Woonerf on Winthrop
A Woonerf on Winthrop
Two years ago, the 6300 N Kenmore re-opened as the reimagined St. Ignatius Community Plaza. Now, the University is working with the community to recreate the improvements to 6300 N. Winthrop.
While Loyola owns all but one of the properties on the street, the University has no intentions on closing the street to traffic in the same way as 6300 N. Kenmore. The current proposal creates a “Woonerf” on Winthrop, between West Sheridan Road and Rosemont Avenue, that improves traffic conditions, widens pedestrian and bicycle paths, and adds two new public amenities and landscape with attractive visual elements.
The Dutch word, “woonerf” (pronounced VONE-erf), or living street, is used as a shared space without sidewalks, traffic lights, or signs. It’s intended to lower traffic and speed limits and allow pedestrians to use streets in tandem with motorists and bikers . Woonerfs are originated in the Netherlands and have trickled their way into other European streets and the United States.
Loyola’s design creates a piazza with statue at the north end, with a standing zone for deliveries and 20ft wide driving lane, able to accommodate large vehicles and snow plows during winter months. Six foot paved walkways on the east and west sides would create a protected shared bike and pedestrian thoroughfare. In some areas, a 10 ft. buffer of trees and shrubs serve as a natural barrier between cars and pedestrians. The current design provides five potential loading areas on the street, which will serve as loading zones.
In addition to street, pedestrian and bike lane improvements, the university intends to add three sand volleyball courts and three tennis courts where the former Wincrest Nursing home and Creighton Hall once stood. These amenities would be privately managed, but open to the public.
Since spring 2015, Summur Roberts, Loyola’s director of Community Relations, hosted 19 community meetings with 80 area residents to present the project solicit feedback about the project which has been overwhelmingly positive. “Neighbors are thrilled with the outcomes of improvements made to the St. Ignatius Community Plaza including the added green space, bikeways and traffic calming,” says Roberts. Concerns raised pertain only to the lack of free overnight street parking for visiting guests of local residents, with most residents admitting to having access to parking in their building for personal vehicles. Several area buildings and many on Sheridan Road, offer overnight parking for a small fee to the public.
The community process will continue at the direction of Alderman Osterman. A community meeting on the project is anticipated this fall.