WPB on Division/Ashland Development


August 22, 2011

Dear Alderman Moreno:

This letter is to request the opportunity to review in detail the proposal currently being considered for the Pizza Hut property at the intersection of Division and Ashland streets. Very little is known about this proposal. The Pizza Hut property is a key component for achieving a long term vision for the Polish Triangle area and for the greater Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood(s) in general. This request is being made on behalf of the Guide Development Committee of the Wicker Park Bucktown SSA#33.

We understand that the former Pizza Hut property at Ashland and Division has been purchased and the developer is preparing plans. This property is unique as it is at the node for multiple public transit lines and serves as the "gateway" to an important public plaza and open space in our area, the Polish Triangle. The award-winning WPB Master Plan (adopted formally by the SSA Commissioners in 2009) was very clear in recommending that the parcels surrounding the Milwaukee/ Division/ Ashland intersection be zoned for higher density transit oriented development. In fact, the Master Plan specifically recommends a building of 4-10 stories (p. 165) on this site.

Any adopted plan for the Ashland and Division location should be consistent with the development vision articulated for the neighborhood in the WPB Master Plan. This includes recommendations for density and a mixed-use development that specifically accommodates both its pedestrian and transit-oriented customers. Our vision sees the site with significant bulk approaching the height, mass and quality of the landmark bank building to the north, forming an appropriate gateway to the vibrant communities to the west, and providing a consistent street wall to the east, framing the Polish Triangle as a cherished public plaza, a jewel in the neighborhood. Drive-thrus and other uses that attract automobiles to the site will increase traffic congestion and reduce pedestrian safety and comfort should be avoided, or cleverly provided for in the rear of the development with appropriate traffic controls.

The Master Plan's recommendations for this location was the result of extensive community and business input and we would encourage you to strongly consider it for all considerations for the site and in all discussions with potential developers.

Sincerely,

John Page, AICP
Co-Chair
Guide Development Committee
WBP SSA#33 Commissioner

Laura Weathered
Co-Chair
Guide Development Committee
WBP SSA#33 Commissioner, Co-Chair

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