City Creating Plan to Develop and Preserve Bay View
New area plan would create shared vision for future of neighborhood.
The new plan would amend the much broader Southeast Side Area Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in 2008 as part of a citywide planning effort.
“The number one issue is, of course, development,” said Dimitrijevic of concerns she hears from residents. Real estate developers have taken a growing interest in advancing projects in the neighborhood in the past decade.
The plan would identify catalytic sites for future development while making suggestions about scale and use of properties. Dimitrijevic said she also looked forward to developing a vision for street design and transportation.
Prior plans have explicit projects that stakeholders wanted, like the redevelopment of key properties or new parks, while also providing an inventory of existing sites.
“I think it will be easier for the city, the residents, this committee,” said the alderwoman, first elected in April. “Instead of being reactionary to certain developments, we have had some very large public debates over specifically what’s going on in the Bay View area, I think we can be visionary and talk about all matters, businesses, housing, environmental, we can build something better for all of us.”
Dimitrijevic said that engaging area residents would be more difficult given the pandemic, but that a virtual format could enable more people to participate.
Dimitrijevic’s predecessor Tony Zielinski had an explicit strategy of directing development to S. Kinnickinnic Ave., the neighborhood’s main street, and away from streets lined with single-family homes and duplexes.
Near the end of his term, while Zielinski was running for mayor, a proposal for two apartment buildings on S. Kinnickinnic Ave. pushed that strategy to its limits. The proposal calls for two buildings to not only replace a parking lot and vacant building, but also a handful of houses just off the main street. Community meetings involved shouting, but the proposal never advanced to a formal public hearing before the pandemic and council election cycle.
During Zielinski’s tenure multiple proposals were put forth to develop the Army Reserve site, multiple blocks off S. Kinnickinnic Ave., that the alderman opposed and DCD supported. The site is identified as a key project site in the 2008 plan.
A zoning change for a large, proposed mixed-use development at the north end of the neighborhood was approved in 2020 with Dimitrijevic’s support. But that project sits on a site identified for its redevelopment potential in another area plan, the Harbor District-forming Water and Land Use Plan. It is just outside of the boundaries of the new planning effort.
The Bay View plan will roughly follow the city-defined boundaries for the large south side neighborhood. It will run from Becher Street and E. Bay St. on the north to Holt Avenue on the south, from Lake Michigan on the east to the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks and S. Chase Ave. on the west.
Alderman Jose G. Perez, who represents the area to the west, pushed for bordering council members to be engaged in the process. Leichtling said that was a good suggestion.
An area planning process is currently underway for S. 13th St., the Crisol Corridor. The street sits on the border of Perez, Dimitrijevic and Ald. Scott Spiker‘s districts. Approved in early 2020, it is expected to be completed this spring.
The committee unanimously endorsed the Bay View proposal. The full council is scheduled to vote on the proposal on February 9th.
The existing 191-page Southeast Side Area Plan can be read in its entirety, including the two amendments, on the city website.