Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crustiest Station No More!
Wilson El To Get $135 Million Overhaul

Finally!  This is the best news of the year....

A press release from Ald. Cappleman's office:

Alderman James Cappleman Applauds $135 Million To Rebuild The Wilson L Station

November 3, 2011 (CHICAGO) – 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman stood this morning with Governor Quinn, Mayor Emanuel, and CTA President Claypool to announce $135 Million in funding to rebuild the Wilson L Red Line station.  The funding is from a larger allocation from The Illinois Jobs Now! capital program investment which will be combined with other state, local and federal funds for an overall commitment of $1 billion to create more than 2,700 jobs by overhauling a critical piece of the region’s transit system that accounts for nearly 40 percent of ridership on the CTA’s rail network.

“Since I was elected Alderman, my number one priority has been to rebuild the Wilson L,” Cappleman said this morning. “It is the hub of the Uptown neighborhood. It’s the gateway to what will be the revitalized Entertainment District. With this redevelopment, the new Wilson L will spark economic growth and make our community safer for everyone.”

This will be the largest transit project that the CTA has ever undertaken. Ground breaking will begin in 2012 with the project slated for completion in 2014. The actual design of the new Wilson L is still in the development process and will include community input.

“For 20 years, the 46th Ward has been promised time and time again that the money was coming. We waited and waited,” Cappleman said. “I’m honored and thrilled to be able to say to you that this day has finally come.”


UU Note:  After his Town Hall meeting in August, Ald. Cappleman said this about the Wilson Station"There’s one proposal on the table that seeks to remodel all the retail space belonging to the CTA (east side of the 4600 block of N. Broadway). I’m working with Uptown United, Terra Firma, CTA, outside private funding, state and federal dollars, and TIF funds. It’s a huge project that will make the Wilson L stop a destination spot for miles around. It’s going to be a rather complex project because it also involves creative ways to make the Wilson L stop more ADA compliant. The Mayor knows that this development has my highest priority and I will be meeting with his staff next week to discuss how to get this moving along sooner rather than later."  We couldn't be happier that the time has come.

Update:  From the Tribune -- "Two CTA stations -- the Clark/Division stop and the Wilson stop -- will be completely rebuilt during the work, Claypool said. He would not commit to whether those stations will need to be closed for construction, but said it is a possibility. Several other stations will also receive more modest improvements."


  1. now that is real money, way to go Cap.

  2. I am dancing around in my underwear I am so happy....

  3. Is there anything for the Lawrence Stop?

    What exactly might happen with all that space?

    Is it open to restuarants, bars, clubs, theaters stage or movie?

  4. Also.....what makes a L stop attractive to people in terms of drawing them into the area ...other than just getting off at a stop.

    I mean ...does an attractive L station, in itself bring people into the area?....I don't think so....but the property and how it's used around it would....How much property is actually involved?

  5. This is such great news. I am glad to see such a positive improvement to a great neighborhood...

    Thank you, James for all of your hard work on this, and thank you for including the community for input on the project. This is true collaboration.

  6. I second that! Some serious leaps and bounds with this one. Again, I'll see it when I believe it regarding the construction, but there's more progress in the past year than...well, ever.

  7. As someone who's disabled and can't take the L from any of Uptown's stations, I am so very happy to hear that the Wilson station will be ADA compliant.

    Great news all around! Huzzah!

  8. I set my stop watch to see how long it takes for boo birds to find something about this they will criticize.

    Great work Mr. Cappleman. It won't solve all of our issues by any stretch, but it certainly is a big step in the right direction.

  9. Huge step in the right direction for Uptown! Well done James, thank you for your hard work!

  10. Holy crap!

    $135M is considerably more than the totals we'd been hearing ($3M/$9M) - and it's difficult to know exactly how this all came about (ie - is there any continuity from previous office holders, or is this all fresh stuff?); but, end of the day result: who cares?

    (though - if Helen played any sort of positive role in this, she deserves props, too .. credit where it's due, etc).

    That said, this news is beyond "fantastic" and will be a benefit to everyone in the area - regardless of how you slice it.

    The only "boo bird" mantle I might wear is in the planning. When they say "rebuilding" - do the plans call for razing the entire station?

    I would hope not; but, even if they do, I doubt I'll moan too loudly.

    In a broader context, this is the exact kind of infrastructure investment that this area, and the nation, has been needing for some time (as compared to simply laying down a slab of new asphalt).

    It's not often I commend politicians around here, but they don't often do something steeped in such common sense.

    ... of course, once the excitement dies down, the impatience will kick in ;)

  11. WOW this is mega awesome news! I'm curious if this project will extend to the Leland/Clifton/Broadway section of tracks. Would be weird if they rehab that station but let that section continue to resemble the bog of eternal sadness. Looking forward to seeing some plans for this project. YAY!

    Now hopefully Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey will get my letters about sponsoring a rehab of the Uptown Theatre so Radiohead can play the grand opening :)

  12. AWESOME!!!

    This is a game changer for the core business district of Uptown, an investment by the city that will pay dividends!

    I believe da Mayor Rahm is serious about making Uptown a world-class Music District as it once was so long ago. And I know Ald. James is.

    It will take more then music venues, live music is an evening thing, we need to integrate other arts and artists...diversify and make it interesting for the residents in the daylight hours..

    Otherwise we will just become a venue cluster/cash cow for the city coffers. The city needs the money and Uptown can help for sure. We can do that AND better.

    Maybe we should call it the Uptown Music and Cultural District?

    Or take after New Orleans....Uptown Music and Heritage District.

    This is good news!

  13. Yesterday, in another post related to crime, I had said "I hope we start seeing some results from James by Spring." Well, what a great post re: the Wilson stop!

    Congrats to James and his entire team....these are the kind of results that will make Uptown the next great Ward!

    whoo hoo! construction can't start soon enough!

  14. That is incredible news indeed. Even better would be plans to shift the station so that one entrance would be at Montrose. That makes so much more sense than Wilson given the spacing of spots between Sheridan and Lawrence. But hey, if it has to remain at Wilson that is still just absolutely amazing news and potentially an enormous boost to the neighborhood.

  15. @yo - "(though - if Helen played any sort of positive role in this, she deserves props, too .. credit where it's due, etc)."

    You're exactly right...if "she" did have anything to do with it....then semi-props to her. As I will NEVER give her full credit for anything. Once a slag, always a slag. Just sayin'

  16. eagerly anticipating the first renders of the design, will it look anything like the fantasy concept we've seen in the past?

  17. Am I the only one who thinks this is kinda wasteful to do before deciding what will be done for the Red/Purple rehab? Especially since a subway was one of the proposals?

  18. This calls for the obligatory pop movie culture reference from me, The IrishPirate.

    I choose this classic scene from the underrated Spielberg classic "1941".

    Go 2:20 into the video to hear the pertinent part.

    "That's it. Let me hear your guns.

    "My guns?"

    "I want to hear what they sound like. Let me hear em. yang yang yang yang yng yang yang yang yang yang..."

    Guns fire.



    "Vay con dios my friend, to Hollywood and glory!"

    He's Wild James Cappleman and don't you forget it!

  19. eMath,

    from my understanding, the Wilson rehab is part of a larger Red Line project.

    But, since you'd mentioned the Purple line, I wouldn't mind so much having the existing platform, which the Purple line passes, at Wilson be rehabbed and added back into the system.

    At the very least, it might help alleviate some of the congestion at Belmont/Fullerton.

  20. More great news for the neighborhood!

  21. Wow! ...and project completion by 2014...about time!! Too bad we couldn't have got this done around the time the now 18 month old Target store opened...better late than never!!

    ‎...also, like Alice, I try to believe 3 impossible things before breakfast...go on...

  22. Ain't gonna be no subway. Too way expensive.

    The proper way to do this is to run the platform from Wilson south to Montrose. Actually making the main entrance at Montrose makes more sense. Like way........

    Perhaps a smaller auxiliary entrance approximately where the Aldi parking lot is would make sense. That could serve Truman, Aldi, and Target.

    I suspect Target might kick in some cash to see an entrance closer to their front entrance.

    This is truly good news. Which brings me to the Tao of "Caddyshack".

  23. You are one strange bird IP.

    I hope this doesn't have a negative effect on Rokitos! That place rocks.

  24. Question answered by the Sun Times:

    CTA President Forrest Claypool said most of the improvements to Red Line stations can be done without closings. The exceptions are Wilson and Clark/Division, which will be totally rebuilt.

  25. Excellent news. I hope other Red Line stations get a facelift in the very near future too. If you stop and visit the Argyle station, the very first things you'll see of the station, as you walk West towards it, are the concrete columns on the street that support the platform/station. They look either bomb-ravaged or gnawed at by giant robot rats. If Argyle station is a residential building, it would have long been condemned as unfit for humans.

  26. I'll be the boo bird! Will they at least get the Lawrence bridge done on LSD before they tear up the Wilson El stop? Or do they plan do do both projects at the same time.

  27. Butternut... AMEN... that intersection at Leland and Broadway is a HORRIBLE gateway into Uptown...

  28. This is amazing new! The best news we've heard for this neighborhood in ages!

    Thanks James!

  29. Awesome news! I hope the new stop comes equipped with "hood rat" spray to keep the pests from tagging it, pissing on or near it, dropping chicken bones or flammin' hot cheetos bags around it, shooting around it, loitering, and panhandling around it.

    Oh, and James is awesome; can pull off HUGE projects like this his first year in office while what did the Shillcritter do in 20+ years?

  30. Sweet Georgia Brown, I'm stunned and thrilled!!!
    The 'Post-Helen Era' has another shiny bright spot!

  31. This has got to be the happiest Uptownupdate post.

    Can't wait to so the scheme and scope of the project...$135 million....WOW!

    I hope the purple Line stops here again, that is definitely enough money to set it up. To build out a 1st class bicycle lock-up increase ridership some bells and whistles.

    Someone above mentioned Rokitos and that is the only possible negative. The food is awesome, nut the owner put his heart and his art in that place.

    I hope Rokitios stays on. If you agree we can all vote with our appetites to keep Rokitos in Uptown!

  32. Re: moving the station entrance south to Montrose.

    If this is going to be touted as a major step forward in revitalizing the Uptown Entertainment District (and i think it is), it makes more sense to leave it where it is further north, closer to the attractions and just close down Lawrence.

  33. How will the closing/renovation affect Red Liners who will be boarding the Red Line next year to see the newly renovated Cubs' games? Will we be able to board at Wilson and disembark at Addison in time for the first pitch?

  34. J'm excited about this.

    But when it comes to moving the entrance to Montrose, I can see no advantage except for the people who live closer to Montrose. Sure, I agree Sheridan/Wilson/Lawrence are unevenly spaced distance wise, but they are spaced appropriately for business.

    Remember, there's a big cemetery there, and the surrounding areas is residential. There is no potential for business growth at that intersection and it will actually detract from business to have a stop there. Wilson shops would be worse off than they currently are.

    A ramp from Target/Aldi would be nice. But is it doable? Safe? Wouldn't it be more desirable for people to walk past other stores they may patronize on their way to and from the station? Shop and dash doesn't do much for our walkability and street safety.

    At Fullerton there is a Dominick's right by the stop, but you can't get directly in to the station from it.

    Just saying, outside of personal convenience, there is little to no benefit in moving the station to Montrose.

  35. D,

    you ignorant slut.

    There are plenty of good reasons to move the EL station to Montrose.

    First, it would allow the Montrose bus route to run down Montrose instead of having to curve around to Wilson and back.

    Second, the largest plot of undeveloped land in this neighborhood is the Maryville site. Having an EL stop at Montrose would help develop that.

    Third, you could keep the current Wilson station house and rebuild the ground floor retail and not have to worry about incorporating platforms into the work.

    Fourth, doing it this way basically makes it all new construction so we'd end up with something resembling what has been done at Fullerton or Montrose on the Brown Line and not some 1/4 ass renovation. 100 million plus is too much for a 1/2 ass renovation, but not enough to insure a great job.

    Now let's sit back and see what the city/cta has planned.

    Sadly, they likely won't do it exactly as I want, but these things happen. People in power seldom listen to me.

    I told my good drinking buddy M. Gaddafi to leave Libya and take his billions and buxom Slavic nurses and head to some coastal African country. Did he listen? I think we know the answer.

    Whatever is built at Montrose or sadly Wilson will be a great improvement for the neighborhood.

  36. Not only is IP generally right about the advantages of moving the entrance, but you could have a secondary entrance on the N end of the platform and the main one towards Montrose. Remember that Wilson Yard is largely elderly housing, and the 1 stop south and 5 stops north of Wilson have NO ADA access. In addition, if you need to remove a station to streamline the area, it may make more sense to move the Lawrence stop to the N side of lawrence and have a secondary entrace at Ainsle on the N of the platform and close the Argyle station (effectively moving the Argyle stop 1 block S but removing one stop from the train schedule). That would also serve to keep the exit pouring people into the proposed Lawrence Entertainment District.

  37. Dude, first of all. There's no need for that.

    Secondly. not one of your points holds water. I don't even understand your 4th comment.

    The buses don't run down Montrose because of the cemetery. Has nothing to do with the L stop.

    "You could keep the Wilson station.."? I'm not doing any of this and no one is advocating getting rid of the station house.

    I would love to believe that, once the train station was gone people would shop on Wilson. But we both know that is unlikely. Though necessary.

    The train, even on Montrose would be too far from the Maryville development (which isn't seeming to even be happening) to have an impact. Especially due to the lack of connecting retail down Montrose due to the cemetery, the jewel parking lot, the wholesale place, residential buildings and that crazy 6 way intersection.

    Basically Wilson has infastructure and foot traffic, where Montrose is simply not set up to. And the effort and cost to do so is unfathomable.

    Hey, man. I like dreams. Dream away. Personally, a Montrose stop would be more convenient. But it's not about me. And I wouldn't want to miss out on the potential a revised WIlson stop could be with pie in the sky distractions that are just frankly not plausable. City planning and business development is complex.

  38. D,

    The talking guy from Penn and Teller has something to say to you.

    See I can be nice.

    The Maryville property is 3 blocks from the IrishPirate Montrose Red Line stop.

    The buses don't run down Montrose because of the cemetery? Really. Are the buses scared of the cemetery?

    The buses run to Wilson to link up with the Red Line stop. Your seeming fascination with the cemetery is perplexing to those of us who have IQ's above room temperature.

    By the way you seem to suggest that the cemetery would impede on IrishPirate Maryville Tower residents reaching my new IrishPirate Montrose EL stop. Dumb. Check out a map.

    The "wholesale" place you speak of is a piece of property ripe for development when the new IrishPirate Montrose EL stop opens. I foresee IrishPirate Dearborn Wholesale Tower there in the near term IrishPirate future.

    Don't attempt to lecture me on city planning and business development. I got pieces of city planners and business consultants in my stool.

    I offer you a prayer I created almost four years ago after someone suggested that I was wrong about the city losing population. As those of us who can read saw the census once again proved that I was right.

    This prayer also works for you:

    Lord, Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us.

    Save Us From Those With Teeny Minds.

    Save Us From Those Who Claim To Love The City

    Yet Hate Density.

    Lord, Banish Them to A Place Where Only

    Rollerbladers exist and the nearest train is

    a ten minute drive.

    Smite them Oh Lord and Show Them Your Big Old

    Testament Fangs and Forgot The Whole “Golden

    Rule” thang your son mistakenly talked about.

    Save Us Oh Lord and With Your Intercession We

    Shall Become a Better City.

    Praise Be to God and May the Almighty Save The City of Chicago from those with little minds.




  39. I think that IP has it just about right...but I'd like to add that those who like to paint themselves to be "certain" about things like cemeteries and bus routes better make sure that they know what they're talking about BEFORE they make themselves look foolish (and worse).

    The 78 Montrose bus used to run right along the cemetery (in fact, used to stop at the foot of my very street). CTA decreed that it must stop at the Wilson Red Line station, and also decided that the crazy turns it used to make at Montrose/Broadway and Broadway/Wilson were impossible because of the it was re-routed up Clark instead of Broadway. I'd like our bus back. And more people south of Montrose and east of Broadway would take the Red Line instead of buses or driving themselves IF a Red Line stop was easier to get to than Wilson or Sheridan.

    I applaud the work James has done to get this project off the ground...but I'm also going to strongly suggest that people stop hobbling themselves with what they THINK are "constraints" right now--be they cemeteries, college campuses, or gangs--and *start* thinking about what this newly-reconstructed station can and should be and do, both now and into the future. We only have one chance to get this right, and it will not be easy to get things changed once the concrete is poured. We already have enough things poured in concrete in Uptown that we have to work around instead of working with, so let's not add more hurdles for the future.

  40. I hope they make a second entrance on Montrose Ave.

  41. I wonder if this is actually still happening, its been almost 2 years with zero progress...