The Committee on Design recently reviewed the plan for the Altenheim Line development. Currently under the initial planning phase, the project is led by the Department of Planning and Development in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Housing and Department of Transportation.
Currently owned by CSX, the rail line in question runs east to west through Homan Square and North Lawndale. The portion of the line in question runs from S. California Ave to S. Kostner Ave between W. Taylor St and W. Fillmore St. As part of the planning process, the project will study the surrounding areas, with a boundary of the Eisenhower Expressway to the north, W. Roosevelt Rd to the south, S. Washtenaw Ave to the east, and S. Cicero Ave to the west. The Invest South/West Roosevelt/Kostner RFP site will be at the western end of the trail.
The proposed framework plan will explore the recreational opportunities of the elevated rail line. Additionally, it is charged with identifying the highest and best use of industrial and commercial parcels, building a sense of community ownership and control, supporting local economic growth, and developing strategies for equitable investment and anti-displacement.
With a consultant team led by SOM, the project design visualizes a concept of a two-mile community art and heritage trail. Responding to the community interests in integrating local heritage and creating space for recreation, the trail will include space for history and ecology while also integrating spaces for the arts. Potential programming could include a skate park, a stage and seating for spoken word or hip hop, an outdoor cinema, and sculptures along the trail.
As part of the larger study area, the plan identifies five focus areas for development in the neighborhood. Including zones dubbed Homan Square, Lawndale Plaza, Central Park Theater, Pulaski Ave, and Campus Green, these focus areas will be reimagined with potential development. Development scenarios include new housing, adaptive reuse projects, commercial, mixed-use, retail, and some light industrial uses.
Since planning work commenced in summer 2021, the project team has engaged in multiple community meetings, completed a market analysis, and developed design concepts for the line. A final plan is targeted for completion in the next couple of months, with a presentation at the Chicago Plan Commission expected at that time. Considering the long-term implementation, the city will need to pursue funding sources, negotiate and acquire the CSX rail line, and commence phase 1 engineering and design. The implementation and execution of the plan is expected to continue over a matter of years, with no final completion date determined.