With Chicago restaurants scheduled to reopen outdoor dining on June 3, the city is providing additional options for businesses that may not have access to patios or sidewalk seating. This afternoon Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that as part of an initiative that the city is dubbing its "Our Streets" plan, the Chicago Department of Transportation will launch a pilot program that will close six roads in major commercial corridors, allowing restaurants to set up tables and chairs in streets and parking lots. The six pilot areas, which were selected based on "location, proximity to local businesses and residents, and evaluation of the impact on traffic," are listed below:
- Chatham: 75th Street from Calumet Avenue to Indiana Avenue
- Lakeview: Broadway from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway
- Little Village: 26th Street from Central Park to Harding Avenue
- Rush and Division: Rush Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street
- Near West Side: Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue
- West Loop: Randolph Street from Expressway no further than Elizabeth Street
Mayor Lightfoot stressed that the street closures are intended to provide space for seated dining only, explaining that "We cannot allow these open streets to turn into street festivals." Restaurants and bars that serve food in the pilot areas will be able to apply for an Expanded Outdoor Dining permit beginning on June 1, allowing for the temporarily use streets or private property for outdoor dining and drinking until 11pm each evening.
While the outdoor dining pilot was the focus of today's press conference, Mayor Lightfoot also mentioned that the city's open streets plan will also include the closure of residential streets to "allow our residents as much space as possible to maintain the safe physical distancing needed as they leave their homes and go about their daily lives." Earlier this week, Streetsblog Chicago uncovered permits for several shared streets on the city's North Side (including sections of Palmer Street and Leland Avenue) that will close roads to traffic to make room for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. Lightfoot promised a formal announcement about shared streets throughout the city in the coming days.
The six street closures announced today should spur restaurants and bars along the affected corridors to consider offering outdoor dining, creating six dining destinations that will likely be among the hottest reservations for anyone interested in frequenting some of Chicago's best restaurants when the city transitions to its next reopening phase on June 3.
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