Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'Asia On Argyle' Report

You may remember a meeting held back in January discussing the Urban Land Institute's study of Argyle street and how it could be improved. The full report is now available and you can download the .pdf here. You can read some background info on the ULI and Metropolitan Planning Council's study here.


  1. A good report, now if we can get people to use it...

    I really liked the suggestion of the Asian/Dragon themed lights, kind of like the nice one's with the rainbow on them on Halsted but obviously more Asian inspired. An Argyle station redesign into a distinct Asian-looking station would be great, but I'd rather see the Wilson station fixed up before that happened.

  2. I'm no expert but feel free to disagree.

    parking: valet, bigger lot, not just depend on meters.

    sidewalks:plant more flowers, and trees,scrub gunks (gum)off the floor, do not tolerate loitering under the L.

    cleanliness: start inside the businesses? most of them look unappealing and rundown, cleaning the business window, and repainting signs.

    security: get a police booth or information kiosk type, instead of police parking in the curb and sitting in their car.

    L Station: get rid of urine smell, "Argyle" L sign does not stand out, cannot tell what the "little saigon" is all about..?

    Last but not least, business owners should not just sell sell sell,instead be active in promoting festivities, and not just a once a year event "chinese new year.

  3. I think some of the short or mid-term suggestions are fairly easy to implement. But, what are your thoughts on the more intensive ideas, such as the night market? Obviously the devil is in the details, and how it is organized and run will determine a lot, but I got the impression that the business/civic leaders were engaged and ready to take charge. It's always discouraging to see the first (sometimes only) comment lament the lack of parking. There are creative solutions to that surely.

  4. I think a night market would be fantastic! However, I think it would be important to address current safety concerns first. I'm not sure how to go about that, but I'm just having a hard imagining people coming into Uptown at night to walk down a street to shop. I think our current safety situation is going to hamper that idea a bit.

  5. In general I agree with the report.

    But the complaints about parking are overblown. I understand that a lot of out-of-towners (surburbanites and non-illinoisans alike) enjoy visiting Argyle. But I think it is a serious mistake to fracture the neighborhood, create eye-sores, make walking on sidewalks less safe, all to cater to the car-addictions of those who don't even live in the neighborhood.

    I understand there are compromises here, and that some parking issues need to be addressed. But in general, I think its entirely unreasonable to expect (as many car drivers (esp. suburban ones) do) that you should be able to pull up in a large SUV and park 2 meters from wherever you're going. The bit about buying in bulk at grocery stores is preposterous... Walking through massive parking lots (a quarter mile long in some cases) is not unheard of in suburbs. Perhaps these out-of-state bulk-buyers can get dollies if they have to park a couple of blocks away.

    I don't see NYC buldozing a bunch of buildings to enable sight-seers and tourists from out of state to 'enjoy' Chinatown in lower Manhattan from their SUVs any time soon.

    We need to consider the residents of the neighborhood first, and that means ensuring that the strip is extremely walkable and caters primarily to pedestrians, not massive SUVs driven in by tourists from Indiana (or Highland Park, as the case may be).

  6. jcrw:

    I've ridden the Redline every day for the last 8 months, and Argyle is my stop. I think you're comment about a 'urine smell' more or less makes clear that you aren't a regular at that stop. It is, on the whole, clean and well-lit.

    I do agree, however, that the 'argyle' L sign is difficult to see and doesn't stand out.

    But apropos of this thought, perhaps making it more clear and visible that Argyle is EXTREMELY well-served by CTA would be an alternative to simply acquiescing to the parking woes of Suburbanites and other tourists.

    In addition to having a 24-7 rail running through the heart of the district, there are busses running frequently on both Sheridan and Broadway, not to mention Lawrence and Foster.

    If anything, smart urban planning in this situation would mean making access to CTA more accessible, more inviting, and more clear to tourists (be they from Iowa or Glencoe). Parking lots are an easy-out, but they hardly seem like a well-though-out plan. How much longer will we foresake sustainability and pedestrian-friendliness for the short-sighted goal of placating those addicted to driving everywhere?

    I wonder if people in London, in Paris, or in Greenwich Village for that matter, complain as much about parking as many Chicagoans are inclined to do. Does any sane person drive a car into Manhattan, pull into SoHo and act baffled that there is nowhere to park? Would we want to say that the lack of parking in those places is a 'problem', or would we say instead that the whole mentality of expecting to easily park our cars everywhere is the problem?