The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association (OTMRA) in collaboration with SSA #48 Old Town have engaged The Lakota Group and Community Land Use and Economics Group to develop a corridor plan for Wells Street, one of Old Town’s most vibrant commercial strips. This plan will focus on enhancing the quality of life for residents, merchants, and visitors and provide stability for new and existing businesses. Wells Street Corridor Plan will focus on business attraction, improvements to the built environment, corridor branding and placemaking, and safety, among other topics.

Old Town is one of the Chicago’s most recognizable and unique neighborhoods, and the Wells Street Plan aims to build off of that and beyond looking into the future. In order to get there, the plan will focus on three main tiers:

1. Placemaking Design Initiatives to help bring cohesiveness to Wells Street and add to its vibrant and creative scene. That includes temporary activations, public art, and wayfinding and signage among others.

2. Economic Vitality focusing on retaining and growing small businesses, taking into account the global pandemic and its repercussions.

3. Built Environment, which includes curb appeal, sidewalks, buildings, streetscape, public spaces, storefronts facades, with a focus on land use scenarios and potential future development.


Wells Street Corridor Plan is an 8 months planning process, which started late 2020 and will wrap up close to the end of 2021. The process includes three planning phases, as follows:

Phase 1: Engage and Discover
First phase of the planning process creates the foundation for the plan, focusing on analyzing the district’s issues and opportunities. This phase also engages stakeholders and residents to solicit a great value of insight and feedback. This phase is summarized in an existing conditions report, State of Wells Street.

Phase 2: Envision and Empower
Second phase of the planning process focuses on creating design alternatives, land use scenarios, wayfinding concepts, proposing streetscape improvements, and developing market strategies.

Phase 3: Implement
Third and final phase entails refining concepts, costs for the different design alternatives, and strategizing on funding sources and potential partners. This final phase concludes in the Wells Street Corridor Plan.

As part of this initiative, OTMRA will undertake a meaningful, all-inclusive public participation program that engages community stakeholders, residents, and property owners, among others. An open and transparent public engagement effort will help build the trust and optimism needed in cultivating local support to envision the future of Wells Street and Old Town neighborhood. There will be several ways you can share your inputOver the coming months, OTMRA will conduct stakeholder interviews, post an online survey questionnaire, and host a series of virtual information meetings.  

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State of Wells Street, existing conditions report, is ready for your review! Download the PDF and enjoy the easy read.

What's your vision for Wells Street? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts!

The Lakota Group

We bring creative solutions that inspire action and result in beautiful, people-driven places. Our firm has 27 years of experience in urban design, planning, landscape architecture, and historic preservation. Our mission is to create plans that build connections between people, their environments, and their history.

The Lakota Group will be leading the Wells Street Corridor Plan.

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CLUE Group

The Community Land Use and Economics Group is a small, specialized, consulting firm that helps community leaders create vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. Our work focuses on developing forward-looking economic transformation strategies.

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