As the lead agency, the Village of Skokie undertook a massive revitalization of the Central Business District, with responsibility for orchestrating multiple phases of improvement projects. The Downtown streetscape improvements were just one piece of a much larger endeavor to reinvigorate the Downtown. Strategically identifying, prioritizing, planning, funding, staffing, and constructing each of the improvement elements and phases required a tremendous effort from Village leadership, as well as seamless cooperation from various municipal departments, community groups and consultants.
Coordination with and permitting through the numerous regulatory agencies was challenging, especially for the Station development: CTA, RTA, CMAP, FHWA, IDOT, ICC, ComEd, Nicor, and others. The CTA rarely interrupted train service during the Station project. Consequently, a CTA train passed the construction site and the construction workers every 12 minutes. Additionally, high voltage power lines run directly overhead of the CTA Yellow Line Station. Site constraints required that the walkway connecting the two Station platforms (station houses) traverses under a ComEd tower.
Construction of the Downtown streetscape improvements was significantly less hazardous by comparison; however, the safety of construction workers and the public, especially along the highly traveled Oakton Street, remained a high priority in this busy commercial district.
The results of the Downtown Reinvented project wrap up decades of dreaming, planning, and preparation- all of which began more than 40 years ago with the Village’s desire for a Downtown train station.
The final construction costs of the selected improvements, including upgrades to the water main along Lincoln Avenue and Oakton Street, were well within the Village’s anticipated budget. Given the close coordination between Gewalt Hamilton and Village staff, any pricing changes were immediately communicated and accommodated for in the budget.
The Village’s primary objective for the Downtown streetscape improvements was to support the initiatives of the new CTA Yellow Line Station by increasing the economic vitality of the Downtown, encouraging residents and commuters to take advantage of the amenities Skokie has to offer. The final improvements successfully support this endeavor by creating an enticing environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Aesthetic improvements and functional modifications, such as wider sidewalks, additional and accessible on-street parking, and landscape medians, have had the collective effect of establishing Downtown Skokie as the place to shop, dine, work, and play.