Workshop organizers will have to convince CTA and landowners to adopt proposals for Red Line improvements

We have a couple more details for you about the public workshops seeking ideas to revitalize the Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Thorndale and Granville Red Line el stops in the Edgewater neighborhood.

The meetings, which kick off on March 5 and are convened by the Edgewater Development Corporation and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s City Design Center, will look at ways to improve the “lobby” of each station, (the area outside the turnstiles), but not the platform, says the City Design Center’s co-director, Brent Ryan.

Ryan adds that he wants suggestions from residents about how to improve the quality of retail in the CTA-owned commercial spaces on the ground floor of each station.

The workshop organizers have also identified key privately-owned parcels of land close to the railway stations that they feel are underutilized.

“In many areas that retail doesn’t have the character and quality that residents would like,” Ryan says. “It’s auto-oriented retail designed for a suburban street mall. Edgewater is a mix of incomes but a high-density, transit-dependent neighborhood,” he says. “A lot of people are using the stations, so there is potential for retail.”

The agencies organizing the public meetings will release recommendations in June.

But how much sway will the group’s recommendations have with the CTA and private property owners?

Ryan says the CTA has promised to attend the public meetings, but hasn’t committed to taking action on any recommendations that arise. Despite media reports that the CTA is short on dough, Ryan is optimistic that, “the squeakiest hinge will get the oil.”

Commerical developers are more likely to develop retail near the el stations if they see that residents support the concept and have clear ideas of what they want to see in the neighborhood, according to Ryan.

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