New rental housing planned next to the Paulina Brown Line station in West Lakeview at Lincoln Avenue and Roscoe Street is the first known development to take advantage of the transit-oriented development ordinance passed in 2013 that reduces parking minimums for buildings near transit stations.
Centrum Partners is proposing a four- to seven-story building abutting the ‘L’ station, with 31 to 48 apartments and nine parking spaces within the building. Also proposed is a 6,000 first floor retail space.
Centrum is the same company looking to build the recently proposed car-oriented Walgreens in Albany Park, but it’s Walgreens that’s insisting on the unwalkable corner parking lot.
Without the TOD ordinance, Chicago zoning code would have required one parking space per unit at the Paulina development — three to five times more than what Centrum will have to build. That means the developer can devote more space to housing people, not cars. And it will also help keep traffic from increasing in an already walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly neighborhood that has a good amount of retail and a major grocery store.
The ordinance allows residential developments within 600 feet of transit stations to build half as much parking as would otherwise be required — 18 to 27 spaces in this case. Centrum needs an “administrative adjustment” to get down to nine spaces. Centrum has asked 47th Ward Alderman Pawar for an 85 percent parking reduction, as well as an upzoning to allow for 48 housing units.
Pawar, who has an atypically transparent community involvement process for zoning changes, told DNAinfo that “a one or two-story building would be ‘inappropriate’.” He also pointed out that building few parking spaces for so many units is novel, but he appears open to it. “We’re seeing a lot of people moving near transit so that they don’t have to own a car,” he told DNAinfo. “It’s hard to wrap your head around it when there are already parking problems in the area.”
Paul Sajovec, chief of staff in the 32nd Ward, which currently contains the property (under the 2015 ward map, this will change), said that their office has been pushing for mixed-use and higher density development. “We’ve received interest from developers who proposed stores with one floor and 16 parking spaces, to attract franchises like 7-11, a design we don’t want for this location.” He said that the developers had the right to build that way, but the ward office made such a stink about it that builders withdrew the car-oriented proposals.
One more thing about the TOD ordinance: When taking advantage of its lower parking allowances you must build one bicycle parking space per car parking space. Hopefully Centrum goes beyond that and builds enough bike storage for 31 to 48 apartments.
After Pawar collects more feedback from community organizations he will hold a public meeting about the development. It would be encouraging to see him support the higher-density range of Centrum’s proposal.