Core Concepts

The creation of this plan involved a comprehensive approach based on public involvement, market analysis of residential and commercial uses, an analysis of physical conditions and land use relationships, and preliminary evaluation of traffic circulation and access. These data, combined with input from the public participation process, formed the basis for the following core concepts.

Redefine Downtown Skokie

As we move forward into the 21st century, Skokie is changing and will continue to change. Part of this change includes the expansion of the boundaries of Downtown Skokie due to additional activity centers that either did not previously exist or that now exist in a different way, such as transit hubs at Oakton Station and the Oakton Street and Lincoln Avenue intersection, jobs at the IS+TP, shoppers at retail anchors, and users of facilities like Oakton Park, government offices, and Oakton Community College. The purple line on the map defines the expanded Downtown Skokie.

Connect the Different Parts of the Area

Many of these new activity centers have barriers limiting their connectivity. These barriers might be physical, such as a high traffic road, high tension power lines, or lack of walkways. Others might be psychological, like not perceiving that Oakton Community College is only ¼-mile walk south of Oakton Street along Lamon Avenue or that the IS+TP is as little as a 900-foot walk to the corner of Brown Street and Lincoln Avenue down Warren Street. Establishing these connections will bind together the neighborhood as a unique place. The broad bronze dashed arrows show new needed connections.

Orient Development around Transit

Transit oriented development (TOD) refers to residential and commercial centers designed to maximize access by transit and non motorized transportation. A TOD neighborhood has a center with a rail or bus station, surrounded by relatively high-density development, with progressively lower-density spreading outwards. The highest building heights and concentration of jobs and residences are closest to the transit station, surrounded by several blocks of lower building heights, followed by townhouses and small-lot single-family residential, with larger-lot single-family housing located furthest away.

For this plan, guides of about 2,000 feet (about a 10-minute walk) from rail station entrances for Oakton Station and the bus transfer stops at Oakton Street and Lincoln Avenue were used. This development pattern decreases car trips and increases trips on public transit, walking, or biking. The pink circles with T (train) and B (bus) represent transit hubs and the pink dashed lines show 2,000-foot distances from those hubs.

Increase & Renew the Housing Stock

Appendix D - Multifamily Housing Study in the Comprehensive Plan identified serious obstacles to new housing investment in older multifamily residential areas, including major discrepancies in actual and permitted densities per acre, parking, and stormwater control. Without addressing these concerns housing stock will continue to age without the continued investment needed to maintain quality housing. Downtown 2020 reported that Downtown Skokie could absorb 800 to 1,600 additional housing units by 2020. Adding more residential units Downtown will support transit usage, decrease auto dependence, improve the retail base, and add to the excitement and liveliness of Downtown.

Create a Healthy Retail Environment

Creating an environment that promotes retail uses benefits the entire community by providing jobs, goods, services, social interaction, and sales tax revenue. Downtown 2020 reported that Downtown Skokie could absorb 250,000 to 300,000 sq. ft. of new or redeveloped retail space, 75% of which will replace older, outdated space. This new retail would be supported in part by new employment and new housing throughout Sector A.

Downtown 2020 also studied the current retail mix and recommended uses that should be encouraged, like promoting our ethnic diversity with ethnic groceries and restaurants, co-locating uses to strengthen Downtown activity generators, such as coffee shops, entertainment and other specialty food uses, and targeting other underrepresented uses. Commercial ground floor uses on "retail streets" must be reserved for retail and other service uses open to customers. Ground floor offices, automotive uses, and drive-throughs that cause activity gaps in pedestrian areas should be limited and, in some areas, prohibited. Upper story uses can be other commercial uses, like office or retail uses, or residences. The maroon dashed lines on street frontages show areas designated as "retail streets."

Promote Job Creation

More people working Downtown increases the potential for purchasing goods and services, particularly during the day. The development of the IS+TP, which will contain up to 6,000 jobs, and other employment opportunities that arise will support retail and residential markets. To promote a healthy retail environment, non-retail employment locations that do not complement retail sales should be located above the first floor off of retail streets.

Enhance Open Spaces

The Village should work towards increasing open spaces when opportunities arise, similar to the open spaces secured at the IS+TP and the pending purchase of a portion of the Union Pacific right-of-way for part of the Skokie Valley Trail, a multi-use recreational bike and pedestrian pathway that will eventually connect Skokie, Wilmette, Glenview, Northfield, and Northbrook. Other methods such as use of roofs for gardens and recreation, setting aside places for outdoor dining and public plazas, and review of current zoning requirements to add open space should be explored. The green dotted line represents the proposed location of the Skokie Valley Trail.

Keep the Pedestrian in Mind

With almost 10% of Skokie households reporting having no motorized vehicle in the 2000 census, attention needs to be given to pedestrian movement. Part of moving people is the physical environment in which they move. Design of sites, buildings, sidewalks, streets, lighting, and other amenities like plazas or outdoor dining areas affects the likelihood that people will walk in, through, or by a particular location. Some of these design features include locating buildings close to sidewalks, being able to look into commercial buildings through transparent glass at ground level, having scattered public spaces accessible and seen from sidewalks, limiting driveway curb cuts across public sidewalks, and prohibiting off-street parking in front of buildings and at intersection corners while encouraging on-street and behind-building parking.

Support the Arts & Culture

Downtown Skokie hosts the annual Skokie Festival of Cultures, is home to the IMODS-sponsored Backlot Arts District, the newly renovated Skokie Theater live music venue, and the Skokie Farmers' Market, and will be the site of new public arts installations funded through a new building permit fee. The Village will continue to support the arts, increase cultural events, and embrace and promote our cultural diversity.

2020 Plan Sector A  Map