New Grocery’s City-Mandated Car Parking, Not Buses, Will Congest Broadway

broadway mariano's and xsport reduced
The proposed development, viewed from the north. Image: Antunovich Associates

Some East Lakeview neighbors are unhappy with a proposed retail complex along Broadway, just north of Wellington, that would house a large Mariano’s supermarket on its lower floors and an Xsport Fitness on its upper floors. The five-story building will have retail space with a large driveway and loading area on the ground floor, the supermarket mostly on the second floor, two levels of parking, and the fitness center on the top floor.

Many of the neighbors’ criticisms center on the building’s bulk, and the number of parking spaces — both of which largely result from the city’s zoning ordinance, which requires plentiful parking even in car-light neighborhoods like East Lakeview. Over half of the building’s area will be devoted to storing and moving cars and trucks, but the 279 car parking spaces proposed are just five percent more than zoning requires for a commercial development of this size.

A traffic analysis [PDF], performed by local firm KLOA, predicts that many people would drive to the development (which seems natural if they know that they can easily park there), and that slightly longer delays at intersections would result. KLOA does note in its analysis that trips to the development will be lower than average, because people will combine trips – going to work out, and then going grocery shopping afterwards – and because many local residents will arrive on bike, foot, or by transit. Today, this stretch of Broadway sees fairly light car traffic: Even at rush hour yesterday, it was easy to cross the street mid-block.

Project architect Joe Antunovich says that the solution for increased traffic is not to reduce parking — but rather to stripe more space for cars on the street (squeezing out room that bikes currently use to maneuver), and to add a new stoplight just 210 feet away from an existing one at Wellington. Antunovich further said that the 36-Broadway bus route causes traffic congestion when people are trying to board. He placed more blame on the bus, which carries dozens of passengers, than the single-occupancy vehicles driving down Broadway — many of whom block traffic on Broadway by making left turns from the center lane.

Alderman Tom Tunney is going along with the proposal. Although he says that the city, as a whole, is moving away from auto-centric development, he says that bike lanes elsewhere are counter-balanced by adding car traffic in this part of Lakeview, a place where half of households don’t own a car.

Not Broadway St, just Broadway
The Broadway bus, seen here causing congestion at 5:15 PM.

Previously, the site housed a smaller Dominick’s grocery store with a surface parking lot, but the store burned down in 2005. A scan of multiple satellite photos of the site shows that at many times during the day, fewer than 50 car parking spaces in Dominick’s parking lot were occupied.

Lakeview commute map
Census data shows that many Lakeview households don’t own a car, and use transit to get to work.

A 2012 proposal by a different development team had a larger Mariano’s store, 113 rental apartments in place of the Xsport, and 212 parking spaces, since residences require fewer parking spaces than commercial space. At 70,870 square feet, the Mariano’s in the current plan would still be one of the city’s largest supermarkets — just slightly smaller than the Whole Foods Market on Kingsbury Street.

The site’s location along Broadway, which is a designated Pedestrian Street under the zoning ordinance, poses another difficulty for the developer as that designation prohibits driveways. Alderman Tunney may have to remove the P-Street designation for this block so that the development can receive permits for its proposed driveway.

  • DrMedicine

    Antunovich is a blight on this city.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    The broadway bus carries like 15,000 people every day, I doubt there’s even that many people driving on Broadway, and if the bus was eliminated broadway would be gridlock 15 hours a day if everyone drove. That architect is mad as a hatter, and a disgrace on the profession I am studying.

  • Anne A

    What has Antunovich been smoking? That’s just crazy. Parking should be minimized in this development for all the reasons you’ve given. Broadway functions better with fewer cars.

  • BlueFairlane

    I don’t see how parking could congest a bus, anyway.

    (I had to do it. The headline was making me twitch.)

  • CL

    I’m always amazed that i can consistently find parking at the Boystown Whole Foods (on Halsted), even though there aren’t that many spaces (it’s an underground parking lot). I don’t know how many spaces there are, but it seems to be enough.

    Grocery stores need some parking, because people can’t carry enough food to feed a family. The gym side probably doesn’t need much parking, though, since transit alternatives will be fine — and I think people will tend to choose a gym close to home, especially in Lakeview where there are lots of gyms.

  • Kevin M

    If it were not for the Broadway bus, Broadway would be as congested as Clybourn is between Division & Fullerton.

  • John

    Why have P streets if Aldermen just remove them whenever a developer comes calling. It seems like this proposal is inconsistent with the zoning plan for the area.

  • JKM13

    As much as I’ve wanted this lot to be developed, this plan is absolutely awful and will ruin this part of Broadway.

  • tooter turtle

    If this thing goes in, it will just discourage me from walking or biking on this part of Broadway anymore. So, all of the businesses there will be dead to me.

  • I agree. This massing does appear to be a bit too bulky for that stretch of Broadway. I’m not opposed to the height, but rather how it’s arranged. It would seem that stepping it back after the second floor might work well. Of course, I would also prefer the previous plan with additional residences over the inclusion of more commercial space and parking to serve it.

    Where I see this causing some serious traffic problems is at the already congested Broadway/Belmont intersection. The buses help to reduce that congestion, as do the large number of cyclists and pedestrians. But a development that is clearly aiming to accommodate cars and attract outside customers to the neighborhood will clearly make congestion worse.

  • I looked at 2010 traffic counts and none were taken directly on Broadway. However, there was one traffic count that started at Clark/Fullerton and continued to Broadway/Addison that counted 16,000 cars.

  • Scott Sanderson

    This just makes no sense to me. Is the developer expecting customers to travel long distances to get to these stores? In my view, a grocery store and health club are mostly focused on the locals who live in the neighborhood and do not need to drive.

    Imagine if all those parking spaces were affordable housing units. Isn’t that the kind of development that should go on a p-street? The city needs more people paying property taxes, and medium/high-density mixed use development is a good way to do it. Instead we are designing the city so that people sit in a traffic jam to get to a stationary bike.

    I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Hardly. I lived over there when Dominicks had their store and it was hardly gridlocked. What’s your definition of “congestion”?

  • cjlane

    “The broadway bus carries like 15,000 people every day, I doubt there’s even that many people driving on Broadway”

    What’s the boarding/alighting count south of Diversey (ie, the 50% of the route where the 36 runs *not* on Broadway)?

    not that I’m defending the parking count, or the massing of the project, but need to compare counts of similar use. And Antunovich, as reported, sounds like a dope.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    You lived there before the bus line was put in? (that’s what I’m referring to – the architect says the bus causes congestion, I’m saying the bus eliminates congestion, and the reason broadway is not congested is due to the excellent bus service running on it, and a couple blocks over on clark, the two carry 30,000 a day in combination, and generally do a good job of keeping the streets in balance. )

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Sorry, I was responding to your comment that there would be gridlock on Broadway 15 hours a day without the bus. Certainly the buses don’t cause the gridlock. But, I also think that broad statements without significant underlying detail to support your argument goes nowhere. If you could provide how many people actually ride the bus between Diversey and Broadway on a daily basis would provide a starting point.

    Like I said, what’s your definition of congestion?

  • Is there an alley on that block? If so, making the garage access be off the alley might help keep the main street side P-friendly.

  • It’s an oddly large block, not just east-west but also north-south. There’s no alley, but there is a cul-de-sac “baby street” (to use Philadelphia parlance; it’s named Waterloo Court) back there. It wouldn’t be appropriate to load such a large garage off a residential one-way cul-de-sac, so the entire circulation plan depends on Broadway.

  • Thanks for the feedback. I rearranged the hed.

  • Dang, and here I thought I’d single-handledly solved a problem vexing tens of highly qualified people. :-> I wonder how they’re handling garbage and deliveries, if there’s no alley?

  • All auto/truck access is off a driveway through the building, perpendicular to Broadway.


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