The Town Square in the North Center neighborhood is a rare example of a centralized public space for residents to use for recreation and assembly, but other than its occasional use for summer farmers markets and seasonal events, the space largely sits idle. To help give the public plaza space more visibility and to spur more activity in and around the area, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar has teamed up with the North Center Chamber of Commerce, the North Center Neighborhood Association, and Port Urbanism to discuss new ideas to help “activate” the public space.
According to DNAinfo, Alderman Pawar has committed $500,000 to help overhaul the space. North Center neighborhood stakeholders have tapped the urban design and master planning outfit Port Urbanism to explore different features and offerings which could help transform and reshape the North Center Town Square into a space that could be used year-round. Some ideas include adding new integrated seating, play areas, more planters and trees, in-ground lighting, public art, and possibly even new features for dog owners.
A presentation from Port Urbanism, which DNAinfo has made available for download, also suggests that small commercial spaces and an emphasis on small business is an important aspect in improving the North Center Town Square. Some of the ideas floated include the creation of micro-spaces for retail vendors and having areas for food trucks. The firm also highlights the need for improved lighting in the plaza in order to increase activity in the evening hours. Several images in the presentation depict unique and creative ways to add lighting as an attraction.
While Alderman Pawar’s $500,000 stake is enough to get the project started, previous estimates suggest that total cost for the plaza’s overhaul could be somewhere north of $1.5 million, DNAinfo reports. Port Urbanism tells DNAinfo that if needed, additional rounds of public and private fundraising phases could be included in the master plan.