East 39th Street Commercial Corridor Plan by Chris Devins


Street Commercial Corridor Plan is a comprehensive commercial real estate development plan that envisions the future of the East 39th Street Commercial
Corridor and the surrounding 2 mile trade area in Chicago, based on current demographic, real estate market, zoning, land use, political and commercial business data. For more visit Chris Devins Creative on the web. https;//chrisdevinscreative.com

East 39th Street Commercial Corridor Plan

Neighborhood Retail District Feasibility



Christopher Devins, Master’s Candidate


Rachel Weber, Professor

Department of Urban Planning and Policy

© 2011 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois




Project Description 4

Existing Conditions 5

East 39th Street Commercial Corridor 7

Neighborhood Assets 8

Primary Market Area 9

Spending Potential In Primary and Secondary Market Areas 10

Supply & Demand Analysis For Half Mile Trade Area 11

Restaurant Potential 13

Competition Within Primary Market Area 15

Development Activity 16

Big Box Retail 17

Existing Land Use 18

Access 22

Transportation & Traffic Counts 23

Chicago White Sox Facts 24

Physical Condition 25

Safety 26

SWOT Analysis 27

Vision Statement 29

Recommendations 30

Retail Development Opportunities 33

Billboard Identity Campaign 34

Implementation 35

Addenda 37




Located in the heart of Bronzeville, East

39th Street is an approximately 1 mile

long commercial corridor that runs from

Langley (600 East) on the East to Interstate

90/94 on the west (200 West).

Historically East 39th Street served as a

neighborhood shopping and restaurant

district for the residents of the 3500 unit

Ida B. Wells/Madden Park apartment

complex. As part of the Chicago Housing

Authority’s Plan of Transformation

the residents of Wells/Madden Park

were relocated and the complex was

torn down. The last units were demolished

in 2004, greatly reducing the

population density of the neighborhood.

This meant much less money was being

spent on the 39th Street corridor and

conditions began to deteriorate. One

by one local businesses, the economic

engines of the corridor, began to close.

Small businesses such as Sunrise Foods

and Grocery, The Blue Sea Drive-In,

Cee’s Gyros, Midway Barbershop, Dorothy’s

Barbershop and Atlanta Liquors,

facing declining revenues ceased operations.

Businesses strong enough to relocate

to other more lucrative areas did

so and a cycle of decline and disinvestment

began which lead to the corridor’s

current state.

East 39th Street has some apparent

strengths and there are positive changes

occurring that bode well for its future.

Some pluses on the corridor include

an Average Daily Traffic count at Illinois

Interstate 90/94 of 232,800 cars per day

and 119,700 per day on the east end

at Lake Shore Drive. While population

is expected to decline slightly by 2015,

in Douglas (2010 population 27,022) on

the north side of 39th, median income

rose from $26,720 in 2000 to $31,526 in

2010. This trend is expected to continue

through 2015. Grand Boulevard (population

26,651) to the south has a median

income of $25,249, up from $19,723 in

2000. These numbers are in inflation

adjusted 2009 dollars. Fifteen percent

of Douglas residents have a Master’s Degree

or higher, 17% a Bachelor’s degree.

The numbers from the half and 1 mile

trade areas are similar and improve as

the 3 mile trade area is approached. Access

to funds is another of the corridor’s

strengths. East 39th street is within

both TIF 61 and Enterprise Zone 2, each

of which can supply development and

incentive funds that can be used to

improve the corridor. 39th Street has

political assets, as well. In Pat Dowell

of the 3rd Ward and Will Burns of the

4th, the area has two highly competent,

dynamic aldermen to help lead future


The corridor faces many challenges,

also. A significant land use problem

along 39th Street is the high number of

vacant structures and lots. In addition,

at the center of the corridor, from King

Drive to Langley are small, narrow lots

that are zoned for higher quality uses

than their size allows. These small lot

sizes restrict the types and sizes of businesses

willing to locate on 39th street.

The corridor is locked in on both sides

by dull, uninformative highway exits and

blocks of empty lots as you approach

from both the east and the west, making

what few stores that are present

there difficult to find. Someone exiting

from the major arteries to both the east

and the west must drive two to three

blocks before coming upon the East Pershing

Commercial Corridor. In addition,

Interstate 90/94 forms a barrier that

effectively cuts East Pershing off from

neighborhoods to the west. Outside

threats to the corridor include 500,000

square feet of retail development in the

nearby Lake Meadows Shopping Mall

and the oversaturation of retail development

in the United States. Since 2000,

developers have built 1 billion square

feet of new retail 1 . Economically, 39th

1 “R & G Annual Market Summaries from REIN RETAIL

REPORT.” Rein & Grossoehme Commercial Real Estate)- Brokers-

Shopping Centers, Office & Industrial Buildings, Mini

Warehouse/Self Storage and Land Investments (for Sale);

Retail, Office, Industrial Commercial Space Leasing; Tenant

Representation. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. .



Street faces serious competition

from 35th street to the north and

from 43rd street, both within 39th

Street’s half mile trade area. This

left a question to be answered: with

viable commercial corridors on both

sides of East 39th, what role should it

play in Bronzeville’s overall economic


Out of this analysis came some recommendations:

1. Concentrate development efforts

on the six blocks between Federal

and King Drive. Development along

this stretch will thus be anchored

by the coming Metropolis Development

at State Street which includes

a 60,000 square ft. Roundy’s Grocery

Store and residential, and could draw

from the high ADT along 90/94. The

west end of the corridor is already

anchored by the new Dollar General

Store at 39th and Langley and retail/

service resurgence should occur

there as the 3200 units of Oakwood

Shores are completed. Completion

of the units will also solve the vacant

lot problem at that end.

2. Re-establish 39th as THE local

retail and services destination/neighborhood

center by encouraging development

of businesses that provide

the daily necessities of life such as a

dry cleaners, a barbershop, a nail salon,

a coffee shop, a local bookstore

and others. A sustainable urban

form offers people a wide range of

land uses and businesses within a

reasonable walking distance 2 .

Figure 1 East 39th Street Commercial Corridor Source: Google Maps

3. With a significant number of retail

options within its half-mile trade

area, 39th Street should mix in restaurants

to attract visits to the cor-

2 Farr, Douglas. Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with

Nature. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2008. Print.


idor. A MetroEdge retail scan 3 by of

the area shows that the most visited

establishments are by far the local

restaurants and fast food places.

4. Close and relocate the two liquor

stores on the corridor. This will

lessen noise, traffic, crime and congestion

in the cluster that is Vegas

and Rothschild’s liquor stores and

improve safety in the area.

5. Replace the two liquor stores with

one sports bar to attract White Sox

fans after games. Tapping into the

fan base spilling out of the Chicago

White US Cellular Field parking lot at

39th on the other side of 90/94 after

games will bring new spending to the


6. Enhance the corridor’s streetscape

and improve its look and feel using

TIF 61 and Enterprise Zone 2 funds.

There are other steps that can be

taken, as well. Plant more trees along

the road and plants and benches to

separate the sidewalk from the street

and make for a better pedestrian

3 http://www.metroedge.org/uploads/metroedge/documents/grand_boulevard.pdf


experience. Provide better marking

on the corridor’s available parking

spaces and employ gate¬way signage

on the corridor itself and on

the 90/94 and Lake Shore Drive exits

to lead people to the corridor and

increase corridor visits. Use infill

development to increase population

and stabilize the community.

Provide culture within which to

place the retail by creating an identity

billboard and shops campaign

and other mechanisms cultural to

reconnect residents and stakeholders

with Bronzeville’s historic past,

bolster identity and drive retail sales.

Encourage Transit-Oriented Development

around the 40th and Indiana

CTA Green line stop. Break the 90/94

barrier and lure people from West

Pershing Road over to the corridor

with amenities. Attract a “big box”

anchor retailer (with 90/94’s central

location and high ADT’s) to the

large, open tracts of land just east

of 90/94 on 39th ,some of which are

owned by the Illinois Department of

Transportation. Such new businesses

could be attracted to the corridor

given the high traffic counts along

Interstate 90/94. The idea is to create

a local neighborhood commercial

strip that also draws people in from

further out.



This plan’s purpose was to develop a commercial revitalization strategy for the East

39th Street commercial corridor in Chicago, IL. I collected data on the corridor then

analyzed the socio-economic trends likely to affect its future development. In a SWOT

analysis, I inventoried the corridors strengths and weaknesses, which are internal to

the corridor. I then looked at opportunities and threats, which are external. From

the relationship between internal strengths/weaknesses and external opportunities/

threats, I arrived at the corridor’s “competitive advantage”, its market position. Especially

important was East 39th Street’s position relative to other local commercial

activity centers. I analyzed the 2010 Bronzeville Alliance, Quad City Development Corporation,

Chicago Tax Increment Financing and Metropolitan Planning Council development

plans to make sure I was aware of their goals for the area. I then used this

information to make recommendations to guide 39th Street’s future development.

These recommendations will help Bronzeville’s leaders develop the corridor in a way

that takes advantage of its strengths and opportunities, mitigate its weaknesses and

threats and reassert its position as a neighborhood district serving the immediate area

but one that also draws White Sox Fans and commuters from Interstate 90/94.



Bronzeville is located on the mid-south

side of Chicago, Illinois and is generally

considered to be bounded by 22nd

Street on the north, 67th Street on the

south, Stewart Street on the west, and

Lake Michigan (north of 47th), Drexel

Blvd., (47th to 51st), and Cottage Grove

(51st to 67th) on the east.

Chicago’s version of the Harlem Renaissance

happened in Bronzeville.

Bronzeville was home to famous African-Americans

like Lorraine Hansberry,

Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright,

Louis Armstrong, Bessie Coleman, Ida

B Wells, Jack Johnson and others. From

the 1920s to the 1940s Bronzeville was

second only to Harlem as a center of

Black culture. Bronzeville had its problems,

as well. Black Chicagoans were

restricted by City Hall from renting and

buying property outside of the “Black

Belt”. In 1941 the Ida B Wells housing

project was built to provide housing

and a step up for low and middle income

families, many just starting out.

However, after years of operation Ida

B Wells/Madden Park began to suffer

like the city’s other housing projects

from deferred maintenance, the loss

of middle income renters to tenants on

government assistance and apartments

with too many bedrooms. The latter led

to an abnormally high child to adult ra-


Figure 2 Bronzeville, Chicago Source: Wikipedia

Bronzeville, Chicago



tio, resulting in high gang membership 4 .

Urban blight and crime followed, leading

to neighborhood deterioration.

Over ten years ago, in an effort to address

these problems Mayor Richard

Daley and the Chicago Housing Authority

set a goal to tear down Chicago’s

public housing projects and replace

them with a mix of for-sale homes and

subsidized and market-rate rentals. 3500

units in the Ida B Well/Madden Park

projects were torn down and development

of the 3200 unit Oakwood Shores

Development began in earnest in 2004.

Today the neighborhood’s historic significance

is driving new development

efforts. Night life is slowly improving,

and there are a number of coffee shops

and restaurants. The neighborhood’s

rich history is its primary asset. Notably,

revitalization efforts have not extended

west of the Dan Ryan Expressway or into

the Fuller Park and Washington Park

neighborhoods, which suffer from high

violent crime levels and vacant lots.

Figure 3 Brozeville, IL Source: Wikipedia

When the real estate market crashed in

2008 developers began slashing prices

in an effort to sell off their remaining

inventory. Some are being offered at

more than a third off their original price.

The price cuts have caused many original

buyers in Oakwood Shores to lose

their equity while their property taxes

have increased. The loss of the original

units and the slow pace of replacement

has meant few customers for the East

39th Street commercial corridor and it

has fallen into disrepair. This drop in

demand for the goods and services once

offered on the corridor has been devastating.

4 Hunt, D. Bradford. Blueprint for Disaster the Unraveling of

Chicago Public Housing. London: University of Chicago, 2009.




Bronzeville overall has many assets around which amenities can be built, including these landmarks:

• Wabash Avenue YMCA, 3763 Wabash Ave. Bronzeville’s YMCA was a center for the neighborhood

at its inception. The YMCA was restored in 2000 and is open to the public.

• Chicago Defender Building, 3435 Indiana Ave. This building housed the Chicago Defender, the

nation’s largest Black newspaper, from 1920-1960. The building is vacant and may be for sale.

• Overton Hygienic Building, 3619-27 State St. Built by Black businessman Anthony Overton as

the headquarters of his cosmetics company. The building also had Victory Life Insurance Company

and Douglass National Bank, America’s first national African-American bank, as tenants. The building

is now owned by the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission.

• Sunset Cafe (Ace Meyers Hardware Store), 315 35th St, Many jazz legends played at this jazz

club, including: Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, and, Louis

Armstrong. The club was run by the mafia and the musicians had terrible contracts. The building is

now a hardware store. Still, the Sunset Cafe is Chicago’s number one jazz history site and its name

or flavor could be resurrected in a neighborhood economic development scheme.

• Supreme Life Building, 3501 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Built to house the first African-American

insurance company, the building is the site of the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center.

• Eighth Regiment Armory (Bronzeville Military Academy), 3533 Giles Ave This building, once an

armory for an all Black fighting regiment, has been restored and now houses a college-prep military


• Chicago Bee Building, 3647-3655 State St, former home of the Chicago Bee Newspaper. Today it

houses the Chicago Bee Branch Library 5 .

5 http://wikitravel.org/en/Chicago/Bronzeville



The primary market area is the half mile

radius extending out in all directions

from the corner of 39th and South Martin

Luther King Drive, which was once

the start of the main shopping strip

going westward. For the pedestrian

this is a 15 minute walk, for the commuter

a five minute drive. Within this

area 39th street faces competition from

35th and 43rd, which both have more

highly developed retail corridors. At the

Lake Meadows shopping mall there is

500,000 sq feet of space housing a Jewel

Foods, a Walgreen’s and a Dunkin’ Donuts.

There is a Chase National Bank on

the corner of 35th and King Drive.

To the west on 39th by 90/94 there are

several lots large enough for national

and regional stores in the 60,000 to

140,000 square ft., but currently consumers

have very few retail options on

the corridor. Food options are scarce

also; there are two sit-down restaurants

and a fast food restaurant. Since 39th

is surrounded on all sides by competing

retail corridors and experiences significant

retail leakage, its main customers

will be those residents coming online in

the immediate half mile trade area. The

three and five mile trade areas are not

as much of a factor because Downtown

Chicago lies within, which shifts the

locus completely.

Figure 4 Primary Trade Area (.5 Mile) Also 1 and 3 mile Source: ESRI Community Analyst



Figure 5 Job Distribution in the 1 Mile Trade Area Source: US Census On the Map

The primary job center in the trade area is

the Illinois Institute of Technology campus

at 3300 S. Federal, which employs

2,375 including 659 faculty. IIT is a private

Ph.D.-granting university with programs

in engineering, psychology, architecture

and other disciplines 6 . The self-contained

nature of the Institute means that it

meets many of the needs of its employees,

students and faculty itself. Like all

6 “Illinois Institute of Technology.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

Web. 16 Nov. 2011. .

large schools it has a significant number of

dining options. In 35th Street, it also has

a developed retail corridor that serves it

quite well. Though it may be desirable, it

is doubtful that enough of its attendees or

staff will pass up 35th for 39th Street to

make the Illinois Institute of Technology

a serious factor in the future of East 39th

Street. Of course, successful development

of the corridor would bring with it

be beneficial consequences including more

visits from Illinois Institute of Technology

students, employees and faculty, but these

cannot be counted on.

The dark area is the Campus of the Illinois

Institute of Chicago. Because the 35th

street commercial corridor lies between IIT

and East 39th street, and has a relatively

closed campus environment, it is doubtful

that IIT employees will be a strong factor in

East 39th streets future success.



If one looks just at the number of households

and their median income, the retail

spending potential in the half mile trade

area looks weak, however a closer look at

ESRI Community Analyst data reveals that

26% of households in that area earn more

than $50,000 per year and that 14% have

a Masters Degree or higher level education.

By 2015, 33% of the area’s residents

are expected to earn $50,000 or more per

year. Overall, the 2010 median household

income of $19,740 is expected to rise

to $25,631 in 2015, a 33% rise. In 2015,

18% of the households within the primary

trade area will make between $25,000

and $49,000 per year. All numbers are in

inflation adjusted 2009 dollars. Attracting

residents from all of these income groups

to 39th street will be important to the corridor’s

future success.

Fifteen percent of the half mile trade

area’s 5107 housing units are owner occupied,

85% are renter occupied. Of the

area’s 5107 households, 55% or 2809 are

families. This indicates a stability that

counters the high number of renters. The

median age of 31.9 is projected to rise only

slightly to 32.3 in 2015, which means a

young population whose incomes will most

likely rise in the future and will be able to

support more local development.

The shopper of 2015 will be a more affluent,

more educated version of the 2010

shopper, and a homeowner. With 1 to

3 bedroom condos in 3 to 6-flat buildings,

townhomes and single family homes

priced between $179,000 - $389,000,

Oakwood Shores will bring residents from

Key Stats 2010

a mix of incomes together. As homeowners

and wage earners they will expect a corridor

with amenities that provide for their

daily needs and aspirations.

.5 Miles: 39th & KING

DR. 1 Mile 3 Mile Chicago

Households 5,107 16,464 259,055 1,063,047

Population 13,315 45,557 100,011 2,824,064

Population Density 15,585 ******* ******* 17092

Median Age 31.9 29.1 31.3 32.8

Household Average Income $36,404 $38,563 $54,875 $53,226

Median Household Income $19,740 $21,616 $38,281 $46,781

% African American

Population 97.0% 90.9% 52.0% 34.1%

% Hispanic Population 1.4% 1.6% 19.3% 27.4%

Total Retail Expenditure $39,196,449 $132,490,370 $863,438,169 $73,688,472,212

Apparel and Services $4,909,201 $16,677,424 $145,185,540 $10,683,254,151

Alcoholic Beverages $1,746,470 $5,858,897 $50,385,774 $324,104,319

Restaurants $9,236,654 $31,264,151 $270,615,913 $6,844,158,150

Grocery Stores $13,383,950 $76,366,875 $381,457,722 $19,920,782,603

Table 1 Demographic Data Source: ESRI Community Analyst In inflation adjusted 2009 dollars.

Key Stats 2015

.5 Miles: 39th & KING

DR. 1 Mile 3 Mile

Households 5,051 16,556 260,271

Population 13,193 45,985 100,808

Population Density


Median Age 32.3 29.2 31.4

Household Average Income $43,127 $45,861 $66,195

Median Household Income $25,631 $27,274 $48,445

% African American

Population 96.4% 90.3% 51.1%

% Hispanic Population 1.9% 2.0% 20.5%

Table 2 Demographic Data Source: ESRI Community Analyst

In adjusted 2009 dollars.



Table 3 Supply and Demand Data Source: ESRI Community Analyst



Leakage is the difference between buying power and retail sales. It indicates how much residents

of an area spend that is not captured by actual sales by local stores. For example, if zip

code “X” has $70 million in expenditures by local residents on retail goods, and $30 million in

sales of retail goods by local stores, the leakage for “X” is $40 million. This tends to produce

a conservative estimate of leakage because stores sell to people outside the neighborhood as

well. Most neighborhoods have positive leakage because certain types of goods and services

are not normally purchased in the neighborhood. For example, you would not find major appliance

stores or large law firms in most neighborhood areas. The above chart shows that key

industry group categories in the immediate trade area show significant leakage. There is 100%

leakage in the Electronics and Appliance Stores category, also in Furniture Stores, meaning that

all shopping in these categories is done outside the trade area. There is a 100% leakage factor

in Specialty Food Stores, which indicates the same. A leakage factor of 57, such as that in

Grocery Stores, indicates that 57% of grocery shopping occurs outside the half-mile trade area.

The only negative leakage figure (above in red), in the half-mile trade area is the -$1,366,326 in

NAICS category 4453: Beer, Wine and Liquor Stores. This negative leakage means that customers

are coming in from outside the trade area to make purchases in the Beer, Wine and Liquor

Stores Category from the areas two liquor stores, which will be named later in the Exisitng

Land Use section. The numbers are similar at the 1 mile trade area also.



In a 2010 MetroEdge Retail Scan of Bronzeville’s 43rd, 47th and 51st study areas,

survey respondents, when asked “What are the stores, restaurants, offices, or other

businesses (in Area 1,2 or 3) that you visit most often?” the most visited places by

far were food related. In area 2 (43rd street), for example, 26 of 52 (50%) respondents

said when visiting a corridor, they most often visited a restaurant or food market.

Services were the next most heavily visited at 11 of 52 (21%). Retail accounted

for only 9 respondents (17%). In Area 1(43rd street) 37 of 53 (70%) visits were food

related. 39th street has three restaurants: Pearl’s, Sneak Peek, and the Chicago Rib

House. This use also works well with the shallow lot sizes.

This Market Potential Index (MPI) measures relative market demand for restaurants

in the half mile trade area compared to the U.S. average. Numbers over 100 indicate

demand for restaurants greater than the national average. Notice that Old Country

Buffet has an MPI of 247 which means that the demand for this restaurant is almost

two and one-half times the national average. The data shows strong demand for a

family steakhouse, as well.



Table 4 Restaurant Potential Source: ESRI Community Analyst



As stated above, 39th Street faces competition from 35th and 43rd, which both have more highly developed retail corridors. At

the Lake Meadows shopping mall, to the east of 3500 South King Drive at Lake Meadows Shopping Mall, there is 500,000 sq feet

of space housing a Jewel Foods, a Walgreen’s and a Dunkin’ Donuts, among other businesses.

1. From 3500 S King Drive and west to State Street, a span of four city blocks, nine restaurants, a liquor store, Chase Bank, a hardware

store, two shoe stores, two cell phone stores, and two services.

• Wood’s Food and Liquor

• Chase Bank

• Ace Hardware (the former Sunset

Café, where Louis Armstrong

used to play)

• 213 Wireless

• US Cellular

• Jackson Hewitt Tax Services

• Mena Nail Salon

• Payless Shoes

• Just Fit Shoes

• Popeye’s Chicken

• Kentucky Fried Chicken

• Downtown Sub

• Quiznos

• Church’s Chicken

• McDonald’s

• Jimmy John’s

• Starbuck’s

• Hong Kong Delight

This is significant competition from only a half mile to the north

or south, however the retail and restaurants at both 35th and

43rd are still a half-mile away. By offering retail and services

close to the developments at State Street and at King Drive

39th could possibly carve an identity out for itself as a neighborhood

shopping/eating cluster that would serve the area’s

residents and draw traffic from 90/94. This approach was successful

in the corridor’s past. Before the destruction of 3500

housing units and the resulting population loss, East 39th Street

served as a neighborhood shopping center for the area’s local


Figure 6 3500 S. King Drive Looking West Source: Google Maps

2. Forty-third and King Drive and west to State Street is not

as well developed as 35th street, but still has a bar and grill, a

grocery store, three fast food restaurants, and a used furniture


• Saveway Food

• JJ Fish and Chicken

• Pizza Ria

• Alice’s Barbecue

• Lady D’s Used Furniture

• 4310 Bar & Grill



Oakwood Shores

Lost population density on the corridor

is slated to be replaced. At the eastern

end of the corridor, the 94 acre Oakwood

Shores development is roughly

bounded by 35th Street to the north,

Lake Park Avenue to the east, Pershing

Road to the south and Martin Luther

King Jr. Drive to the west. Originally

the site of 3,500 public housing units,

when finished Oakwood Shores will add

3,000 units of new rental and for-sale

housing to the corridor. The for-sale

properties are priced between $179,000

and $389,000. Construction began in

2003 and will be completed over several

phases. An exact timeline has not been

published by the CHA.

Rental Phase 2, located along Pershing

Road between Cottage Grove Ave.

and Vincennes Ave. consists of 199 new

CHA, affordable and market rate rental

units. Rental unit features include custom

landscaping, dishwashers, a patio

or deck with each unit, energy efficient

central air, private and guest parking,

in low rise, 3 story or less brick buildings.

Developers include UJIMA (rental

and for-sale), The Community Builders

(rental), Granite Development (rental

and for-sale) and MB Real Estate (forsale).

When these units are completed

and occupied, there will be a need once

again for a nearby neighborhood center

where goods and services can be obtained

7 .


Announced in February of 2007 by Capri

Capital Partners LLC, the residential/retail

mixed use development Metropolis

will be coming to the western end of

the corridor at 39th Street and South

State, anchored by a 60,000 square

ft. Roundy’s grocery store. In a joint

venture with Judson Investment Company,

“The Metropolis,” is a three phase

mixed-use project that when finished

will be approximately 1,000,000 square

feet in size. The first phase consists of

330,000 square feet of commercial retail

area and 102 residential condominium

units at a cost of $155 million. The initial

phase will include green space surrounded

by two six-story curved steel

and glass buildings. Future phases include

three towers dedicated to residential

and hotel uses. The development is

slated for completion by 2013 8 .

Figure 7 Metropolis at 39th and State Street Source: EveryBlock

7 “Individual Development Page | Chicago Housing Authority.”

Home | Chicago Housing Authority. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.


8 “Breaking News, Press Release Distribution, Targeting and

Monitoring, Public Relations and Investor Relations Services,

Multimedia and Press Release Optimization, Enhanced

Online News, and Regulatory Filings.” Press Release Distribution,

Financial Disclosure, Online Newsrooms, PR, Public

Relations, Investor Relations, EDGAR Filing, XBRL, Breaking

News, Business News, Financial News | Business Wire. Web.



Along 39th Street’s western edge, adjacent to Interstate 90/94, there are several two to three

acre parcels that would be suitable for a Big Box retailer. One acre comprises 43,560 square

feet. An easy way to imagine an acre is as a rectangle measuring 88 yards by 55 yards, slightly

less than the size of a standard American football field. The designation “Big Box” calls

forth an image of a large, rectangular, windowless, single story building on a concrete slab,

surrounded by a huge surface parking lot. The Big Box retail model depends on high volume

sales with tight profit margins. To generate high volume sales, the Big Box retailer must occupy

a large amount of space, and offer enough parking to accommodate many shoppers.

To reduce design and construction costs, Big Box retail stores typically stick to a standardized

layout 9 . The American Planning Association defines a Big Box store as a stand alone store of

at least 100,000 square feet. On top of these space requirements must be added at least one

parking space for every 200 feet of floor space, a parking requirement of 500 spaces. Generally,

one hundred and fifty 8-foot parking spaces can be fit into an acre 10 , bringing the total

land use requirements for a Big Box store along Interstate 90/94 to approximately five acres.

There is a site on the north side of 39th Street up to 36th Street and between Federal and

State Streets that meets these requirements and where 232,800 cars pass by every day.

16 Nov. 2011. .

9 Dwight H. Merriam, Breaking Big Boxes: Learning from the Horse Whisperers (Symposium 2005), VT. J. OF ENVTL. L.

10 “How Many Standard Parking Spaces Are There in an Acre? | ChaCha.” Questions & Answers | ChaCha. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. .



Along the south side of East 39th street from

Langley to State the corridor is zoned mostly

B3-3, which allows for commercial development

of any size, with the center of the strip

from King Drive to Indiana being plagued by

shallow lots that directly abut lots zoned for

residential. Even though much of Pershing

zoned B3-3, which is Community shopping

– destination oriented, with no limit on size

of commercial establishment, the size and

depth of the existing lots are inadequate to

support the higher quality uses permitted.

Marginal retailers, too small to be profitable,

come in, deteriorate, and become vacant.

This adversely impacts the neighborhood

and the economic development of the surrounding

commercial property. The small lots

also increase pressure to rezone neighboring

residential lots for an expansion of the use,

which further destabilizes the situation.

However, as stated before, there are large

parcels on the west end that would be suitable

for large commercial developments.

These lots are adjacent to Interstate 90/94

and its extremely high traffic counts. The primary

reason for examining current land use

is to analyze the impacts the uses are having

on the surrounding neighborhood. Each land

use has impacts associated with it that can

enhance or detract from the community. As

such, 39th street’s 61 parcels and their land

uses were categorized into 11 groups:

General Land Use Type Use Name Number of

1. Services • Insurance

• Printing

• Barber

• State Farm

• Five Star


• Clippers



Percent of


3 5%

2. Alcohol • Alcohol sales • Rothschild’s

2 3%

• Vegas

3. Restaurants/Fast • Food prep and • Pearls Place

3 5%



• Chicago Rib


• Baba’s

4. Hotels/Motels • Hotel services • Amber Inn 2 3%

5. Sale of Goods • General

• Flowers

• Used goods

• Cell phone


• Dollar General

• Blossoms of

Hawaii Flower


• 339 E. Pershing

• Unlimited


4 7%

6. Auto related • Gas station • CITGO 1 2%

7. Health Center • Medical


8. Public/Schools • Fire house

• Public



• Educational


9. Churches • Religious


1. Residential • Religious


• Bronzeville

Medical Center

• Mastercare

Family Center

• Engine Co. 19

• Association of

Letter Carriers

• Dawson Tech

• Phillips High


• Your School of


• Bible Mission

• St Joseph


• MBC Church


• Beersheba


• 3845 S. State

• 125-123 E.




5 8%

4 7%

2 3%

2. Vacant

33 54%


Total 61 100%

Table 5 Existing Land Use

Table 4 Existing Land Uses




It is well known that while people

tend not to shop locally for retail

items like clothing, accessories etc,

preferring to go “downtown” to the

Central Business District, they will

shop for services in the neighborhood.

Services increase daytime

foot traffic, an important factor in

the health of any commercial corridor

and bring much-needed local

employment. East 39th has three

service businesses, making up 5% of

the corridor’s total land use.

Figure 10 Older Mixed Use on East 39th Street

Source: The Author


Two alcohol stores, Rothschild’s and

Vegas significantly impact East Pershing

Road in a negative way. They are

clustered, which increases their impact.

The alcohol use on the corridor

is 100% off-premises, which is known

to contribute negatively to the surrounding

community. Off premise

use in the overall Chicago area is only

53%. Both Vegas and Rothschild’s

are located near schools and homes.


39th street has three restaurants:

Pearl’s, Sneak Peek, and the Chicago

Rib House and a fast food establishment,

Baba’s Steak and Lemonade.

They constitute 5% of the land use

on the corridor.


East 39th street has one motel, the

Amber Inn, which though it provides

customers for Pearl’s Place

Restaurant, has raised community

resident’s concern and perception of

prostitution and drug trafficking.

Sale of Goods

This general land use category includes

outside display, and retail

stores selling used goods. When

located on small parcels, near residential

neighborhoods, and where

the premises are not properly maintained,

these land uses can have an

adverse impact on the community.

Residents don’t like the open display

of washing machines, furniture, etc

at used goods stores and fear that

the merchandise may include stolen

property. Used goods stores are associated

with negative perceptions

that can adversely affect a corridor’s


Auto Related

The sole automobile use in the study

area is a CITGO Gasoline Station. The

station is clean, well lit and maintained

and appears to have no negative

impact on the surrounding area.

When the 3000 unit CHA mixed-income

Oakwood Shores Development

is finished, there will be a real need

for this station.

Health Center

There are two health Centers on

the corridor that actively contribute

positively economically and healthwise

to Bronzeville. Bronzeville

Medical Center was established in

1980 and incorporated in Illinois. This

company has annual revenue of less



than $500,000 and employs a staff

of 4. Mastercare Family Medical

Center employs the same number of

people and has approximately the

same revenue as Bronzeville medical

center. Both of these health centers

offer managed health care.

Store Front Churches

When African Americans first began

to move into Bronzeville they

brought with them a number of

churches. In spite of the survival of

several congregations in the neighborhood

religious institutions have

not always prospered nor remained

in the neighborhood. The economy,

racial changes, and urban development

have all had an effect upon the

religious nature of the community,

especially since the fifties. As church

members began to move out of the

community, some churches left,

leaving behind buildings that were

abandoned. Two large churches, Holy

Angels and Apostolic Church contribute

positively to the area. However,

there are three store church buildings

on the corridor that contribute

negatively to the appearance of the

corridor. They are Beersheba Bible

Church, St Joseph Baptist and Bible

Mission Church. They are located in

dilapidated structures that are physically

unattractive and do not reflect

their importance to the community

and their congregations. These structures

are on shallow lots that push

up against lots zoned residential.

Figure 11 Storefront Church at 39th and Langley

Source: The Author

Public Uses

Public buildings are part of the infrastructure

of the community. Every

neighborhood is anchored in its

buildings, which include its churches,

libraries, civic buildings, schools and

hospitals. A planned Chicago Firefight

Department training station for

Engine Co. 19 and the Association of

Letter Carriers both positively affect

the corridor, adding jobs and stability

to the corridor.


The CHA Oakwood Shores Development

will provide 3000 mixedincome

units to the corridor, though

it is unclear when exactly they will

be completed. Information on the

development’s timeline is scarce

and developers, looking at the losses

mounting on their pro-forma statements,

have been focusing on selling

the units already completed before

beginning other construction phases

11 . Joseph Williams, of Oakwood

Shores developer Granite Partners,

describes his efforts to continue development

as “missionary work.”

However, when the total development

comes online and a significant

portion of the units have been sold,

the resulting surge in population

could create demand for new shops

and restaurants on East 39th Street.

11 “Plan for Transformation a Tough Sell in Weak Market

- Chicago Tribune.” Featured Articles From The Chicago

Tribune. 10 June 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.


There are some signs that the area

is moving towards more population

density. 3845 S. State is a relatively

large (10-20) unit development that

brings much needed density to

the area. 125 - 123 East Pershing is

similarly sized and new also. Neither

development is part of Oakwood

Shores. There are some older apartments

above storefronts at 316 East

and 617-615 East Pershing that need


Vacant Lots/Structures: 19 vacant

lots, 14 vacant structures

54% of the land along the corridor is

vacant, not including the two large

empty lots that will be part of the

finished Oakwood Shores development.

This includes 19 vacant lots

and 14 vacant structures. These

vacant lots are a significant problem

because they contribute to the lack

of perceived safety on the corridor,

discourage walking and discourage

passing commuters from stopping for

a visit. However, they are well positioned

directly across from the pending

Oakwood Shores development

and provide an opportunity for infill

development that increases population,

maintains the stability of the

neighborhood and encourages transit


Figure 12 Vacant Lot on East 39th Source: The Author



As stated above, the East Pershing

Commercial Corridor, is locked in on

both sides with uninformative highway

signage and blocks of empty

lots as you approach from both the

east and the west, making what few

stores that are present there difficult

to find. Interstate 90/94 forms

a barrier that effectively cuts East

Pershing off from neighborhoods

to the west. This cuts the corridor

off from the spending potential of

the thousands of White Sox fans

who park at US Cellular Field’s 39th

street parking lot and from the over

274,000 commuters who pass 39ith

on 90/94 daily. West 39th attracts

truck drivers passing 39th with a

cluster of truck stop restaurants.

However, truck traffic is neither

desired nor appropriate for East

39th street. Still, someone exiting

from the major arteries to both the

east and the west must drive two

to three blocks before coming upon

the East Pershing Commercial Corridor.

To the east of Langley, substantial

improvements have been

made to the streetscape including

roadway plantings and open park


Figure 13 No Signage at I90/94 Looking East Source: Google Maps

Figure 14 I90/94 Exit at 39th No Signage Indicating Shopping

Source: Google Maps




Bus service on the corridor (#39 Bus)

has been slowed since the tearing down

of the area’s projects and shut down

completely on weekends. However

39th street is served to the west by

the CTA Red Line train and to the East

by the Green Line, which has a stop at

40th and Indiana. The #3 King Drive Bus

also stops at 39th and South King Drive.

Also, in May of 2011 Metra opened the

new Lovana S. Jones/Bronzeville Station

at 35th and Federal.

Figure 15 Traffic Counts on East 39th Source: ESRI Community Analyst

Traffic Counts

Traffic counts on the corridor are at

present modest, the highest of 14,800

being located between Michigan and

Wells. The north/south orange street

in the center and at the junction to the

entrance of the main part of the corridor,

King Drive counts 17,400 cars per

day. Importantly, traffic counts at both

the west end 90/94 and the east’s Lake

Shore Drive are much higher. Properly

planned and developed, East 39th could

pull in traffic from these major thoroughfares.

Figure 16 Traffic Counts at I90/94 and Lake Shore Drive

Source: ESRI Community Analyst



In 2009 the White Sox Drew

2,284,000 fans to U. S. Cellular

Field, which has a capacity of

40, 615. Gross revenue was

$194M. The White Sox have

averaged 2.5 million fans or

31,000 fans per game since

2005. A large percentage of

game attendees park at the

39th street parking lot each

game, few are drawn to east

39th street to spend. U.S. Cellular

Field, home of the Chicago

White Sox, ranked 5th in attendance

for Chicago’s largest

tourist attractions. The 2009

White Sox sold more regular

season tickets than the Bulls,

Blackhawks and Bears combined

12 .

Figure 9 White Sox Attendance Comparison Source: Chicago White Sox

12 The Official Site of The Chicago White Sox | Whitesox.com:

Homepage. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. .



Overall, the physical condition of the East 39th street streetscape is sound, with concrete sidewalks on both

sides of the street, adequate lighting even some freshly paved streets. However, because of the many vacant

lots and general deterioration of some of the buildings along the corridor, the pedestrian experience is

poor at best. The sidewalks along East 39th Street are in general disrepair, with many hazardous curb cuts

that lead to parking for businesses that were shuttered long ago. Also, the corridor lacks an identity. There

is a sense that in a rush to tear down the Ida B Wells/Madden park complex and relocate its residents, part

of the corridors history and therefore its identity was erased. The New Urbanist structures of the 94-acre

Oakwood Shores development that have replaced the “projects” have a generic, cookie-cutter feel. This,

along with the street’s other problems, contributes to an absence of a real sense of place, of an identity that

would motivate neighborhood stakeholders and residents to stop and shop or dine there. The future of East

39th street involves a reversal of this loss of identity and a reconnection with the street’s history. Similarly,

a general plan to improve the function, safety and appearance of the corridor would create a sense of order

and place and motivate local residents and commuters to visit East 39th street. The city has well known regulatory

techniques that it applies elsewhere but planners seem to have forgotten East 39th Street. Elements

of a well-integrated streetscape include gateways and plazas, attractive landscaping, lighting for both cars

and pedestrians, public art, murals, enhanced paving, and branded signage. These enhancements must be

made in a way that fits the needs of business owners, kids on their way to and from school, active adults and

retirees and passing commuters. To the east of Langley, substantial improvements have been made to the

streetscape including roadway plantings and open park space.



In the many surveys that have been conducted on the area and in my own interactions with community

members of EveryBlock, safety, especially at night, has been cited as one of the main reasons

local residents are not drawn to East 39th street. Chicago Police statistics show that from October

8, 2011 through November 8, 2011 there were thirty seven crimes reported within two blocks of

39th Street and King Drive 13 . These crimes range from personal crimes like battery, criminal sexual

assault, gambling and theft to property crimes like burglary and vandalism. The area’s many vacant

lots, the two liquor stores and the deteriorated quality of the streetscape make East 39th street a

non-destination. There are positive signs that show a concerned citizenry committed to lowering

incidents of crime, however. East 39th street does not show signs that people don’t care about the

community like graffiti, the presence of gangs or high levels of violence by or against teens. Phillips

public high school has a safety team in place during the day to ensure the safe passage of children

to and from the school and a police presence but does not appear to suffer from the problems many

south side schools face as the displacement of gangs into new environments caused by resident relocation.

The police presence at Phillips is more benign and does have the “occupying” police feel of

some of the city’s problem schools. Recently, improvements were made to the lighting on east 39th

street, between King Drive and Federal, a section that includes Rothschild’s Liquors. These improvements

are a step in the right direction in addressing negative safety perceptions on this area of the


13 http://files2.chicagotribune.com/metro/crime/



Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the corridor, opportunities and threats are external forces.


• High Average Daily Traffic

Counts: ADT at 90/94 of 232,800

cars per day. 119,700 at Lake

Shore Drive.

• Rising Median Income: Douglas,

(2010 population 27,022) on

the north side of 39th, has a median

income of $31,526, up from

2000’s $26,710. Grand Boulevard

(population 26,651), to the

south, has a median income of

$25,249, up from $19,723 in

2000. All figures are in 2009

dollars and adjusted for inflation.

11% of Grand Boulevard’s residents

make $50,000 or more per

year. 15% of Douglas’ residents

make the same.

• Educational Attainment:

15% of Douglas residents have

a Master’s Degree or higher,

17% a Bachelor’s degree. Residents

have a Master’s Degree or

higher, a Bachelor’s degree.

• Available Project Funding:

East 39th Street is located within

Tax Increment Financing District

and Enterprise Zone 2.

• Competent Leadership: Dynamic

aldermen in 3rd and 4th


• An Anchor for the East End

of East 39th Street: A new large

Dollar General store on the site

of the old Sunrise Grocery at East

39th and Langley.

• A Rise In Population Density:

3000 units of new housing to

be built at Oakwood Shores

and Phase 1 of The Metropolis

development, including 102 condominiums

and anchored by a

Roundy’s grocery store, which is

slated to be completed by 2013.

• Big Box Store Potential: Large

parcels on the west end suitable

for Big Box retailers.


• Few Selling Points: Lack of

identifiable culture within which

to drop the retail (adjacency).

• Difficult to Find: Locked in on

one side by 90/94 and the other

by LSD and lots of residential and


• Low Proximity to Employment

Centers: Far from IIT job center.

• No Signage at Interstate 90/94

and Lake Shore Drive: Dull, un

informative highway exits don’t

announce East 39th Street’s

presence as a shopping destination.

• 19 Vacant Lots: Decreases

walkability and corridor attractiveness.

Could also be a

strength, as it offers opportunities

for in-fill development that

strengthens the neighborhood.

• Vacant Buildings: 14 vacant

structures. This could also be

a strength, as it allows for infill


• Negative Land Use: Two liquor

stores within 1000 feet of each


• Dilapidated Buildings: Buildings

in need of façade improvements.

• Poor Safety Perception: Polled

residents cite safety as a primary


• Shallow Lots: Not suitable for

many of today’s retailers.

• Lack of Retail: When lower

population density occurred,

many retailers closed or relocated.

• Moderate Traffic Counts: Only



11,200 cars per day at the center

of the corridor.

• Poor Streetscaping: Broken

sidewalks, lack of a cohesive corridor


• Hand painted signs: These

signs give the corridor an unprofessional


• Low Population Density: Loss

of population with CHA project

removal of 3200 units in Wells,

the immediate trade area.

• High Retail Float: $54M in

Total Retail Trade and Food and

Drink leakage in the half-mile

trade area (more demand than


• Low Commercial Rents: Rents

in the $16 to $23 per sq ft range

attract lower quality commercial

tenants. This could also be

strength, helping to attract commercial



• Infill Development: Vacant

lots provide an opportunity to

“fill in” the area with development

that stabilizes the neighborhood

and increases population


• Improved Transit: There is

an opportunity to increase the

frequency of bus trips on the #39

bus route and link the area’s existing

CTA and Metra Lines with

bus service.

• Development of Key Intersections:

To identify which intersections

are best positioned for the

future and to suggest appropriate

usage mixes.


• Near-Term Low Population

Density: Loss of 200,000 Chicago

residents in the past decade,

most of them African-American.

• Nearby Competition: From

35th and 43rd retail strips,

and from the Lake Meadows

Shopping Center, which offers

500,000 square feet of retail.

• Ecommerce: More and more

products are being purchased on

the Internet, calling into question

the need for more retail.

• Oversaturation of Retail

Market: As cited above, over 1

Billion square feet of retail has

been developed in the US since

the year 2000.

As stated earlier, by examining the corridor’s

strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats

in a SWOT analysis,

it is possible to ascertain its “competitive

advantage”, its market position and

come up with an appropriate “Vision”.


Trends affecting Chicago’s existing corridors

include a market preference for

large format stores, a market preference

for discount power centers with multiple

large format stores, the anti-urban bias

of many retailers, and the decline of

traditional neighborhood anchors like

department stores and grocery stores.

Chicago has over 700 miles of retail

strips. At least 40% of this retail space

is vacant 14 . This indicates the need to

convert some retail into other uses and

to concentrate existing retail into “activity

centers.” Activity centers are focal

points of economic activity, planned

for concentrations of compact development.

Many existing Activity Centers

have the capacity for new growth. There

are three types of Activity Centers:

• Center City

•Mixed Use Centers

• Industrial Centers

Activity Centers are characterized by

retail designed to serve the surrounding

community and, in some cases the region,

moderate (up to 22 units per acre)

to high density (over 22 units per acre)

and regional and neighborhood serving

office space and civic uses such as urban

parks, religious institutions and libraries.

They are places with a diversity of uses

14 Source: UIC Land Use Planning Class

that draw traffic from the entire city,

with a significant pedestrian orientation

and both day and evening uses. Successful

examples of naturally occurring activity

centers in Chicago that could provide

a model for the development of East

39th street include Chinatown, the East

Indian shops and restaurants on Devon

Avenue and the Vietnamese restaurant/

shop cluster on Argyle. East 39th could

establish an identity and position itself

well into the future by returning to

its past as a local neighborhood shopping

center with development focused

around specific intersections and by

drawing in some of the average 31,000

Chicago White Sox Fans who exit US Cellular

Field’s 39th street parking lots after

home games.

In the short term of 1-2 years, during

the period before the Oakwood Shores

and Metropolis Developments come online,

a commercial market study shows

fairly weak demand for commercial

space. I therefore propose that policies

in the near term consolidate and restrict

retail uses to the area between Interstate

90/94 to the west and South King

Drive, to the east for several reasons.

1. This node has an anchor in Phase

1 of the Metropolis Development

and Roundy’s Grocery at the corner


of 39th Street and State, which will

be completed by 2013. This action

adds new retail space.

2. Residents of the 102 condominiums

being built at Metropolis will be

potential customers of its retail.

3. The area is near US Cellular Field’s

39th Street parking lot and the

thousands of fans exiting each of 92

home games.

4. Interstate 90/94 exit at 39th street

has a traffic count of 232,800 cars

and trucks per day., meaning at

least that many potential customers.

Given the existing commercial market

conditions, construction of new retail

buildings to the east of King Drive is

unlikely in the near term. I recommend

improving the existing retail corridor

with facade improvements to the buildings,

coordinated signage, and new


VISION: Develop an anchored

neighborhood retail district on

East 39th Street serving local

residents, commuters and Chicago

White Sox Fans. This district will

connect to and support the wider

neighborhood and its amenities.



Development of a commercial district

corridor must take into account land

use, access management and aesthetic


Land Use –At the corridor level, good

land use includes localized actions for

indi¬vidual parcels based on site-specific

strengths and weaknesses. This

helps guide the type and quantity

of development that should occur

based on existing and future capacities.

Access Management – Competent

access management improves traffic

flow, enhances driver and pedestrian

safety, and establishes an image for

the corridor. East 39th street overall

is a sound roadway, with good width,

low traffic speeds and parking along

the strip, but it goes unnoticed to

the hundreds thousands of motorists

traveling down Interstate 90/94 to

the west and to drivers on Lake Shore

Drive, as well.

Aesthetic Standards – Aspects of

39th streets physical appearance

such as landscape features, lighting,

pedestrian amenities and sig¬nage

are addressed in Chicago’s zoning ordinance,

and for a time it seemed as

if the corridor was being ignored. Recently

though, lighting improvements

were made from 39th and Federal to

Indiana Streets.

Aesthetic standards and a comprehensive

corridor plan, along with a

reconnection to history are all important

elements in a re-establishment

of its identity. Identity, though not

often discussed in plans, is very important

to the success of any commercial

corridor. There must be a

“culture” within which to develop the

retail. In retail this concept is called

“adjacency”. Adjacency takes advantage

of a space’s history to help create

a cultural sense of place. Like on

Maxwell Street, real former culture

creators of the space are replaced by

statues, original edifices are kept and

restored, and the space’s ambience is

used to sell goods and services. Profit

pursuit needs a milieu within which

to immerse and soften itself, and to

appear interesting. This culture is

one thing that separates retail spaces

that have a generic, Disney feel to

them from those that have a sense

of place like Pikes Place in Seattle,

WA or Fisherman’s Wharf in New

York City. Strong leadership will be

required to organize and encourage

this effort. The leadership can come

from the owner of a major business,

from an elected official or from a

community based organization that

wants to pursue the beautification of

the corridor so that 39th Street can

become known as a clean place to

visit and shop. Taking all of these issues

into consideration, the following

recommendations are made:

Phase One: 1- 3 years

Beautify the streetscape with gateways

and plazas, attractive landscaping,

lighting for both cars and pedestrians,

public art, murals, enhanced

paving, and branded signage. Sidewalks

should be rebuilt. Street trees,

banners and transit shelters should

be installed.

Improve the appearance of properties

and store facades along the

corridor with planned corridor development

standards, and establish

visual continuity along the corridor.

Vacant lots and green space should

be adopted by neighboring schools



and businesses and made into wellmaintained

flower gardens or parks.

Lots that are currently overgrown

with weeds should be maintained on

a regular basis or turned into parks,

playgrounds and sitting areas. This

will require synchronized actions by

property owners and communitybased


Create a “Bronzeville Legends and

History” billboard/mural campaign,

supported by the Chicago Public Art

Group and local schools. This will

reconnect East 39th street with its

history and provide a cultural milieu

to drop the restaurants and retail environment

and drive visits and sales.

Position East 39th Street as a local

neighborhood shopping and eating

destination that serves the area’s immediate

residents, especially those

expected to occupy the 3200 units of

Oakwood Shores and the 102 condominiums

of Phase 1 of the Metropolis

development. This will return East

39th to its past function as a neighborhood


Support and develop the west end of

Figure 17 Development Example Adjacent to I90/94 An * Indicates Possible New Development

Source: Google Maps

East 39th, around the coming Metropolis/Roundy’s

mixed-use development

on 39th and State. Develop

amenities around the area’s existing

assets with the addition of small or

medium-sized commercial project

clusters with landscaping, ranging in

type and scale from a single convenience

store to a sizable (30,000 sq.

ft.) regional retailer. Suitable land

uses include food stores, hardware

or clothing stores, insurance offices

and medical offices. Also electronics,

sporting goods stores and office



supplies stores; also auto repair, auto

body, ice cream stands, or farmers’

produce stalls. All of these categories

showed significant leakage,

accounting for much of the spending

flowing out of the area on a yearly

basis. Some of these uses would fit

into the storefronts with the shallow

lot sizes.

Reach across the 90/94 better with

better signage and a more attractive

underpass and attract the thousands

of White Sox fans who exit at

39th street after watching one of 81

homes games.

Provide better signage to the East, at

the 39th and LSD exit, to let drivers

know there is a restaurant/retail district

a few blocks to the west, starting

at Langley.

Address the restaurant leakage problem

with the addition of a brand or

type that has a high Market Potential


Phase Two: 3- 5 years

Attract a Big Box store in the 100,000

foot range to the large parcels along

the 90/94 exit. The average daily

traffic count of the highway at 39th

is the building block, the western anchor.

The eastern anchor is the Dollar

General Store at 39th and Langley.

Provide support and technical assistance

to the area’s existing businesses.

Develop the corridor’s center at 39th

and Martin Luther King Drive corner

with mixed-use quality food and

retail. When the 3000 units of Oakwood

Shores are completed, this will

be needed.

Build to the east on the success of

the Dollar General Store and fill in

the area with new space for restaurants

and services.

Improve public transportation options

on the corridor by implementing

weekend service on the #39

Pershing bus.

Encourage Transit Oriented Development

along a half mile radii from

the 40th and Indiana CTA train stop,

first suggested in the July 2011,

Bronzeville Community Development

report. Also from the report:

Secure the future with bus rapid

transit service (BRT) along 35th and

39th Streets with high capacity vehicles

and pre-paid boarding facilities.

Connect to Red and Green and Red

line stations and to the 35th street

Metra station 15 .

15 http://bronzevillealliance.org/PDF/ArchivePlans/Final_




Old Country Buffet

ESRI Community Analyst shows that the restaurant with

the strongest market Potential Index in the trade area is

Old Country Buffet. Old Country Buffet Specializes in serving

meals in which food is placed in a public area where

the diners generally serve themselves. The all-you-can-eat

buffet, is free-form: customers pay a fixed fee and can then

help themselves to as much food as they wish to eat in a

single meal. An Old Country Buffet would be a “destination”

where locals and commuters could affordably feed

themselves and their families on a night out or after a

baseball game. Featuring a causal atmosphere, the buffet

offers simple American food suitable for both adults and

children such as macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, baked

fish, mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.

Figure 10 Source: oldcountrybuffet.com

Sports Bar w/ Quality Food

Managed by someone like the Gibson’s Restaurant group, who runs Gibson’s restaurant on Rush Street

and Bacardi restaurant at US Cellular Field, a Sports Bar with quality food would draw some of the average

31,000 fans exiting each of 88 home White Sox games. A 2500 sq ft facility would be just about right.

Successful bars can be in the black within the first year and recover their initial investment within three

to four years 16 . Since the main attraction is sporting events, sports bars have televisions in view of every

seat. Keeping up with the latest in audio and video technology is important. Startup costs and revenue

potential vary depending on the size, concept and location.

16 http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/41460



Figure 19 PhotoShopped Billboard of Richard

Wright Source: The Author

The idea is the creation of

a cultural backdrop with

billboards and murals within

which to drop the retail. Ida

B Wells/ Madden Park past

should be preserved as part

of culture. Like the “Cows”

exhibit in downtown Chicago,

these installations will

create pride in the neighborhood

for all residents

and stakeholders, drive foot

traffic and boost retail sales

per square foot.

Figure 23 Art Gallery Participation

Source: The Author

Figure 20 Boxer Jack Johnson Bronzeville

Resident Source: The Author

Figure 21 Louis Armstrong Source: The Author

Figure 22 Local Retailer Participation

Lorraine Hansberry Source: The Author

Figure 24 Congressman William Dawson

Source: The Author



The East 39th Street Commercial Corridor Plan acts as a guide for redevelopment within the Trade Area, however

it is only the first step of the process. Continuing action to implement the vision is necessary if efforts are to have a

long-term impact. Implementation will require the partnership of elected officials, residents and the private sector.

Capital Expenditures

Some of the development along 90/94

should be funded through the capital

budgets of the State and the City utilizing

federal transportation monies for a

share of the cost since Interstate 90/94

is a state highway, therefore eligible for

state and federal funds. The Transportation

Equity Act for the 21st Century or

TEA-21 makes federal transportation

funds available for projects that benefit

pedestrians and bicyclists 17 .

Tax Increment Financing

The western end of East Pershing, from

400 East Pershing to 200 West Pershing

is inside Tax Increment Financing district

61. Funds from this district are already

being used to help finance the Metropolis

development at East 39th Street

and State, which can be considered the

catalyst project that will get commercial

development started. Funds should

next be tapped to make improvements

to the facades of buildings along

the corridor, since in the near-term of

17 “TEA-21 - A Summary - Protecting Our Environment.”

Home | Federal Highway Administration. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.


one to three years it is doubtful that

more commercial retail buildings will

be erected except for projects already

begun. Funds should also be tapped to

beautify the streetscape and prepare it

for the future residents of the Oakwood

Shores and Metropolis developments.

The TIF district was designated in 1998

and expires in 2022, encompassing 491

acres. It supports the rehabilitation of

existing structures and provides incentives

for new construction on vacant

land. Among the district’s priorities are

business expansion and cultural projects

that promote the area’s attractiveness,

which makes it a good potential funding

source for the billboard/mural identity

campaign suggested later on in this

plan. Recently, funds were used to pay

the debt service of the Pershing Courts

affordable housing development and for

Dunbar Park, among other things. Most

importantly, $64,000 was spent to improve

the lighting in the study area. The

table below shows 2009-2011 activity in

the fund.


Table 5 39th Street TIF Source: City of Chicago



Enterprise Zone 2

The East 39th Street commercial corridor

is also located in Enterprise Zone 2.

Administrated by the city’s Department

of Housing and Economic Development,

the objective of the zone is to help companies

create jobs for Chicago residents.

Incentives include sales tax exemptions,

property tax reductions, finance assistance,

real estate tax exemptions and

others. This will prove useful to developers

and businesses along the corridor

as its future takes shape. Specifically,

funds from this Enterprise Zone should

be tapped in Phase 1 to help make façade

improvements to the existing retail

buildings on the corridor and to beautify

the streetscape, both of which meet the

objectives of the zone as stated above.

The corridor enhancements will help

attract businesses to the corridor, which

will lead to the hiring of Chicago residents.

Possible Additional Funding

Sources and Programs

In addition to City, State and Federal

funds already described for streetscape

improvements and redevelopment actions,

there are additional resources,

mostly designed for use by communitybased

organizations that could be

employed to implement small-scale

Figure 25 Bronzeville TIF 61

Source: City of Chicago

projects consistent with the recommendations

contained in this Plan.

Funding and technical assistance for the

community identity mural and billboard

program could come from:

• Chicago Public Art Group: The

Group works with communities

and businesses to design and

implement community murals.

• In April of 2009, Clear Channel

announced a commitment to

local community affairs spanning

several areas including charitable

partnerships, local public affairs

programming and local advisory

boards. ClearChannel Communications

owns the billboards

in the area and has a stake in

the success of Bronzeville. They

could be convinced that in order

to keep advertising the latest

hip-hop artists and other products,

a giveback of free or reduced

billboard space would be

good for public image.

Part of the funding to clean up and establish

gardens in the open spaces could

come from the EPA Environmental Justice

(EJ) Small Grants Program. EJ grants

fund projects involving environmental

cleanup, gardens, education and training.

These could be used with other

implementation tools, including floor

area bonuses, to beautify the corridor.

Floor Area Bonuses

Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance contains

provides economic incentives for developers

to provide public amenities that

improve the quality of life for residents

and visitors. One incentive, the floor

area bonus, could be used to build more

public plazas and to increase the number

and quality of local parks, as suggested

in the recommendations. Chapter

17-4-1000 of the Zoning Ordinance

contains application information and

bonus tables.


Figure Guide

Cover Page: Figure 7 Metropolis at 39th and State Street

Figure 1: East 39th Street Commercial Corridor

Figure 2: Bronzeville, Chicago

Figure 3: Figure 11 Map of Bronzeville

Figure 4: Primary Trade Area (.5 Mile) Also 1 and 3 mile

Figure 5: Job Distribution in the 1Mile Trade Area

Figure 6: 3500 S. King Drive Looking West

Figure 7: Metropolis at 39th and State Street

Figure 8: Google Maps Street Screen Capture of Large Parcels Adjacent to I90/94

Figure 9: White Sox Attendance Comparison

Figure 10: Google Maps Screen Capture of Older Mixed Use on East 39th Street

Figure 11: Google Maps Screen Capture of Storefront Church at 39th and Langley

Figure 12: Vacant Lot on East 39th

Figure 13: No Signage at I90/94 Looking East

Figure 14: I90/94 Exit at 39th No Signage Indicating Shopping

Figure 15: Traffic Counts on East 39th

Figure 16: Traffic Counts at I90/94 and Lake Shore Drive

Figure 17: Development Example Adjacent to I90/94

Figure 18: 18 Old Country Buffet jpeg

Figure 19: PhotoShopped Billboard of Richard Wright

Figure 20: Boxer Jack Johnson Bronzeville Resident

Figure 21: Louis Armstrong

Figure 22: Local Retailer Participation Lorraine Hansberry

Figure 23: Art Gallery Participation

Figure 24: Congressman William Dawson

Figure 25: Bronzeville TIF 61

Table Guide

Table 1: Half Mile, Mile and 3 Mile Demographic Data

Table 2: Demographic Data

Table 3: Table 3 Supply and Demand

Table 4: Table 4 Restaurant Potential

Table 5: 39th Street TIF District