Planning the 32nd Ward

March 26, 2008

Timothy Inklebarger, Chicago Journal

It could take much of the rest of his first term in office to complete, but 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack is calling on residents, business owners and community organizations to help establish a long-range development plan for the ward.

Waguespack hesitates to refer to it as a ‘master plan’ but said he hopes the document will establish sustainable development principles and contribute to the creation of green space and infrastructure improvements throughout the ward.

‘We want to look to see where each one of the areas can grow in a balanced way,’ Waguespack said.

Waguespack’s office was flooded with proposed zoning change requests upon taking office in 2007, prompting him to establish guidelines that require new buildings to ‘reflect the character and context of the adjacent and other buildings in the surrounding area, comparable in quality, scale, density and building materials.’

‘If [developers] are coming to this office to try to get some kind of zoning relief, there is an expectation that what is going to be built goes along with the guidelines the alderman has set forth,’ said Waguespack chief of staff Paul Sajovec. ‘This fleshes that out in a little more detail.’

Wageuspack said that upon taking office he was advised by 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney to create the master plan. Tunney worked with a variety of civic and business organizations to establish a plan for his ward between 2003 and 2005.

‘I don’t think we’re in a big rush to put out the exact same kind of report or a master plan for the 32nd Ward, but we’re kind of in the preliminary stages of what might be best for each portion of the ward,’ Waguespack said.

Tunney, who primarily represents the Lake View neighborhood, said the process for his area’s plan included the heads of every community organization in the ward, every chamber of commerce and representatives from institutions such as Wrigley Field and area hospitals.

‘It was a painstaking, long process but I felt it’s made my life simpler as we move forward,’ Tunney said. ‘We did look at every parcel of land in the ward and determined what was on there and what it was zoned for to see if we saw some major discrepancies and then did the appropriate zoning changes when necessary.’

The 53-page master plan gives a brief history of the neighborhood, demographic information, descriptions of neighborhood organizations and guidelines for development, among other things.

While many of the recommendations in the plan take a general approach to guiding development, some are more specific. For example, one section prohibits balconies over public sidewalks. Another discourages the use of all variants of concrete block for building facades.

Sajovec said he believes the 32nd Ward plan will take a holistic approach to development.

‘I think it’s more of a process of going through and thinking about what are some general principles that can be applied throughout the ward,’ Sajovec said. ‘The circumstances of zoning and development in Ukrainian Village are completely different than they are in West Lake View.’

He said the plan also will focus on social services, affordable housing and planned manufacturing districts in the North Branch Industrial Corridor just east of Bucktown and Wicker Park.

Waguespack also said he plans to draw from a master plan that is being developed for the Bucktown/Wicker Park Special Service Area, a taxation district that runs throughout commercial corridors of the southern part of the ward.

Jamie Simone, program manager of the Bucktown/Wicker Park SSA, said her group is in the process of completing its master plan. She said the group is holding an open house at 1275 N. Milwaukee from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 29 and April 5 and 12 to gather information from residents and those visiting the area.

She said the forums will ask participants what they would like to see in the neighborhood over the next 20 ears. They also aim to gather stories from neighbors about the area. A panel discussion by local mom and pop business owners will be held at 1 p.m. this Saturday, featuring Sue Daly from Renegade Handmade crafts store, 1924 W. Division, Bill Jacobs of Piece restaurant, 1927 W. North, and Noam Frankel of Greener Cleaner, 1522 N. Damen.

She said the plan is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. It’s uncertain when a 32nd Ward master plan will be finished.