Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Bus Transit

Yes, It Can Be Done: 99 New Apartments With No Parking

4:39 PM CST on February 21, 2013

1601 W Division apartment tower
The apartment building in this rendering – currently under construction – is represented by the orange dot on Andrew Salzberg's transit and zoning map (inset). Photo by Robert Loerzel.

While I was browsing Andrew Salzberg's map showing how much development is allowed near transit stops, I noticed a dark spot  -- a site where a taller building is allowed -- at the southwest corner of Ashland Avenue and Division Street. Then I remembered the development underway there, the "1601 Tower," on the site of a shuttered Pizza Hut restaurant. The interesting thing about this 11-story, 99-unit building is that it will provide no car parking spaces for residents.

Less off-street parking improves walkability by reducing the traffic generated by a building while minimizing curb cuts and other disruptions of the pedestrian environment. It also keeps housing more affordable, because, as the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning puts it, "requiring large amounts of parking in new housing developments makes the housing more the cost of parking is built into the cost of each unit." While the 1601 Tower could have been better -- the three ground-floor retail tenants will include a bank with a drive-through and will come with some parking spaces for customers -- a taller, mixed-use residential building with little parking, near transit, is definitely a step in the right direction.

The parcel was "upzoned" in 2012 to allow for a taller residential building than what's permitted in the surrounding area. In an email newsletter a year ago, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno wrote: "This is exactly the kind of building that should be in this location, because of its proximity to the Blue Line. We had proposals for single-story commercial developments, which I rejected straight away." Curbed Chicago also credits the East Village Association for pushing for a parking-free development.

In siting the building so close to the 24-hour Blue Line, three higher-frequency bus routes (and a potential bus rapid transit route on Ashland), and the Division Street bike lane, developer Joe Buono made a city-friendly choice. He must feel confident the parking-free building will be able to lure future tenants in the highly-desirable neighborhoods of East Village and Wicker Park. Living car-free in the area is certainly possible: According to the U.S. Census, 16 percent of workers in the 60622 ZIP code don't have access to a car. Meanwhile, 4.4 percent bike to work; and 6.1 percent walk to work. (The citywide figures are 1.2 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.)

Perhaps the owner of the next door Wendy's parcel will see the potential of that lot and convert it to a denser use.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

Safe Streets Advocates: 1, NIMBYs: 0. After years of surreal opposition, CDOT finally begins building Dickens Greenway

After [checks watch] 4.5 years of stonewalling by some residents, yesterday the Chicago Department of Transportation started constructing the bike route.

October 3, 2023

Ald. William Hall (6th): The best way to reduce car dependency is make neighborhoods more walkable, profitable, and appealing

"If you want to see less car use, then make the proposition that it wouldn’t make sense to leave my neighborhood."

October 3, 2023

Advocates provide bikes to migrants, request help from CDOT to meet growing demand

Donation organizers say unless funds are freed up from a larger entity, bike distribution to asylum seekers is going to stay in crisis mode indefinitely.

October 2, 2023
See all posts