Chicago Alfresco program in partnership with 15 community organizations for outdoor dining

CHICAGO (WLS) – Fifteen neighborhoods will participate in the first round of the Chicago Alfresco program, the city’s initiative to open certain streets for eating, walking and biking.

Last year, the city gave special permits for bars and restaurants to set up tables in closed streets or parking lots. Now the city is giving grants to help create more permanent outdoor spaces for dining, arts and community events.

Chicago neighborhoods have different ideas from Chicago Al Fresco. In Humboldt Park, along Paseo Boricua, it’s also art and culture.

“Savor delicious Puerto Rican cuisine, you will have the opportunity to buy products from the Puerto Rican people, and you will be able to see all the murals and history,” said Nadya Henriquez Lowry, of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Artists will paint five murals on Division Street. One of them, Cristian Roldan-Aponte, already has work in the community.

“It’s going to have an impact on the experience of people: how people come to the neighborhood, how they feel about it, how they get involved,” said Roldan-Aponte.

Globally, Chicago Al Fresco provides $ 2.3 million in grants, which will be distributed among 15 neighborhood organizations. The East Lakeview Chamber of Commerce is planning upgrades.

“Can we put decorative fencing, can we make planters, can we make this a little better than what we’ve been in the past,” said Maureen Martino, CEO of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce .

Al fresco dining will close Belmont’s Broadway in Wellington two weekends a month. You might even hear some tunes.

“We are looking to partner with some artists in the Chicago area because they are unemployed like everyone else,” Martino added.

While some residents have traffic issues over the road closure, others are happy to dine al fresco, mingle with friends, and take a stroll.

“I know the traffic is terrible around these days, but at the end of the day I think it’s a really cool thing that they offer,” said Tommy Mai, a resident of Lakeview.

“We love it,” said Michael Bleb, a resident of Lakeview. “We don’t drive a lot and I know traffic is a concern for a lot of residents, but for us we have an almost 2 year old who loves to run in the streets. We love to see it. We think it’s good for business. “

The 15 community organizations that partner with the city are:

– Austin Chamber of Commerce (W Madison St. and W Chicago Ave.)
– Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (W 47th St. & S Honore St.)
– Grand Chatham Initiative (E 75th St., E 79th St. and E 71st St.)

– Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce (N Broadway St.)
– Little Village Community Foundation (Perez Plaza)
– Logan Square Chamber of Commerce (Woodard Plaza)
– Morgan Park Beverly Hills (103rd Street and Wood Street)
– CDC northwest side (W Fullerton avenue and W Grand avenue)
– Puerto Rican Cultural Center (W Division St.)

– Rogers Park Business Alliance (W Jarvis Avenue and N Glenwood Avenue)
– South Shore Chamber of Commerce (E 71st St.)
– South Chicago Parents & Friends (S Commercial Ave.)
– Uptown United (W Argyle Street)
-West Ridge Chamber of Commerce (W Devon Ave.)
– Woodlawn Chamber of Commerce (E 62nd St. and S Ingleside Ave.)

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