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City Seeks To Turn Streets, Sidewalks, Alleys Into ‘Fun Spots’ For People

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago wants to turn streets, sidewalks , alleys and other places into “fun spots.”

As CBS 2’s David Morrison reports, the city envisions turning the spaces, also including parking lanes. The “fun spots” would be used as public gathering spaces for music, farmers’ markets and other seasonal activities.

The idea is to promote economic development and community relations.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports there are four separate ideas “fun spot” ideas the city has in mind.

The first, “people spots,” would be temporary decks about 50 feet long and seven feet wide that would replace parking spaces with public seating during the spring, summer and early fall, the Sun-Times reported. City officials tell the Sun-Times the idea is similar to a sidewalk café for al fresco dining, but open to the public.

“People spots” are planned for Lincoln Avenue between the intersections with Southport and Wellington avenues and with Lakewood Avenue and George Street – in cooperation with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce; Clark Street at Farragut Avenue in conjunction with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce; and 47th Street at Greenwood and Champlain avenues, in conjunction with the Quad Communities Development Corporation, the Sun-Times reported.

The second model, “people streets,” are streets that would be closed off for pedestrian use. They would be created from wide streets that could be narrowed, dead-end streets that are unnecessary, or streets that neighbors would like to cut off, the newspaper reported.

A “people street” was already set up on Kenmore Avenue just south of Fullerton Avenue at DePaul University, which the university hopes to close altogether, the Sun-Times reported.

The third idea, “people plazas,” are existing outdoor plazas and malls that could be “activated” into spaces for farmers markets and other public sales, the Sun-Times reported. One existing example is Giddings Plaza in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, which features live music programs funded by a local taxing district, the newspaper reported.

The fourth model, “people alleys,” calls for transforming alleys into public plazas with tables and chairs for live music or art shows, during the evening hours when the alleys are not needed for garbage collection and deliveries, the Sun-Times reported.

Community groups and private companies have been creating similar “fun spots” on their own for years. For example, last September, the Moss Design Group turned several parking spaces on Southport Avenue near Cornelia Avenue into a makeshift “park,” for an event called PARK(ing) Day.

“We pay the parking meter for the day, and roll out a park,” Moss Design principal architect Matt Nardella said last September. The group set up plants in the park, and featured live music and bike repair.

And in one of the world’s most high-profile “people streets,” New York City shut down Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets in Times Square, and between 33rd and 35th streets in Herald Square, and turned them into pedestrian plazas.

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