Bridgeport and Canaryville need Halsted focus: plan
September 6, 2019

Retail redevelopment is key to revitalizing Bridgeport and Canaryville, according to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

A priorities plan for neighborhood development in Bridgeport and Canaryville recommends focusing first on the commercial corridor of Halsted Street between Archer Avenue on the north and 49th street on the south.

The plan culminates technical assistance provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to a council of local government, business, and residential leaders over the past 18 months. The plan, which offers a blueprint for both short- and long-term development, also recommends extending development to a single-lot depth just east and west of Halsted as well as along key intersecting commercial corridors.

“The plan would not focus on adjacent residential areas, most of which are among Bridgeport and Canaryville’s strongest assets in their current state,” the summary report stated.

Completing the plan is only the prelude to development, said Noah Boggess, CMAP project manager for the plan. He noted the steering committee will conduct ongoing work to develop economic plans and hold panel discussions on retail and housing.

“There will be a couple of different trajectories,” Boggess said, pointing to short-term work with neighborhood organizations such as the South Loop Chamber of Commerce to develop events that bring residents and businesses together for social and business purposes. The larger, longer term planning may involve CMAP or a private firm. Officials aim toward small successes, while doing more involved work that takes time.

“Those more immediate successes are important,” Boggess said. “You need to strike a balance between fatigue and engagement.”

Those associated with the planning process said the work has been helpful in supporting future development.

“The Bridgeport and Canaryville Priorities Plan is a great first step in assessing local assets and opportunities in two great 11th Ward neighborhoods,” said County Commissioner John P. Daley.

He said the plan offers value in guiding economic development and identifying the neighborhood strengths of diversity, easy transportation, and access to affordable housing.

“I’m grateful to all the residents and business owners who assisted in the project, especially the advisory committee of local residents and also to the staff of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning for their commitment to creating the plan,” Daley said. “The advisory committee has already begun working with the Homes for Changing Region coalition and looks forward to working with the Urban Land Institute in the near future.”

Mike Zhou, executive director of the Zhou B Art Center, 1035 W. 35th St., has been involved in planning since the beginning. While business sometimes takes him away from the neighborhood, he said he has been able to host meetings at the center.

“I like what has been done so far,” Zhou said. “We have never had anything like this. I think that whatever changes are coming will be for the better.”

Kevin Hickey, owner and chef at the Duck Inn, 2701 S. Eleanor St., said the plan provides a good map for those who want to invest in the Bridgeport and Canaryville neighborhood.

“We are on the northwest edge of Bridgeport, but I can see the area is going through a renaissance,” Hickey said. “While the business corridor along Halsted is getting better, the business corridor along Archer is somewhat desolate, so it needs help. Geographically, this is a fantastic neighborhood. We are ten minutes away from downtown, from the expressways, from sports venues.

“Everything that is planned won’t happen overnight,” he said. “We need to create more of a buzz. For me and my business—I would open another place, but we need the density.”

CMAP began in 2005, and its Local Technical Assistance program began in 2010. A full description of the Bridgeport and Canaryville plan, including CMAP background, is available at www.cmap.illinois.gov/programs/lta/bridgeport-and-canaryville.

Alderman Patrick D. Thompson did not respond to attempts to contact him for comment.

—Rick Romano