Lakeview Developer First to Use TOD Ordinance to Reduce Parking

The proposed apartment building overlooks the Paulina Brown Line station, and would increase density in a walkable neighborhood.
The proposed apartment building overlooks the Paulina Brown Line station, and would increase density in a walkable neighborhood. Rendering: Centrum Partners & Hirsch Associates

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.

  • Harry Johnson

    Now just wait for this project to get watered down by the neighborhood association. People who think they have the right to impose upon the property rights of others.

  • cjlane

    Um, they’re asking for a variance. That means the proposal is not within the “property rights” they bought (or are under contract for–whatever). They want to build an ‘as of right’, then everyone would need to shut it. But they want to (1) reduce parking, and (2) really increase the FAR from what the clear law allowed on the Land. I’m not an immediate neighbor, so I don’t think either change is a big deal, but it is certainly not part of the ‘property rights’ they bought *from the CTA* to build the bigger, less-parked version.

    Now, I live near a (long dead) project that needed variances, etc., and got quashed bc of neighborhood opposition, and the developer ended up doing the as-of-right maximum they could. The final project was, in my opinion, a total dog compared to the variance plan, to the determent of the streetscape. Maybe the original plan would have been as disruptive to the community as the antis asserted, but we’ll never know.

    On this one, I like the general plan, and the density (probably of their mid-range proposal most) in this spot, but wish it weren’t so damn plain and ugly. That rendering is an Oak Brook office box, not a Lake View apartment building on a prominent corner. I don’t love the yellow building on the NE corner, but it’s *way* better than this thing.

  • Adam Herstein

    “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.”

    I don’t think it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around it — it’s precisely because of “parking problems” that people don’t want to own a car.

  • The variance is to reduce the parking even further than the already allowed 50% reduction.

    The upzoning is to increase the FAR from currently allowable 31 units to the desired 48 units (and from four floors to seven floors).

  • Kyle Smith

    Let’s hope that Alderman Pawar supports this one. The Mariano’s at the Ravenswood Metra is a great development.

  • Chrissy Mancini

    I live down the street and fully support this project. The neighborhood NEEDS the density it will bring to support the businesses along Lincoln and Roscoe (Sadly, most of the storefronts on Lincoln sit vacant.) I think it’s a positive that there will be less land dedicated to parking and more land dedicated to people. People renting in the building are going to rely on it’s location right next to the el, and trends show that people are foregoing car ownership. Most developers in Chicago site that they’re required to build more parking than the demand, that about 60% of parking sits empty. Why drive up the cost of the development or the cost of the units by adding more parking.

    Residents automatically go to parking. But do we in Roscoe Village want to develop more parking or do we want more people to support our local business owners. I want more people. There is plenty of resident and metered street parking in RV that sits empty and there are five busses and an el stop.

    City Council passed the TOD ordinance precisely because of these issues. Let the ordinance work the way the alderman intended it.

    I am astonished that a proposal for a convenience store with 16 parking spaces was even considered for this site. Thanks to the alderman for shutting that down. It would have been bad property values.

  • duppie

    This appears an ideal location for car free living.

    It is not just about access to the Brown line, but also about nearby supermarkets (Whole Foods, and soon a Target), and entertainment (bars, restaurants, gym) etc. This location does seem to have it all, including future access to the Ashland BRT.

    Lets hope the neighborhoods NIMBYs don’t water it down too much.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Anything that is now built in Chicago that goes over 4 floors usually ends up as a PUD (Planned Unit Development). Once you have a PUD, everything is negotiable. Yes there are FARs, front, rear and side setbacks, height limits, etc. but the city may determine that 2 out of the nine parking spaces have to be handicapped accessible. The city may also say they need an even further setback from the EL do to noise reflection. The developer may say yes, but we need another floor to make up for it. And back and forth it goes.

    This is a good place for a TOD. However, once you kick the door open for a building that tall, you then can get a domino effect of nearby property owners seeing how they can maximize their ability to sell off their property for larger sized buidings.

    There will be some folks who will say, TOD all the way. However, once this happens you will definately change the fabric of the street. But don’t be surprised if you get push back from people who like the neighborhood feel of the old architecture. There will be “facade-ectomies” whereby developers save the front on the building and build higher with a set back for the higher floors. This is either done well, or done horribly.

    Yes there are some tall buildings in the area (Weibolts old building and the one on the opposite corner. But the majority of the street does not go above 4 floors.

    I’d be interested to see what is going to be on the north side of this building facing the train station. If it is a solid wall, that might be pretty ugly and cold. If it is windows, the tenants may tire of hearing the recorded announcements every few minutes from EL.

  • TL

    While the design is rather ho-hum, increased residential and commercial density in close proximity is exactly what Chicago needs

  • Don’t forget the Lakeview YMCA (which is why I end up going through that intersection regularly), just a few blocks south and east.

  • duppie

    What does FAR stand for?

  • Jim Mitchell

    Floor Area Ratio: The square footage of all the floors of a building divided by the area of the parcel of land it’s built on.

  • Nathanael

    “maximum FAR” restrictions, if you think about it, are never ever justifiable. But they’re very common in antiquated 1950s zoning codes.

  • Nathanael

    I advise properly sound-insulated windows. They *do* exist. Developers just cheap out by not using them. They’re also temperature-insulated, so you’re more likely to get them if the developer goes for LEED certification or something similar.

  • cjlane

    “(Sadly, most of the storefronts on Lincoln sit vacant.)”

    This isn’t true. There certainly are too many vacancies, but it is nowhere near 50%.

  • Chrissy Mancini

    I should have clarified that most of the storefronts on the east side of Lincoln are vacant, with the closing of the Chicago Photography Center and Caravan Beads this month. The density and foot traffic generated by this project will support those small businesses.

  • cjlane

    Brundage Building is a tough space–the triangles are not great for most ‘modern’ businesses.

    The Ark vacancy is a killer–but that just changed hands in November, with the buyer an entity related to a Southport property owner. So, there probably is a plan for the space–if not necessarily a local small biz plan.

    The Caravan Beads building (with the vacant Lakeview Art, the tobacco shop and the cleaners) also changed hands last fall. I had been under the impression (from various sources) that the owners had been trying to get rid of tenants–at least with longer leases. Seems like a likely redevelopment.

  • Chrissy Mancini

    I didn’t know the Ark had a buyer. That’s great news. I know from the dry cleaner in the old Caravan Beads building that the owner was trying to raise rents, I thought because they wanted to get rid of the tenants to sell the building. Not sure though. I just received an email last week that the new Caravan Beads (in the new location) was closing. Sad to see them leave.

  • Given the adjacency to the Paulina station platform (as in right next to), I would have much preferred our open space proposal. to a building.

    Considering all the underdeveloped properties on Lincoln Avenue, and the lack of public open space in Lakeview, there isn’t a strong case to have a building exactly in this spot. While I am, of course, in favor of the density and parking reduction proposed here, I would have liked to have seen the Paulina station become more of a public hub with denser developments around it.

  • cjlane

    “what is going to be on the north side of this building facing the train station”

    Tall first story, and then glass above. Drawings here (NOTE: large pdf):

  • Aaron M. Renn

    I used to live two blocks from there – and car free for over a year of it. I don’t think there’s huge demand for car free living in this area. Some, but clearly closer to the lake is more ideal. It’s not as convenient as even the Southport corridor. One reason they can probably get away with this is that there’s ample street parking the area. I would suspect the bulk of people who don’t ante up for parking will have cars. In my old building, we had more than one space per unit, but there was a clear shortage. It was condo so higher demand.

  • What’s the open space deficit in Lakeview compared to other neighborhoods?

  • According to our LAMP study, Lakeview has .2 acres per 1,000 persons. The ideal amount is 2 acres per 1,000. We did not study what the other Chicago neighborhoods have. Comparatively, NYC has an average of 1.5 acres per 1,000 persons.

  • I think this is a great argument for supply/demand parking. The zoning ordinance should have a MAXIMUM parking ratio, eliminating the required minimum. If the developer would like to build less parking based on market analysis they should be able to. All the things we like about cities start with establishing a comfortable density.

  • The developer has proposed 1 accessible car parking space.

  • This developer is not aiming for LEED certification but is planning to install these features (copied verbatim from Pawar’s custom zoning change request form the developer submitted):

    Green roofs to help reverse heat island effect
    Energy efficient mechanical systems
    Local landscape materials
    Low water usage fixtures
    Energy Star appliances
    Exteror walls and window exceeding ASRAE standards
    Mitigation of contaminated soils to residential standards
    Re-charge station for electric vehicles
    Lighting control systems for common areas
    Day lighting to interior of units.

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  • cjlane

    Linky to the redevelopment, in progress, and to come:

    Looks like the Ark building and the SuVan’s building are going to remain, but be substantially redone, while all the single story north of SuVan’s will be torn down and replaced. Not bad.

  • T.G. Crewe

    What ever happened to this proposal?

  • The height and parking spaces were reduced. It’s likely just going through city administration approval processes at zoning and buildings. Look for demolition permits of the Dunkin Donuts building on my Chicago Cityscape website for an indication on when it’s going up.

  • T.G. Crewe

    I was talking about the Paulina station not the Belmont TOD, although I am looking forward to that D&D going away.


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