HOLLYWOOD STATION SUBAREA
The Hollywood Station is the easternmost of the three Metra stations in the Village of Brookfield. This station, often referred to as the Zoo Stop, serves the easternmost residents of the Village and Brookfield Zoo, which is located approximately a half-mile north of the station.
The area around the station is predominantly comprised of single-family residences; the residential street pattern in these neighborhoods resembles that of Riverside, with curving streets and landscaped medians. The north side of Brookfield Avenue between Rosemear and Woodside Avenues is the exception; along this block is a mix of uses ranging from multifamily housing to office and light industrial uses.
There are no vacant parcels along Brookfield Avenue in the Subarea, however, a few sites are underused leaving room for additional commercial and residential uses. The lack of vacant property and the low traffic counts in this area will prevent all but a few additional commercial uses to the area. Its proximity to the downtown and transit, however, make it attractive for additional residential units.
The current zoning designation for this area is C-6 Restricted Special Service District. The permitted commercial uses in this district are limited as the name implies. A gas station with a small convenience store or mini-mart, a use that is not appropriate for a pedestrian-oriented area, is permitted in C-6. Upper story residential units are permitted by right, but not other residential buildings types, such as town homes or duplexes. The parking requirement for residential development is two spaces per unit.
As previously stated, the majority of residential buildings in the Subarea are single-family detached residences; these structures are older homes that appear to be well maintained. The existing multi-family and single-family attached buildings on Brookfield Avenue are in need of some maintenance; they were developed in the mid-to-late 1900s and their façade materials make the buildings appear outdated. These buildings are all a maximum of two stories.
All of the non single-family residential buildings are one or two stories. Unlike the downtown or the area around the Eight Corners, the buildings in this area range in styles, façade materials, and age. All but two of the more modern structures are built to the street and have retained many of their traditional façade elements that make an area interesting for pedestrians. As with the multi-family and attached single-family buildings, the façade materials of several of the commercial buildings have become outdated and need to be updated.
Like the Brookfield Station Subarea, the majority of first time visitors will see this area while passing through on the train. It is important to create a positive first impression in the mind of these visitors to entice them off the train and into the neighborhoods, local cafes, and Zoo.
The primary street within the Hollywood Station Subarea is Brookfield Avenue, which connects the Subarea with the nearby Brookfield Station, a half-mile to the west. The BNSF railroad tracks run along the southern edge of this street. Hollywood Avenue, which runs north south, is the only crossing over the railroad tracks within the Subarea; the next closest crossing is Prairie Avenue. The rights-of-way within the study area are not as wide as other areas within the Village, however, the travel lanes for vehicles are wider than necessary increasing the distance pedestrians must traverse to cross the street.
Brookfield Avenue runs east west through the Subarea, but turns to the north near the Village’s limits, leaving eastbound travelers with a terminal view of the garages of Hollywood Motors Inc. The street is dominated by parking, both head-in parking for Metra and on-street parallel parking for the adjacent businesses and residences. As a result of the head-in parking along the train tracks, sidewalks only exists on the north side of the street.
Avenue is primarily a residential street. Hollywood serves as the first
leg of the Zoo Walk, the path visitors traveling by train take to the
Zoo. During peak months, the Hollywood Station Subarea serves many
pedestrians, including families and school groups.
During the public process, several residents commented on a lack of connection or linkage to the Zoo, ranging from poor wayfinding signs between the station and the Zoo, and a desire for a shuttle between the station and the Zoo and Zoo themed street furniture.
Brookfield Avenue and the surrounding residential streets experience limited traffic flow through the Subarea, so pedestrian flow is relatively unhampered. However, much of the pedestrian pathways are unrewarding, particularly along Brookfield Avenue. This is illustrated in the PedZoneSM Analysis diagram found at the end of this section.
As is evident by the PedZoneSM Analysis, the residential neighborhoods surrounding the platforms are rated as comfortable pathways. In these areas, pedestrians can walk uninterrupted along attractive single-family homes buffered by both landscaping and on-street parking. However, large sections of Brookfield Avenue are designated safe, but unrewarding pedestrian pathways. While these paths are not in conflict with vehicles, they are uninteresting or unrewarding as a result of setbacks or vacant buildings. A few curb cuts, potential locations of vehicle-pedestrian conflict, exist along Brookfield Avenue.
Conflicted paths also exist for commuters and Zoo visitors walking from the platform to the Zoo and to the surrounding residences. The pathways immediately surrounding the station are unrewarding or have pathways shared between pedestrians and vehicles. Given the importance of this area as a pedestrian-oriented subarea and a key link in connecting Metra riders with the Zoo, it is important to create as many pedestrian comfort zones as possible.
Over 160 on-street, non-commuter spaces exist within the study area; within the residential neighborhood many of these spaces require a residential permit to park between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. to deter commuters from parking in these areas. During business hours, on-street parking is usually available, particularly on the residential streets. The spaces on Brookfield Avenue between Rosemear and Woodside Avenues are well used on weekday evenings. On-street parking exists on Brookfield Avenue between this and the Brookfield Station Subarea.
Approximately 130 passengers board Metra at the Hollywood Station each day for their work commute. The vast majority of these riders are heading eastbound, as is also true of the other two Brookfield stations. Commuter parking is limited to fifty permit-only spaces. Over 60% of the Hollywood Station users walk to the station, which is not surprising given its location in the heart of residential neighborhood. The Hollywood Station ridership is not as high as the Brookfield Station or the average ridership of other Metra stations, as is shown in the ridership table in the Brookfield Station Subarea section. This is most likely due to the area’s isolation compared to the Brookfield Station, and the low-density housing surrounding the station. Some of the residents in and around the Hollywood Station may also use the downtown station to board as more trains stations there and parking is more plentiful. Pace does not have a stop within the Subarea, but Route #304 operates along Washington Avenue north of the study area.
The Hollywood Station is also known as the Zoo Stop and a designated pathway of about one half-mile exists from the train station to the Zoo. The ridership statistics mentioned above were taken in the fall and do not take into consideration that summer is the Zoo’s busiest time of the year, when ridership could be slightly higher. However, the majority of Zoo patrons do not take advantage of Metra to access the Zoo facilities. Zoo patrons either do not know that this travel mode exists, are not interested in walking the half mile to the Zoo, or elect to drive because they are coming with small children and/or large quantities of supplies, such as coolers and picnic blankets, and perceive the walk to be too laborious.
Redevelopment in and around the Hollywood Station Subarea will occur in phases, as constructing a new building or renovating a façade may be cost prohibitive in the near future. It is important to prioritize opportunities and work to achieve short-term changes, such as requiring pedestrian-oriented commercial signage, well-screened, landscaped parking lots, and wayfinding signs to the Zoo and other destinations in the Village. These smaller scale steps toward redevelopment can help build momentum toward larger scale projects. The Hollywood Station redevelopment plans can be found at the end of this section.
The permitted uses in the C-6 Restricted Special Service district are limited, more so than the residents at the public meetings desired, where such uses as a bookstore, small convenience store, and an arts and craft center were discussed. This zoning designation resulted from previous long-range plan designation, which many charrette participants believed was outdated. To achieve the vision of the Hollywood Station created at the public workshops, the current zoning regulations will have to be reviewed and revised.
Create an Overlay District
When revising the zoning designation for the Hollywood Station Subarea the intent of the pedestrian-oriented area should be considered; specifically any commercial development should foster a more active area that meets the needs of local residents and the patrons of the Zoo. Hollywood is very unique; particularly because of its proximity to the Zoo and the potential to attract Zoo visitors to the businesses, and neither C-5 Restricted Local Retail District nor C-4 Local Retail District adequately describe the area. An overlay district, which combines the most appropriate traits of each, should be created. Because of limited access to the area and the daily traffic counts, it is unlikely that the area will be a large retail or commercial center.
Encourage New Residential Development Along Brookfield Avenue
Given the transit access and close proximity to the downtown and the Zoo, the Hollywood Station is a desirable place to live. Residential development should be permitted and encouraged between Hollywood and Rosemear Avenues and east of Rosemear Avenue along Brookfield Avenue. Upper story apartments in new commercial buildings should also be encouraged. Increasing the number of residential units along Brookfield Avenue will help make the area appear more active during evening hours.
Establish a Set of Parking Standards Appropriate to a Pedestrian- and Transit-Oriented Zone
Parking requirements should take into consideration the pedestrian-oriented nature of the area around the Metra Station in a similar manner as in the Brookfield Station area. For residential units, one space per one- and two-bedroom units is appropriate, as many of these residents have most likely chosen to live in this location to take advantage of Metra to access their place of employment. The dedicated residential spaces should be located in the rear of the buildings or internal to the building.
Redevelopment of the Hollywood Station will require physical changes to both public and private spaces, including building façade and structures. The long-range redevelopment plan illustrates numerous changes to the buildings in the Subarea. Outdated façades and obsolete buildings should be renovated or redeveloped to provide additional commercial and residential space that creates a more active environment during business hours and in the evenings, while not disrupting the existing character of the area.
Create a Set of Design Guidelines to Inform New Construction and Renovations
Buildings with traditional façade elements were among the highest rated images in the Image Preference Survey taken during the first public meeting. Several prominent buildings, both commercial and residential, along Brookfield Avenue were developed without these elements and many meeting participants voiced a desire for any renovations to include more transparent horizontal banding, cornices, columns, and horizontally repeating window sills on the upper floors.
New buildings should be designed to incorporate these elements and should be built to the street with parking in the rear accessed from a side street or the alley. These buildings should be limited in height to 2 1/2- stories to match the existing single-family residential character of the area. These and other design elements are grouped and illustrated for building owners in a set of Design Guidelines. These Guidelines help shape redevelopment and renovations within an area. A set of Design Guidelines for pedestrian-oriented areas is included in this report.
Focus Redevelopment Efforts Along the Train Tracks
character also helps to create a positive visual image of an area,
which is important in attracting new businesses, patrons, and
residents. In the Hollywood area, the most visible parcels are those
along Brookfield Avenue. These key redevelopment sites are very visible
from the passing commuter trains and the platforms. Consequently, the
block between Hollywood and Woodside Avenues has several priority
redevelopment sites. Hollywood Motors, at the corner of Woodside and
Brookfield Avenues is also a key redevelopment site, because it serves
as the terminal view of those driving eastbound on Brookfield Avenue.
In the short term, gaps in the streetwall that result from parking lots, setbacks, or utility areas can be minimized with landscaped screening and decorative fencing.
The PedZoneSM analysis discussed previously in this report has many pedestrian pathways designated as unrewarding. Recognizing that the Hollywood Station is a key pedestrian area with links to the Zoo and the downtown, the redevelopment plans at the end of this section illustrate wider sidewalks and bulb-outs at intersections to clearly define the on-street parking and decrease the distance pedestrians and vehicles share a path. As the sidewalks are expanded the vehicular travel lanes are reduced from their current wider than necessary width, which also reduces crossing distances for pedestrians.
Design and Install Streetscape Enhancements
Streetscape enhancements such as new lighting, street trees, and other street furniture provide additional amenities to pedestrians and can help display the character of the area or a theme, making the pedestrian journey more rewarding. One of the highest rated images in the IPS was of a sidewalk completed with such streetscape enhancements. During the charrette workshop several residents suggested Zoo or animal themed streetscape amenities, similar to the shelters along the train platform, to connect the area’s identity with the Zoo.
Use the Zoo to Create an Identity for the Subarea
The SWOT analysis identified the greatest opportunity in the redevelopment process as making better connections between the Village, Metra, Pace, and the Zoo to promote public transit as the best mode of travel to the Zoo, in turn increasing the number of pedestrians in the Hollywood Station area and the number of potential patrons to the area’s businesses.
The Zoo Walk, which begins at the train station and follows Hollywood north to Parkview, should be more clearly marked along its half-mile route. This can be accomplished in several ways, including more pole-mounted signs, such as those that exist near the station, and creative markings on the sidewalk such as painted animal tracks.
Work with Metra, Pace, and the Zoo to Enhance Mobility Around the Zoo
The Village should work with Metra, Pace, and the Zoo to establish shuttle buses or a regular Pace route from the Hollywood Station to the Zoo for those with disabilities or small children, to develop better coordinated train schedules, and increase the frequency of transit service, especially during peak times, such as the summer Zoo season. Joint marketing programs should also be created between transit riders and area businesses, such as a discounted ice cream cone or coffee with a valid Metra pass and Zoo admissions ticket.
Circulation Around the Train Station
The station is the key to the redevelopment of the Hollywood Subarea. It brings thousands of potential visitors a day past the businesses and makes the area attractive to new residents and business owners. Strengthening the travel network around the station will make it more accessible and will potentially lead to an increase in transit riders.
Create Safe and Rewarding Pedestrian Pathways
The pedestrian network is enhanced through wider sidewalks and extending sidewalks to the downtown and along Brookfield Avenue to the east where they currently do not exist. Since the majority of commuters using the Hollywood Station walk to the station, it is important to create clear routes between the neighborhood, the downtown, and the station. These routes should also be rewarding, which can be achieved through streetscape enhancements and building redevelopment.
Creating the link between the Hollywood Station and the downtown along the north side of the tracks will require assistance from both Metra and the BNSF railroad to gain permission to use the railroad right-of-way in certain locations for the development of the path and to ensure it is developed with the right buffer or screening along the tracks. The impacts of these improvements are illustrated in the proposed PedZoneSM Analysis at the end of this section.
Increase the Quantity of Bicycle and Vehicular Parking
The addition of well marked, safe bicycle facilities may encourage some who currently access the station by automobile or on foot to bike instead. Replacing a block of currently public on-street parking west of Rosemear Avenue with Metra parking can create additional vehicular parking spaces. This parking is linked to the station through a sidewalk.
Use Wayfinding Signage to Highlight Important Community Assets
Creating new linkages will do a community no good if no one knows they exist. It is important to include clearly marked signage directing visitors to key locations such as the downtown shopping district, Village Hall, the Zoo, and area transit stations.