Logan Square Transit-Oriented Development: Less Parking, More Walkability

The two proposed towers will be within 450 feet, as the crow flies, of the California Blue Line station. Image: AJ LaTrace/Curbed Chicago
The two proposed towers will be within 450 feet of the California Blue Line station. Image: AJ LaTrace/Curbed Chicago

A pioneering developer of car-free apartments is looking to continue building car-lite residences. Curbed Chicago reports that Rob Buono, who was behind constructing 1611 W Division in Wicker Park, is proposing two mid-rise residential towers in Logan Square along Milwaukee Avenue near the California Blue Line station. The two towers, one 14 stories and the other 10 stories, would have 231 units and 7,100 square feet of retail but only 72 car parking spaces.

The relatively low amount of car parking is possible because Buono can take advantage of the 2013 transit-oriented development ordinance, which cuts parking minimums in half for residential developments near train stations.

Chicago’s zoning code would normally require at least 239 car parking spaces for this development — eight for the retail space, and one for each household. That mandate would have harmed this thriving part of Logan Square by adding more automobile traffic, getting in the way of people, buses and bicycles.

Last year, when Adam Hebert was struggling against parking requirements so he could open a restaurant and bar, he told Streetsblog, “In the Logan Square community, everybody bikes everywhere. It doesn’t make sense to put in parking where people bike. I’d rather put in bike racks.”

The TOD ordinance allows Buono to completely get out of the mandate to build eight parking spaces for retail, but the requirement for 231 residential parking spaces can only be cut down to 116. To get down to the 72 surface parking spaces Buono is proposing, he will probably have to change the property’s zoning.

Parking is very expensive to build and maintain. The lower parking ratios enabled by TOD ordinance mean cost savings can be passed on to tenants.

The architect, Jon Heinert, has also proposed doubling the sidewalk width to 25 feet.

Curbed pointed out this development is one of five developments proposed or under construction on Milwaukee within a few blocks of each other.

The above map shows the property in dark blue (upper) among other vacant lots along the Pedestrian Street.

  • JKM13


  • Str0ng

    What’s going to be in between them?

  • duppie

    I am going to guess that the final design, in typical chicago fashion, will be 8-10 stories high, not 14.

  • Commenter

    It will never happen. The influential Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association, that’s really just a handful of people, is very anti-density. They won’t buy anything more than 4 or 5 stories, and for them, that’s pushing it.

  • MLKendricks

    Wow. I can’t wait for this to hit DNA Info. People are going to freak right out. I agree though this gets knock down to between 6-8 stories. It seems like the Belmont & Clark building, overshot your goal and bargain back down to what you really want.

  • JacobEPeters

    Nothing about the massing of this project is walkable. Density is only walkable if the streetwall is activated and the development is incorporated into the neighborhood. I’d add townhomes off Belden, and connect the buildings with a 2 story massing holding the streetfront on Milwaukee.

  • Retail and a “green roof”. Although when you look at the 3D model, it doesn’t appear that the roof is above anything. It just looks like a raised garden.

  • Yeah, same here, but the developer can still put in less parking because of the TOD ordinance :)

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    7100 sq ft of retail space seems pretty small for two buildings with that large of foot print. And why a surface lot?

  • Jim Angrabright

    Isn’t the roof covering the surface parking?

  • Jim Angrabright

    Just guessing: I think the surface lot is between the buildings and covered by the green roof. Retail would only be located under the towers. Perhaps the parking/green roof between the buildings would be open to Milwaukee with no retail.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    I really don’t consider this “Transit Oriented Development”. Its just two big buildings near an el stop with less parking. Yawn. If there was a comprehensive development plan for this area of Milwaukee Avenue for future development that would include a lot of other things, I would consider it TOD.

    Yes you have to start somewhere, but I also think a lot of these developers follow the bandwagon of “green roofs” and “TOD” and whatever the next fad in development comes down the pike. I don’t always agree with JEP (below), but he’s right on the street wall.

  • It may not be “Transit Oriented Development” but it’s definitely transit oriented development because they are proposing a LOT of residences near an L station (relative to its parcel size), which is what should be happening, instead of proposing a LOT of residences away from an L station (relative to its parcel size).

    Which is still happening in Chicago; see http://itineranturbanist.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/infuriating-regressive-nimbyism-in-chicago/

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    And that’s the problem with how Chicago handles development. Unless you have a comprehensive development plan on the ground for an area, you end up with these hodge podge developments that lead to NIMBYs pushing back.

  • Jim Angrabright

    The comprehensive development plan is called zoning. NIMBY’s only push back when they don’t like what you want to do and what you want to do requires a change to the zoning otherwise they don’t have that much say. Some areas require special considerations due to density/traffic/etc (like the city central) and others are subject to covenants (like being in a historic district).

  • Jim Angrabright

    Since the Curbed article stated a green roof with “trees” this would indicate an amenity to the tenants not the “green roof” I think you’re referring to. That kind of roof would not be soiled based and is just be covered in sedums. Trees and other large vegetation require large and heavy amounts of soil at depth which require a robust structure so as long as you’re paying for that you may as well make it an asset and allow people up there too.

  • ohsweetnothing

    We’re not often on the same page, but man…I think you’re right on here.

  • Like Jim says below, the “comprehensive development plan” is our zoning, but we have for a while zoned parcel by parcel, instead of by area. Logan Square does have an open space plan from the early 2000s, but I’m not sure if it grapples transit and development like this.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Well of course it’s the zoning. The zoning should be changed now to encourage the development of the kind of density you want in the future. If you wait until each parcel comes up for development to change the zoning, you will give rise to NIMBYs every single time a new development goes in. You build the case for changing the zoning by engaging in building a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the area. That way you have the tools needed to foster growth.

    If you want to call this plan TOD, go ahead. But the retail is about the standard size of a 7-11 store. Nothing that would make me want to go over there by any means of transportation. If sticking a few trees up in the sky, cutting the parking minimums, creating another surface parking lot for Milwaukee Avenue, and nothing to really entice anyone else to the area is your idea of well balanced TOD, well, I guess you will get what you want.

  • Jim Angrabright

    There’s also overlays to areas that modify zoning. For example there’s an overlay to the zoning along that stretch that has to do with not allowing strip malls with parking in front (that’s not the open land space plan you mention, is it?). TOD is an overlay also, but it’s all zoning.

    If you look at a zoning map it most often has very large swaths of multiple properties under one code and this gives directions to use. Sometimes it looks like parcel by parcel because of legacy or zoning changes to individual properties.

  • I don’t think the Logan Square open space plan has led to any neighborhood-level zoning changes.

    The overlay district here is the Pedestrian Street designation (in the map).

  • FG

    Agreed – TOD to me means more than just one building coincidentally near mass transit with fewer parking spaces than normal.

  • (comment is based on information revealed at a November community meeting, and not necessarily information available at the time of this blog post)

    I think the surface lot is to reduce the expense of building a garage. The architect has, I think pretty cleverly, shaped the buildings in the non-rectangular parcel to forgo having to design a podium (which dominate Streeterville and detract even more from a street’s walkability than the small blank wall this development has).


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