangle will host a farmers market on Thursday evenings this summer, providing local residents with a fun weeknight activity and a place to grab groceries for dinner on their way home from work.

As part of WPB’s ongoing summer programming at the triangle and with the support of the First Ward Alderman’s Office and the City of Chicago, we are hosting the Polish Triangle Marketplace on Thursday evenings from 2 to 8 p.m. starting on Thursday, June 30, and continuing through September 29, 2011. The marketplace will have eight vendors selling food products and flowers, and two vendors serving food on-site.

The approval process has been very smooth with the City, with the support of the 1st Ward Alderman’s Office and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. We have found that most people and community groups (including our elected officials) are excited to see a new activity at the Polish Triangle.

We are often asked why it's important for the neighborhood to have this kind of farmer's market. We believe that by bringing regular activity to the Polish Triangle, we will reintroduce the plaza to the community, with the end result will being a lively public space embraced and cherished by all. With over 700 stakeholders backing new efforts at the triangle, we are excited to help bring this event to this important and central space.

The marketplace will be held on Thursdays to avoid competition with the existing thriving weekend markets and to provide residents with a fun weeknight activity. People who want to pick up a few easy fresh items for dinner or fresh flowers on their way home from the train or bus stop will have a new option in the marketplace.

Right now we are considering the 2011 season as a pilot program. If it is successful this year, I hope that marketplace expansion will be considered in future seasons. As of early June, we currently have eight confirmed vendors and can’t wait to introduce them the community around the Polish Triangle. We are still accepting and encouraging marketplace applications (there is still space for two more!). Vendors can download the application and get more information here.

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