A Huge Garage Doesn’t Belong on a Thriving Pedestrian Shopping Street

The proposed development, anchored by a Mariano’s, would pump more car traffic into the neighborhood, delaying transit and making streets less walkable and bikeable.

A parking lot at 3030 N Broadway in Lakeview, formerly the site of a Dominick’s grocery store, could soon be the home of a new development with a Mariano’s supermarket, an Xport Fitness health club, and four small retail tenants. This stretch of Broadway, designated as a Pedestrian Street by the city, is currently very walkable. The Active Transportation Alliance recognized this and included the street in its list of 20 Chicago thoroughfares that should be considered for pedestrianization. In the surrounding census tracts, 30 to 50 percent of the households don’t own cars.

Despite the car-lite nature of the neighborhood, Mariano’s is planning to build 280 parking spaces for the site. I was told this was the number required by the city’s zoning ordinance, but Mariano’s can request a zoning variance from local alderman Tom Tunney. So far they’ve chosen not to do so.

Dan Farrell, vice president of retail estate at Mariano’s, told DNAinfo that even though this location is easy to get to without a car, the supermarket and gym need “ample” parking. However, offering large amounts of free parking encourages people to drive, which fuels the demand for more parking and makes conditions worse for transit, biking, and walking.

Maureen Martino, director of the East Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, told me Mariano’s stores have already been well-received in several Chicago neighborhoods, but acknowledged that this particular location in a dense, residential area presents special challenges. “But parking is important and the zoning code mandate for 280 spaces should be followed,” she said.

Broadway in East Lakeview is a P-street and fits the criteria of a great street to walk on. Photo: Google Maps

Whether or not Mariano’s and the chamber feel the amount of parking is necessary, should the city go through with it, which would ensure that more car traffic will be generated? At issue is not only the walkability of the neighborhood, but also the effectiveness of transit: more cars on Broadway would slow down CTA buses, making transit a less convenient option. At a time when two other nearby developments will be constructing nearly 550 new parking spaces in Lakeview, permitting hundreds more spaces in the neighborhood would be poor planning.

Fortunately, this is the initial design for the development, so there’s room for improvement. Bennett Lawson at Alderman Tunney’s office confirmed that nearby residents have expressed concern about the high amount of parking, and these comments have been passed along to the developer. Because this is a planned development, it will have to pass approval from both the city’s planning and transportation departments, which may request that less parking be built. If the excessive number of spaces remains an issue, there should be future community meetings where you can voice your opinion on the subject.

  • Alex Oconnor

    And those people who live in / near this area have already made a choice where it is not necessary to own a car or multiple cars and super-majorities own either 0 or 1 car(s).

    These people have chosen an environment where there transportation options are not imposed on them by being forced to have to live a car-dependent lifestyle. Car dependency is not a choice; it is regulatory coercion.

    People near this development have ,made the choice to live in an area where such a choice to live car-free or car-light has not been extinguished by the beliefs by those such as yourself that seem to believe that a car is a necessary condition for living in this city. Stop trying to impose that condition.

  • laura

    Go to the Mariano’s at Halstead and Monroe if you actually don’t think there are more than 100 people in the store at once. The place is constantly packed and it takes about 15 minutes to even get into the parking garage….which is exactly what will happen if they cut parking here. Did anyone remember the polar vortex? Sure its nice to walk or bike with your laundry detergent and gallon of milk when it’s 75 outside, what about the other 6 months of the year when its miserably cold outside. Come on, we don’t live in Florida here. I don’t own a car and I walk to the grocery, however, I have my husband pick me up when I’m done, which I feel is probably more common than everyone thinks.

  • BlueFairlane

    How many people are buying groceries on Michigan Ave., State St., or 34th and Broadway?

  • Fred

    I lived without a car for 2 years and now live car-lite. Car-lite people drive to the grocery store.

  • Alex Oconnor

    As to your initial premise “Have car vs not have car is the only difference that matters. Whether you have 1 car, or 14… its the same.”

    That is simply false on its face.

    As to your second the census tracts within several blocks of the proposal typically fluctuate between 45-55% 0 vehicles. Some break over 60% 0 vehicles.

    So your second premise is also false.

  • Fred

    Well we will have to agree to disagree on the first point.

    “In the surrounding census tracts, 30 to 50 percent of the households don’t own cars.” -First paragraph, last sentence of the post these comments are attached to.

  • Alex Oconnor

    “Car-lite people drive to the grocery store.”

    Some do; many do not. And no one, at least I have not seen it, is claiming that there should be no parking component to the proposal just that the 280 is far too high.

  • Fred

    So what is a reasonable number then? And how do you come up with that number? Is the “280 is too high” a gut feeling, or do you have some sort of reasoning/science behind it?

  • Alex Oconnor

    You win for the most irrelevant post of the day.

  • Alex Oconnor

    These numbers are calculable. They would involve demand projections. The “free” aspect is troubling because if the asset, the parking is as valuable as proponents claim it is, then it will be over utilized.

    A reasonable demand projection tied to competitive pricing would yield more reasonable results. The scope of the projections are beyond the scope of this blog.

  • Alex Oconnor

    Irrelevant reply as the response was to the assertion

    “Congestion discourages driving. Lack of parking encouraging shopping elsewhere.”

    If you’d care to address that then be my guest; else quit being off topic.

  • 2_Hot-2=handel

    You win the most delusional award for a lifetime.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    So maybe there’s 150 people inside the store (grocery stores look really full with 100 people because there isn’t a lot of open space in them, so 3 people is a huge crowd in a grocer). At least 75 of them probably walked there. The gym maybe has 50 people at peak parking (with probably an occupancy of 100 or 120). what on earth are the remaining 125 parking spots for? That is way too many spots. I walked to the grocery store in the middle of the polar vortex, I just did it less often, as many people do.

  • Folks, please refrain from attacking other commenters. Future posts in this vein will be deleted. Thanks.

  • BlueFairlane

    How is it irrelevant? We’re discussing a specific type of shopping, which has very different requirements from the type of shopping in the high-end shopping destinations you list. Yes, you get lots of shopping by tourists in tourist locations, but these tourists typically are buying much smaller, much less bulky things. They’re not buying heavy, bulky groceries. If anything, it’s irrelevant and off-topic to bring up Michigan Avenue shopping in a grocery discussion.

  • oooBooo

    In a few months or years this will be held up as an example in opposing some other development. It was just last week when a retail area (with said Pedestrian street designation) with two parking garages was held up as a shining example of pedestrian friendly development.

    As to the topic at hand businesses are supposed to serve customers, not political agendas. When they start serving political agendas it is because they are now using the political process to make money rather than earning it by serving people’s needs and wants.

    People who bike and walk don’t need to play gerbil at a gym. Ever see a gym parking lot? Tons of cars. The typical eople who go to gyms drive there. Xsport knows their market better than anti-car bloggers.Plus parking turn over at a gym is slower than it is for shopping at a single store.

  • oooBooo

    Don’t you think enough pinky rings were kissed for this development already?

    Lawyers, engineers, architects, campaign contributions, and more all cost money. Weigh the costs and the benefits, then decide if its worth kissing the pinky ring and getting the variance or not.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    I live car-medium and walk to the grocer. Just saying.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    City Target? Walgreens State Street? Really?

  • In (mildly) his defense, the State Street Walgreens gets well over half its business from tourists and non-Chicago-residents (I used to work nearby and had friends working the registers there). A lot of them are staying at nearby hotels and buying stuff they need because they didn’t pack it.

  • Because, anecdotally, in my neighborhood, I’ve seen people struggling like salmon through horrible congestion to get to a strip mall, but deciding to walk instead if the place has no parking lot. When they live less than four blocks away.

  • Whole Foods always takes 1-1.5yrs to remodel existing buildings or build a new one, because they do a lot of re-engineering (for ADA and energy-efficiency, among other things; as well as making sure there are good customer bathrooms, which no older Dominick’s store had) and custom-building, as well as sourcing materials locally, which delays the process over airlifting in a pre-cut pre-set bundle from nationwide suppliers.

  • Social_werkk

    “People buy a car to use it,….” True but let’s not pretend people only have cars to go grocery shopping.
    I’d rather focus on improvements that need to be made to mass transit in order to get people to use their cars less or decide they no longer NEED to own a car.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    I Have a car, I don’t even drive it to the grocery store when its -20 out. I need the exercise. Last time I drove it to the grocer was because I went to pick a bunch of my friends up, and happened to need to go to the grovery store on my way home with my friends (Superbowl Sunday). Before that, the last time I drove to the grocery store in Chicago, was, uh, Never. (5 years).

  • alexfrancisburchard

    Well, sure, but many people only buy a car to leave the city occasionally, or make very late night trips. They don’t buy it to go to the grocery store, especially if they live near one.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    So, where’s the great big garage at City Target on State Street? huh? or at the MAcy’s on State Street, the biggest single store I know of in the city of Chicago? or Sears? or DSW? or every walgreens on State and Michigan, or the Treasure Island on Lake Shore Drive? or the Jewel at Grand and State? (it might have a garage, but I wouldn’t even know where to look for it myself – there’s certainly no internal connection to a garage.)

  • tooter turtle

    I drive a lot, going to work in the suburbs where there is just no other way. But at home in Chicago, I never have need of a car. That’s precisely why I chose to live where I do. It really makes me angry when people who do not live here want to impose car-dependency on me.

  • FWIW, Chicago health clubs in bike-friendly areas also usually have zillions of bicycles parked outside, assuming sufficient bike parking is provided. Even the ritzy East Bank Club has literally dozens of cycles locked to its racks on nice days. Perhaps if the city enforced its existing bike parking requirements for new construction with the same gusto as the car parking minimums, we see even more people choosing to burn a few extra calories on their way to the gym.

  • Karen Kaz

    In my current West Rogers Park neighborhood, there are three small grocers within four blocks of my house. None of them are foo-foo, though they do cater to the demographics of the neighborhood. Throughout the city I see groceries like Fresh Farms, Cermak Produce, Devon Market, Harvestime, etc do well with small parking lots and good transit access.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Great. I shop at Harvestime. I just don’t live nearby. I don’t have an hour and a half to get there by transit either. They don’t have every I want there either. You are free to choose where you live, where you shop, and how you get there. I’m not sure if I want someone making that deciscion for me.

  • oooBooo

    Zillions? I doubt it.A dozen, in a cherry picked spot, maybe. It would only be those bicycle riders, a minority to start with, who are interested in upper body workouts with weights or swimming. The basic fitness is provided by the bicycle use itself. Why ride a bike to a gym to ride a stationary bicycle or other gerbil machine as many do? Makes little sense unless it’s to use the place as a social club, which Xsport, a chain for the mundane masses probably doesn’t qualify as but “the ritzy East Bank Club” may.

  • 36 bikes is probably a realistic number for the EBC, and I’ve seen number in that ballpark at the Xport Fitness at 3240 North Ashland (granted, there’s a Whole Foods nearby) and the Lincoln Park Athletic Club, 1019 West Diversey, to name a couple. I used to be the guy who sited bike racks for the city, so I have some idea what I’m talking about. But you’re right, some documentation would be nice. Maybe I’ll do an Eyes on the Street post about this in the near future.

    While biking to a spinning class does seem absurd to me, lots of people who bike often for transportation like to do other things at the gym, such as yoga, swimming, basketball, etc. Other folks who would be unlikely to bike elsewhere, for fear of showing up sweaty or having to change out of athletic wear, do bike to the gym because those things aren’t barriers.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    When was the last time you pushed a stroller and pulled a granny cart in driving rain or snow?

  • Granted, I’ve got zero parenting experience. But I’m friendly with at least eight car-free families with young kids who got by fine during this tough winter using boots, bikes, buses, trains, taxis and car-share to get around. All of those choices seem more appealing to me than having to dig out parking spaces and keep a private car topped off with anti-freeze.

  • Matt R.

    Lakeview Athletic Club, just three blocks north of this proposed development, provides zero parking and is always packed with people. Residents in this neighborhood don’t need it.

  • oooBooo

    It’s amazing how some people can decide what others ‘need’.

    Think about it for a moment, seeing an opportunity you decide to put your life savings into opening a business. You know exactly what will attract customers to your business. You’ve done the research. You’re making the investment. Then a group of agenda driven people with their opinion of what people need decide to intervene. They use the government to prevent you from doing the things that will make your business profitable.

  • Lizzyisi

    The Lakeview Athletic Club–roughly half a mile from this spot–has several bike racks out front, which are always filled to capacity during gym hours.

    I’m appalled at this plan for that lot and surprised to hear that a street as unpleasant for pedestrians as Broadway is actually designated a pedestrian street. Aside from writing the Chamber of Commerce and the Alderman, what should residents who think bringing so much parking with this development will not improve the quality of life in the neighborhood do?

  • It couldn’t hurt to launch an online and/or IRL petition.

  • Lee Crandell

    I totally agree that we should let developers and businesses serve the
    market. Reduce the regulation and
    let the market decide! If developers and businesses really thought
    parking was so essential to their businesses, then there would be no
    need for a minimum parking zoning regulation, right? And politicians
    wouldn’t need to force developers to add more parking to their projects
    for political reasons. Ask most developers in Lakeview off the record, and they’ll tell you they only add the parking because they think they need it in order to get their project approved, not because they think spending the money on it and using valuable real estate for parking is a good investment. All of our city’s regulation begins with forcing the car agenda on developers and businesses, and yes, a driven group of people has an agenda to remove that burdensome over-regulation.

  • oooBooo

    Indeed. But many developers will decide to against building parking, especially for residential, because street parking exists. They will exploit the commons. A commerical development can less afford to do so because the hassle will drive some number of customers away. But that number can be estimated and balanced against parking costs.

    The reaction to problems is generally more government and more control, hence the parking minimums. These were not to encourage car use, they were to fix a problem of the commons being overused/exploited. Either the parking commons has to be eliminated or somehow structured to allow for only short term use to obtain a free market situation.

    Along with this roads and transit costs should be more clearly structured to be paid on a usage basis. that is the cost of transit be paid for the way it was over a century ago, at the farebox. Roads and parking could be done much the same way, if we are really interested in a voluntary market system.

  • Alex Oconnor

    Really that is news to me. I shop at a number of small independent grocery stores whose owners know their demographic and are quite responsive.

    I mean really shockingly good customer service for business that allegedly “could not compete” and are “out of business.”

    Or to paraphrase a masked hero…”I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.”

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