The Chicago City Council has approved the rezoning parts of W Fulton Street and W Randolph Street in the West Loop. In the latest council meeting the body approved turning select stretches of both streets into pedestrian streets, however this does not imply that they will be closed to vehicular traffic. The designation which is applied to a variety of streets in the city, including 18th Street in Pilsen, redefines what projects that will abutt the streets will need to provide moving forward.
The approval comes after a multi-year $20.3 million project that began in 2015 with the installation of the Fulton Market sign at the intersection with N Halsted Street. The work which concluded in July 2021 included new widened stone and concrete sidewalks, new custom street furniture including benches and bike racks, new drainage, formalized angled parking and more. This work stretched from N Halsted Street all the way to N Ogden Avenue to the west and is designed to preserve the area’s historic character.
The same stretch of street is now designated as a pedestrian street, the boundaries are from N Halsted Street to N Ogden Avenue on W Fulton Street and from N Halsted Street to N Ada Street along W Randolph Street. The designation now means that any projects or developments that abut the streets will have to meet a certain set of criteria as followed per city code:
- The entire building facade that faces the street must abut the sidewalk or be located within five feet of the sidewalk.
- At least 60 percent of the street facing facade between four to ten feet in height must be comprised of clear, non-reflective, glass to allow the visibility of commerce inside.
- On lots abutting the street, buildings must have a primary entrance door facing the street, corner entrances are also allowed, this includes entrances to shops, lobbies, or other business.
- The following are prohibited on lots abutting the street; drive-through facilities, vehicle sales or services that involve outdoor storage, gas stations, car washes, storage warehouses, and strip mall centers.
- No new curb cuts will be allowed, all vehicular entrances must be from an alley as well as any enclosed parking must not be visible from the designated street.
The restrictions are now viable for all projects moving forward although lots along both roads are limited but may come into play for any adaptive reuses in the future. The change also comes after a highly successful closed pedestrian street period for sections of W Fulton Street which saw a 25 percent increase in traffic due to it, while similar streets across the nation saw similar and up to 68 percent increases as well.