by Michael R. Allen
Today was a lovely day on the near north side of our fair city. At 14th Street in Old North, the two-block former pedestrian mall now has a paved street, full sidewalks and street signs. With the addition of street lights, all will be set for the final opening of 14th Street in the heart of the neighborhood.
Up in Hyde Park, as I attended a meeting I heard the clamor of tools around 19th and Mallinckrodt streets. The sounds were unmistakable, and plainly beautiful to hear. They came from two buildings on each side of 19th street in block south of the park. Eliot School LP is rehabilitating these 19th century brick buildings for housing. The long-vacant single family home shown here will hold multiple families.
Another vacant four-family will remain in service as a multi-family building, maintaining the residential density that enlivened Hyde Park in the past. Nearby, Salisbury Avenue is getting new sidewalks and street lights. The Salisbury project is in full swing as well, causing traffic to back up around the entrance to the McKinley Bridge. Let no one mistake the sidewalk work for anything other than a catalyst for future growth. Salisbury offers potential for infill construction and rejuvenated mixed-use buildings. Apartments in solely residential buildings are a great part of neighborhood life, but not the only one. The buildings being rehabbed now will someday join a wave of mixed-use buildings old and new on one of the north side’s most humanely-scaled commercial streets. Both 14th Street and Salisbury are central to neighborhood economy, and while much has been renewed around them their historic function — facilitating exchange through commerce — is fragile.