City Approves Car-Lite Belmont-Clark Development

View from across the corner of Clark and Belmont. Groundbreaking is set for this year, and occupancy is expected in 2016. Image: Hirsch Associates / BlitzLake Capital Partners.
View from across the corner of Clark and Belmont. Groundbreaking is set for this year, and occupancy is expected in 2016. Image: Hirsch Associates / BlitzLake Capital Partners.

After several iterations since first being proposed last October, plans for a new building at Clark and Belmont in Lakeview were approved by the city’s Plan Commission on Thursday.

Originally conceived as a ten-story building with 98 residential units, 56,000 square feet of retail, the building will now contain 90 residential units (a mix of studios, one, and two bedrooms) and 50,000 square feet of retail – just slightly less than the original design. The best part of the redesigned proposal is a drastically reduced number of parking spaces, from 120 to 39.

All 39 spaces are on the 2nd floor, accessed by a ramp off Clark St. Image:
All 39 spaces are on the 2nd floor, accessed by a ramp off Clark St. Image: Hirsch Associates / BlitzLake Capital Partners.

Situated just a block from the Belmont Red/Brown/Purple line station and at the intersection of two busy, all-day bus routes, the site can take advantage of the Transit-Oriented Development ordinance, which permits a 100% reduction of the commercial parking minimum and 50% reduction of the residential minimum. Previous design iterations did not take advantage of the ordinance: The first had 120 spaces, subsequently cut to 116, then 74, to the 39 spaces in the final design, which takes full advantage of the ordinance.

The developer, BlitzLake Capital Partners, confirmed that all of the spaces will initially be for residents only, and parking will be rented separately from the apartments. This means that tenants will have to pay market rate for a parking space, as opposed to having the cost included in rent; a member of the development team estimated the rent at $150 – $175 per month. Future arrangements could be made to sell the parking to other nearby residences or businesses, should tenants not rent all 39 spaces. The developer also confirmed that there will be one car-sharing automobile on-site.

When asked why the developer didn’t go all the way to zero, he stated that “no one felt comfortable” with zero spaces, and that 39 is a good “market” level. It is refreshing to hear the word “market,” as opposed to “required minimum,” when it comes to parking at new developments. Other recently proposed developments in Lakeview have been designed with the required minimum amount of spaces, or more – such as Addison Park on Clark’s 493 spaces across from Wrigley Field (where only 74 were required due to its proximity to the Red line), or the 290 spaces proposed at a Mariano’s grocery store on Broadway (the amount that zoning requires). The developer also stated that the city’s Plan Commission and CDOT expressed concerns about having zero parking spaces on the site.

This development will set another good precedent for other developers that may want to take advantage of the TOD ordinance. At a meeting last November, the developer stated that they could “not attract retail tenants” without 66 spaces of parking. Now, there will be one or more retail tenants without any parking. On a busy corner like this, where retailers have long thrived without parking, that makes intuitive sense.

Hopefully, the successive redesigns at this site lay the foundation for more car-lite, transit-oriented development in Lakeview and elsewhere along Chicago’s rails.

  • Pete

    In a building so close to transit, there probably won’t be much need for parking but there will always be some people who need cars for various reasons. Example, a couple lives in this building. Husband takes the red line to work in the loop. Wife works in the suburbs and needs to drive. This is why zero parking doesn’t work.

    Also, a large grocery store such as Mariano’s will never open with zero parking. A large store requires a large and diverse customer base, some of which will drive. Only small neighborhood stores can make it with zero customer parking.

  • 2Fast2Furious

    Point, counterpoint. Husband and wife never elect to live in the building in the first place because, like all smart renters/home buyers, they are aware of the parking situation before they move in. Instead, they find a better building that suits their needs. Or they rent a parking spot. Wow. Problem solved.

  • Alex Oconnor

    baby steps in the right directions. But that Broadway Mariano’s is a disaster

  • Alex Oconnor

    Now strip centers / malls roughly between wellington and belmont – halsted & clark can be redevloped similarly then Lakeview could actually begin to claim that it is bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

  • 2Fast2Furious

    Redeveloped to what? And even then, only if there’s demand.

  • Pete

    So long as your situation never changes.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    There is what you think could happen and then what’s really on the ground. You want density development in these places. However Walgreens & CVS probably have 15 to 20 year leases, so they are not going anywhere fast. The property owner of the strip mall on Wellington in Clark may be a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) and investors are likely pension funds. If they are getting a good return on their investment, chances are they are not going to risk their investment at least not in the near future.

    Maybe it’s not a REIT. The owner may be covering his/her expenses with the rents and is just land banking for future development down the road. But then again, the landlord could be a long time owner and is reaping good bucks just the way it is.

    I do know is if there was money to be made redeveloping these properties, the owners probably would.

  • Mishellie

    That’s always something that can occur and become a problem no matter where you live.

  • Alex Oconnor

    “There is what you think could happen and then what’s really on the ground.” —–Wewilliewinkleman

    Thank you for that trenchant insight. Via that admonishment I suppose no one should ever strive for anything different …ever. Since what is is what is……..

    As for the rest of your speculation.

    Georgist land taxation would take care of that. Leases often have out clauses. There has been a shift in residential patterns. Lakeview especially near transit and the lake and LSD for that matter make this an optimal place to redevelop into density. Additionally the Lakeview and LP submarkets both have some of the lower vacancy rates in the entire city. Last number I saw out vacancy rates at not much above 2%. Rental demand is not an issue

    Economic Rent seekers are hardly the bastion of rational maximizer that you posit.

    Never let the power of inertia and rent seeking confuse you with rational maximal behavior

  • Alex Oconnor

    As i wrote ….Similarly. But thanks for playing, Paul Samuelson.

  • Alex Oconnor

    Well that would be highly unnatural wouldn’t it? Never changes…OK

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Well if you want a Georist taxation system, get you pants on, tie you shoes and get to work. It probably needs to get an Illinois constitutional amendment passed to do it. I really don’t know about these things. However, being the cold hearted realist that I am, I am going to assume to get such a system in place you’ll have to have an army of economists, lobbyists and lots of cold hard cash. So in your theory, tax land high and development will follow because it will be gosh darn expensive to own land. Could it work? I suppose, but in rentals, cost of taxation is passed on to the leaseholders. Leaseholders pass cost on to everyone else.

    But no matter the source of the tax, in any kind of transaction, real estate or otherwise, you have to have a willing buyer and seller. Unless you want the government to step in and land grab by eminent domain to satisfy your vision of urban development, the owner will do as he pleases.

  • There are alternatives to providing own parking *and* zero parking. There is a “shared parking” ordinance that allows different land uses/parking pattern uses to share a parking lot, provided this lot is within 600 feet of each use.

  • oooBooo

    What if a market analysis says to build more parking? What if a land owner sees a market need for parking and wants to build a parking garage? What then? Political pressure and the use of government to stop/reduce parking of course. Either have a free market point of view or don’t.

  • Pete

    Nothing infuriates a streetsblogger quite as much as convenient parking.

  • If you want a free market, why don’t we eliminate the parking minimums that force developers to include large amounts of parking in their projects, whether they see a market need for it or not?

  • Alicia

    What does that matter? Of course the place could become inadequate for changing needs, but so what? They aren’t locked into staying in the place for life.

    If one of them gets a job in New York or LA, the place would also become inadequate for their needs and they would address that by moving to a new home.

  • oooBooo

    I’ve replied to at length multiple times on this tired old ‘gotcha’ that is based on a false assumption. You won’t find support from me for government imposed parking minimums. Here’s a repeat since you weren’t paying attention previously:

    Parking minimums are not some vast conspiracy to encourage driving. They exist because street parking is treated as a commons. People like treating symptoms instead of dealing with root cause problems so they created parking minimums as a top down command and control solution to developers and people using the commons to avoid the cost of parking. Another patch for the overuse of this commons is the residential parking permit. For both minimums and permits people feel they have the exclusive use of street parking in their neighborhoods and they don’t want more competition for it.

    If you put up new developments that increase the number of people in a given area but no additional parking there will be greater pressure on the commons from residents and visitors. Same with larger businesses that attract more customers to an area.

    So feel free to get rid of parking minimums, but to avoid chaos and a revolt the actual reason they exist has to be understood and the root cause problem dealt with. To achieve proper balance the entire system has to be scrapped and started over from a private property free market standpoint. People would have actual property rights and thus could put in their own driveways, lots, garages, etc without begging the city for permission, but street parking would become something used by visitors, customers, etc not for regular storage of personal property of residents. One could even consider eliminating street parking entirely but then there can be no interference with property rights at all. That means if someone wants to build a parking garage on their property to serve the need and make a buck, then they should just be able to do so. There should also not be any targeted taxes on the transaction. This way there will be plentiful convenient parking at a nominal cost. Businesses would also be encouraged to combine their resources to build off street parking they own for customers.

    Of course there is little to no desire for property rights or a free market, so I doubt there will be any significant support for this trade even though it would eliminate street parking.

    There’s no picking and choosing here. Either have a free market property rights point of view or don’t.

  • neroden

    The basic solution for people treating parking with the “tragedy of the commons” is to *charge for it*. Parking meters were invented a very, very long time ago.

  • oooBooo

    Parking meters were invented to turn over parking places. There is no market to set an appropriate price either. Government blocks and taxes other parking while setting a price that comes out of a politician’s behind. If you wish to create market for parking on the street turn the parking over to the property owners who will then charge or forbid parking in front of their property as they see fit.

  • Except that the property owners do not own the public way, and in no way do they pay for it. Why should they be handed it for free when it should be maintained for the use of anyone who needs it?

  • oooBooo

    Free market solutions require private property. If street parking is to be adapted to a free market model it must be owned by someone. Consider it a narrowing of the public way. As the public way is widened, land is taken from the properties along it. As the public way is narrowed the land should revert back. There is the issue of discontinuity of the sidewalk but that would only be on paper from a practical standpoint since the property owner has to keep the sidewalk clear anyway. It’s a more complex solution than simply doing away with street parking in favor of off street private property, but if one is really attached to street parking and wants it charged for per market, then one must think out of the box so to speak.

    But let’s say street parking was done away with and instead of using the parking area as additional travel lanes the road was narrowed and the sidewalks moved in towards the center line. Much like state street south of 31st. The side walk could be extra wide or the land on the outer edges, equal to the parking area that was removed, reverts back to the property owners.

  • I disagree with almost all of your premises that I can discern. Foundationally, property can be owned by a public entity in common and STILL not necessarily be tragedy-of-the-commonsed, if there are rules and regulation as to their use (and, potentially, market-based solutions for PRICING their use). I do not want to live in a city where maintaining the usability of sidewalk past each house lot was the responsibility and privilege of each individual homeowner. Treelawns and sidewalks in Chicago do NOT belong to the adjacent property owners, they belong to the city, and in many cases are a useful place to do utility work that benefits the entire block.

  • oooBooo

    Fundamentally in the present system, the government owns all land. Property tax is just a semantic term that people are more comfortable with, but effectively it’s renting the property from the government. When we purchase a property we are just purchasing the lease for all effective purposes with all the restrictions the landlord has and may add or subtract.

    You already live in a city where the property owner must keep the sidewalk clear. We get a vivid demonstration every winter. Stop taking care of that plot between the sidewalk and the street and see what happens. Let the grass grow long and the weeds invade.

    Government ownership is not the same as public way. Are we indentured servants to the government? Or may we stop shoveling and mowing? If the corporation, the institution that is government owns that section may it restrict access as it sees fit? Like a military base?

    Government sets and fixes prices by the political process. It’s not a market process. Look what they do with interest rates.

  • I still strongly disagree with your premises. Property tax is a payment citizens pay to promote the upkeep of our joint project, the government of the city that is us.

    You might as well quit, you’re not going to convince me and we’re way off-topic for the post.

  • oooBooo

    You are free to disagree with logic all you want.

    Also you might want to back off that idea that ‘we’ are the government, it gives you liability for a lot of things you had absolutely no part in.

  • But it’s not your logic I disagree with, it’s your basal premises.

  • Guest

    Except the basal premises are the same, we both accept these things exist. I follow the effective logic, which is what those who rule us do. You follow what feels right to you. the excuses they use to sell it to us.


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