Thanks to Pressure From Community, Lakeview Will Get Real TOD

P:\Multi-use\13023 3200 North Clark\DESIGN\3200 N CLARK - NEW RENDERINGS - OFFICIAL RENDERINGS (1)
Renderings of the latest, eight-story design for the Belmont-Clark tower.

After Lakeview residents argued that a huge number of parking spaces was inappropriate for a building located only one block from a Red Line stop, the latest design for the Belmont-Clark tower is much less car-oriented. While the original design featured 100 rental units and 116 parking spots, the new one has 90 units but only 39 spots. That’s a major win for the community, since it will greatly reduce the amount of car traffic generated in this dense, transit-rich neighborhood.

The developer, BlitzLake Capital Partners, touted the original design as transit-oriented development because it took advantage of Chicago’s 2013 TOD ordinance. Only 50 residential parking spaces were included, instead of the usual 1:1 parking ratio. However, it was absurd to call that design TOD, since it had an additional 66 parking spots for the retail space, when it would have been possible to get an “administrative adjustment” allowing zero commercial parking. In effect, the company was choosing to build more than twice as much parking as required.

In March, the developer released the third revision of the plan for the $50 million tower on the current “Punkin’ Donuts” site. It shortened the structure from 11 stories to ten, but boosted the number of rental apartments from 100 to 110, while lowering the number of offstreet parking spaces from 116 to 74. Retail was reduced to two floors or commercial space. That was a step in the right direction, but still way too much parking for a neighborhood where it’s very easy to live without a car.

On Friday, DNAinfo reported that BlitzLake had come up with a fourth version of the plan. The new design reduces the height to eight stories, reduces the number of apartments to 90, and lowers the number of parking spaces by 44 percent. 39 spaces is actually fewer than the 45 spots required under the TOD ordinance, so it appears a zoning variance would be needed. The new plan includes 50,000 square feet of retail, which would likely include a grocery store, plus indoor bike parking.

“Since it’s TOD, there was a huge call from the community to have less [car] parking,” explained Erin Duffy, spokeswoman for local alderman Tom Tunney. “It’s going to be a building where people can easily access trains and buses, and there is also tons of foot traffic and plenty of bike lanes in the area, so it wasn’t necessary to have so much parking. Alderman Tunney worked with residents and the developer to come up with a design that’s a better fit for the neighborhood.”

In a comment on the DNA article, Belmont Avenue resident Lee Crandell applauded the parking reduction.  “Most of the successful businesses in the neighborhood have zero off-street parking,” he noted.

The last public input meeting on the project takes place on Wednesday, May 14, 6 p.m., in the 19th Police District’s community room, 850 West Addison.

  • JacobEPeters

    Now if only we could get this ratio of parking for the Wrigley adjacent development a block from the Addison Red Line station. No need for that much parking.

  • Lizzyisi

    Or to the planned Mariano’s further down Broadway! I have not seen any announcements for meetings on that proposal, although I’ve already sent my letters to the Chamber of Commerce and the Alderman.

  • I wonder why they keep removing rental units? Rental units are heavily demanded in that neighborhood. Some constituency must be arguing the developers down, but I don’t know who’d want to.

  • Mishellie

    Probably people who think that people who rent apartments are rabble rousers and should just pull themselves up by the bootstraps, grow up, and buy a house already.

    My guess…

  • Jim

    Good luck renting those apartments when they run out of parking spaces. But then again, people like john think they know what’s best.

  • celebrate good times

    We did it Chistreets!!!

  • James

    What do they say about those that don’t understand history?

    Before there was a parking minimum, there was no parking minimum (duh!)……and there was chaos. Only the shortsighted would advocate for a return to that

  • I don’t necessarily know what’s good for renters, but they do. That’s why the new 11-story Division/Ashland tower, with zero onsite parking for residents, is completely rented. Belmont-Clark is almost as close to transit, so the developer should also have no problem finding tenants who don’t need onsite parking.

  • oooBooo

    I appears to me to be a case of projection. Because people don’t take the time to learn things they make assumptions based on their own motivations. Thus it is assumed that parking minimums were created to encourage car use, when the reality is that it was a patch on use of a commons, in this case street parking.

    Now it seems that the residential parking permit system will be used in combination with continuing to restrict the creation of private parking to keep people who live in these buildings carless.

  • oooBooo

    As the outside forces restrict how many parking places can be created, the business case for the building changes with it. Also the present economic conditions and forecasts change as time goes on.

    The point is to make money by pleasing customers, not please people with political agendas and desires to shape how other people live. But political power means they need to be pleased too, and thus what constitutes a profitable building changes.

  • Lee Crandell

    You’ve got this backwards. Outside forces (zoning and politically-motivated planning process) require developers to create more parking spaces than they want, not less. There is no regulative restriction on parking in this neighborhood. Because parking garages are incredibly expensive to build, the business case for a building changes when you have to dedicate 1/4 of the budget to parking. Most developers in a high-demand area like Lakeview know the parking isn’t necessary to attract resident and customers — they only build it because they have to to get their project approved. Similarly, outside forces restrict the density, and they cut units because they think it’s the only way to get it approved.

  • duppie

    The number of units keeps getting reduced because the number of stories keeps getting reduced from 11 to 10 and now to 8.

    Eight stories looks good to me. Hope they start building soon.

  • jared

    Many (most?) of the larger buildings in that area don’t have parking and I doubt they have any trouble renting them.

  • Lizzyisi

    My leasing agent has no trouble finding tenants for places in Lakeview that do not have parking. Whenever we chat about rents and vacancy rates in the neighborhood, he affirms that it’s just not that much of a concern.

    I swear, most of the traffic around Belmont is people going *through*, not people coming home to Lakeview.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    This is TOD-lite. To me its just a big building near a transit stop. Parking meh. There will always be a demand for living in popular neighborhoods with popular attractions. Now whether the popular attractions can survive year over year will depend upon a mix of people from both in and out of the neighborhood. Will it have retail that will draw people from outside the neighborhood, probably not. Check how often retailers turn over will give you a better idea of the neighborhood’s health.

    The developer is promising a “Fresh Market” type store, but I’ve been to many meetings where these promises are made but the space sits empty. What you’re probably eventually going to get is a Walgreens or 7-Eleven. Newly developed retail space is always the most expensive retail space (a lot due to the cost of taxes and common area expenses), so you’re not going to get new concept businesses. Something more on the lines of a Subway.

    Here’s the thing. You welcome these high density properties into a neighborhood with transit. And if you start getting these size buildings along Clark, you will end up changing the neighborhood for good and for bad. Because what may make the neighborhood attractive now with their small businesses, bars and boutiques, may make it less attractive later when you have national type tenants which are generally the ones that can afford newly built out retail space. And also figure that new retail space will drive up taxes on older retail space along the street making it hard for small businesses to survive.

  • oooBooo

    You don’t know what they know. You are projecting what you like. What is going on here is that parking is being restricted. When imposing minimums the business model changes as well. The business case is altered. There could be other impositions we are unaware of such as building height too.

    We don’t have a free market. First served is government and the special interests that drive it. Somewhere down the lists when political needs are all addressed are the needs of customers. The building must be profitable after all the political issues are addressed or the project does not move forward. Also time is consumed by the political process. A faster to construct, a smaller building may be needed as time is consumed just to be done on time for the market otherwise the profit goes poof when a market window closes.

  • duppie

    You bring up a good point. The last thing we want to do is build TOD- inspired highrises around every El station, changing neighborhoods too quickly. Plenty of those examples around were that went wrong. We have to be thoughtful about that.

    Having said that, any building will be an improvement over the DD that is there now.

  • The new housing that this building brings is, at this point, just making up for the loss in housing through deconversions and teardowns.

    When the neighborhood re-densifies it should have a stronger retail base of customers to support the new concept businesses.

  • Update: The groundbreaking occurred in early February 2015.

  • The building permit was issued this past week for the structure and build out.


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