Harper Court Sale home. Harper Court RFP. Development home. 53rd St.
Text from the Vision 53 Report, May revision
See original version
53 rd Street Vision
Workshop I Report
(UPDATED May 2008)
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Canter Middle School
53 rd Street Vision Workshop
Close to 2000 Hyde Park and South Side residents packed the gymnasium of Canter
Middle School on December 8, 2007 for a half-day workshop to discuss future
development of 53rd Street, the community’s primary commercial business corridor and
the development of a vibrant shopping hub for the mid-south side of Chicago.
The 53rd Vision Workshop was sponsored by 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, City
of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency
for Planning (CMAP). and a coalition of local institutional and community organizations
including, the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park
Chamber of Commerce, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Interfaith Open
Communities, and the South East Chicago Commission (SECC).
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) provided technical assistance
and worked with a local committee to plan the workshop. In addition, CMAP facilitated
the workshop and introduced the community to the use of electronic hand held key pad
devices that allowed participants to see the group’s responses in “real time”.
The objectives of the workshop were to:
1. Seek input from the community to help guide future development on 53rd Street.
2. Develop a set of priorities to share with the 53rd Street TIF Council, local elected
officials and the Department of Planning & Development to utilize as they
develop the RFP for Harper Court, make decisions regarding use of TIF resources
and consider development proposals for the TIF district.
3. Understand the types of places and activities the community wants in the 53rd
Street business district.
This document summarizes the responses that individuals noted on worksheets. Please
note that not everyone completed every worksheet or answered every question.
The information gleaned from the worksheets is discussed in this document.
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The actual responses
collected at the event are
day's polling revealed
several themes for the
future of 53rd Street. But
there was a universal
• A much greater
range of retail
• More restaurants
and entertainment venues, including a first run movie theatre, cultural venues
• Infill development with retail on the ground floor and office or residential above
• A visually clean, welcoming and attractive environment
Organizers held the workshop in the Canter School cafeteria. The room had 15 tables set
for groups of 10. Every participant received a table assignment and an electronic key
pad. Each table had a facilitator. Organizers recruited facilitators in advance. CMAP
provided an hour of training to facilitators prior to the workshop.
After an overview of the day, participants completed a ‘warm up’ exercise called,
“Who’s in the room?” utilizing the key pad devices to find out the demographics of the
Each group then completed a table exercise where individuals answered questions
about “where they live, work, shop and play.” what they value about Hyde Park, and
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 4
why do they leave Hyde Park. The responses to these questions are summarized later in
this document. The facilitator then asked a few groups to share responses.
Mr. Sam Assefa, Deputy Commissioner for the City of Chicago, Department of Planning
and Development gave a presentation called, The Benefits of Density. This presentation
is available at www.vision53.org.
Then everyone in each group answered the following questions on worksheets:
· What should the street look like?
· What should go in the buildings?
· What should the buildings look like?
· What activities will people engage in?
Facilitators lead brief discussions of each question and noted responses to each
question on a flip chart. Then each group utilized colored dots to vote for their top
choices. This was repeated for each question. When all the groups completed the
exercise, CMAP staff then reviewed the top choices from each group, summarized and
reduced the responses to each question to a list of ten choices. Then the entire group
used the keypad devices to identify their first choice from the listed options. This
exercise was repeated, to identify people’s second choice by eliminating the ‘winner’ as
an option in the next vote. The results were visible to the group instantaneously.
What do you value about Hyde Park?
Respondents consistently indicated that the aspects of Hyde Park they valued most
· Diversity of the community –Remarks centered on the diversity of people in the
· Strong sense of community – Typical comments included: “the neighborhood
feeling”, active neighborhood, family friendly, stable, urban neighborhood with a
small town feel, and “nice people who don’t move”. “It is a real community
where people know each other.”
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 5
61% of workshop attendees have lived or
worked in Hyde Park over 10 years,
including 43% who had lived or worked
in Hyde Park for over 20 years! These
high rates of tenure in the neighborhood
contribute to the sense of community
that people value. These numbers
indicate the stability of the
neighborhood and suggest a level of
satisfaction with living in Hyde Park.
These were typically followed by
mentions of many of the community’s
· Parks and lakefronts
· Cultural and educational institutions (U of C, MSI, etc)
Participants also noted a smattering of additional attributes like: location,
transportation and convenience, walkability, quality of architecture and housing, and
mix of commercial and retail services.
Pedestrian-friendly - Over 60% of workshop attendees indicated during the “live”
polling that they do not use their car to get around the neighborhood and consistently
expressed a desire for a pedestrian and bike friendly community.
What can’t you do in Hyde Park?
· Shop - There was no question here. Over 40% of respondents mentioned
shopping of one type of another, with “apparel” shopping specifically mentioned
the most frequently as the activity one could not do in Hyde Park.
· Eat, drink and be merry or entertainment: Entertainment is defined broadly
here and includes: going to the movies, dining out, having a beer, and additional
recreational activities. The lack of a first run movie theatre was mentioned the
most as the form of entertainment unavailable in Hyde Park. There were also
requests for a greater variety of restaurants, including what some people
referred to as “date” restaurants.
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 6
What should 53 rd Street look like?
Participants’ individual answers to this question clustered into the following categories:
· Green! – A desire for tree-lined streets and abundant landscaping – as much of
the year as possible. There were some specific mentions regarding Nichols Park,
including suggestions regarding improved accessibility from 53rd Street and
providing seating areas closer to the street. Neighborhood parks, open space
and the Lakefront are highly valued assets to participants.
· Busy and active, with lots of choices! – People expressed a desire for a vibrant
street life, lots of different activities, outdoor cafes, community gathering
spaces, mixed use buildings, “more buildings, less vacant lots”, more shops,
more restaurants, more housing, space for offices and business services,
diversity, shops with a broad appeal. Participants indicated a longing to have
options to choose from.
· Attractive and inviting! – Attendees expressed the importance of physical
improvements and elements designed to create an attractive and inviting
environment. Comments pertained to the public elements like the streets,
sidewalks and lighting, and also to the storefronts, window displays, building
maintenance and quality of architecture.
People identified amenities to support and encourage a “pedestrian” friendly
environment like wide sidewalks, brick pavers, lighting, and outdoor cafes.
expressed a desire for
displays and well
· Convenient and easy to
get around – Workshop
participants noted the
Importance of improving
circulation patterns and
for the need for adequate
preferably above, below or
Comments also mentioned
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 7
needs for directional signage and wayfinding and increased sensitivity to the
accessibility needs of the community, particularly as it ages. There were
suggestions for trolleys, elimination of traffic on 53 rd St., and opening of Harper
What should go in the buildings?
Participants emphasized their desire for mixed-use development; retail on the ground
floor with office or residential above, throughout the business district. Specifically
people mentioned an interest in more restaurants including suggestions for more
outdoor cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, ice cream and sushi.
Participants provided numerous comments about the overall business mix. Some
people simply stated the desire for more shops and a greater diversity of shops, while
others gave specifics regarding the type of merchandise they wanted. First and
foremost in terms of specific retail desired is apparel and shoes (including resale and
discount). As mentioned earlier, apparel shopping was also cited specifically as
something participants can not do in Hyde Park. Attendees expressed preference for
locally owned and independently owned businesses.
Participants stated an interest
in more entertainment
options including suggestions
for comedy and dance clubs,
movie theatres and live
theatre and a other cultural
venues and options to foster
more activity throughout the
day and night.
Attendees also noted that
they valued the convenience
of having doctors, dentists,
lawyers, etc located in the
community’s prime shopping
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 8
What should the buildings look like?
People stressed that buildings should be of good quality, design and well maintained,
and had a strong desire for all buildings to be compatible with the neighborhood
character and scale. In this context people specifically mentioned the use of brick and
limestone, and a mix of styles, both old and new, was important. Specifically 44% ranked
“a mixture of historical and well designed modern buildings” as a priority.
Building heights – The individual written comments and workshop discussions reflected
a wide range of views on this topic, with some preferring low-rises, other mid, and some
Later in the workshop, meeting facilitators provided definitions for low-rise (1-3 stories)
and mid-rise (3-12 stories) and then asked participants to indicate via the electronic
keypad devices whether they would accept a mid-rise building somewhere in the 53rd
St. TIF district. Approximately 63% said yes, 26% said no and 11% said unsure.
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 9
What activities will people engage in?
A range of activities that participants would expect to see on 53rd Street were shopping,
dining, socializing, living, working, playing, walking etc. In other words, people would
like 53rd Street to become a lifestyle destination that served as the community’s
‘downtown’ and offered an array of activities and choices for people.
Comments and Feedback
Participants were given an opportunity to provide feedback and comments for the
organizers. There were a total of 70 comment/ feedback sheets:
Most included comments like the ones below:
“Had a wonderful time sharing ideas”
“Great work getting people to event”
“Great working with neighbors”
“Enjoyable, energizing event”
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 10
voice” within an
“Uplifting vision of
“Felt I contributed
to the meeting by
voting (first time)”
There were six critical
comments that generally
pertained to last question,
lack of transparency and a
perception that there was a
Suggestions- There were
additional comments that
were reflected further
thoughts on a range of
topics and attitudes:
· Progress: People wanted to know what are next steps? People want to see
something happen. Some voiced concerns regarding the potential for
piecemeal development. Others expressed interest in seeing an overall
development plan. Audience demographics – People noted and recognized
the need for more African Americans and young people to accurately reflect
the demographics of the community. For example:
“Hyde Park-Kenwood is part of the South Side; whose demographics are
rather different from people attending the meeting. Even if the neighborhood
becomes whiter or richer we should not strive to increase our island status.
We need to consider the greater south side as well as our own few blocks. I
want to see 53 rd St as welcoming to all people.”
· Issues that were not discussed sufficiently: transportation, parking,
environment and economic viability of proposals. Some requested a more in depth
look at density specifically in terms of Hyde Park.
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 11
· Concerns about the viability of small independent businesses
· Promote change!
Specific Comments about the event agenda and logistics included:
· Well planned
· Great exercise
· Great facilitators
· Groups lost focus
· Noisy environment. Hard to hear.
· Tables and benches uncomfortable
· Great food (all food was from Pizza
· Mixed reactions to slide show –
some really liked, some didn’t
· Voting methodology – some
duplicates within lists
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 12
Appendix: Remaining Keypad Polling Charts
Age of Participants
Race/Ethnicity of Participants
Gender of Participants
Connection to Hyde Park
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 13
Appendix: Remaining Keypad Polling Charts
What zip code do you live in?
How do you get around Hyde Park?
Do you live in a…?
How do you get to work?
How did you get to the workshop?
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 14
Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward
South East Chicago Commission (SECC)
City of Chicago Department of Planning
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for
53rd St. TIF Advisory Council
Canter Middle School
Hyde Park Academy
Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
Hyde Park–Kenwood Community Conference
Interfaith Open Communities
University of Chicago
Jay N. Ammerman
G. Jean Howard
Barbara J. Ivery
53 rd Street Vision Workshop 15
Judy Minor Jackson
Patricia (Trish) Morse
Shirley J. Newsome
Helen E. Norwood
Deborah M. Pratt
Ald. Toni Preckwinkle
Ilene Jo Reizner
Brian D. Shaw
Deborah M. Taylor
Debbie S. Wang
Lynn Toi Lawson