Moore OKed Pritzker Projects That Will Bring Hundreds of Cars to Rogers Park

People walking on Sherwin now have to watch out for cars entering and leaving the new garage. Photo: 49th Ward

As I’ve written before, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore is one of the more progressive members of City Council, and he’s generally got a good record on walking, transit, and biking issues. However, Moore and billionaire real estate developer Jennifer Pritzker have become a dynamic duo when it comes to bringing auto-centric structures to Rogers Park. These buildings will only make the neighborhood more car-dependent.

Pritzker, too, deserves credit for being a historic preservationist and a bike advocate. But her development firm, Tawani Enterprises, recently completed a 250-spot parking garage a stone’s throw from the Lakefront and the Red Line’s Jarvis station. Her next project is a 45-unit rental complex with a whopping 75 car spots, virtually next door to the Morse ‘L’ stop. Moore has enabled Pritzker to move forward with both of these car-focused projects by approving the necessary zoning changes.

The alderman signed off on the garage in June of 2013. Located at the southeast corner of Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue, it replaced an attractive, 90-year-old home that formerly housed the Shambhala Meditation Center. The new structure will serve two nearby, Pritzker-owned buildings: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Emil Bach House, and Farcroft by the Lake, an upscale rental tower. 60 parking spaces are reserved for Farcroft residents, 84 spaces are set aside for short- and long-term paid parking for the general public, and 106 spaces will be used during Bach House events, and will be available to the public at other times.

While the garage isn’t hideous, it’s pretty boring to walk past.

Many local residents bitterly opposed the garage for several reasons. They argued that the monolithic structure would be out of place besides historic buildings on Sheridan and, with zero retail and a blank façade, it would make the business strip less lively. Worse, drivers entering and exiting the garage would endanger people walking on Sherwin.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of new parking spots would serve as a massive traffic generator. More cars in the neighborhood would make it harder for pedestrians to cross the street, and create traffic congestion for bus riders and more hazardous conditions for bicyclists.

In a message to constituents this morning, Moore heralded the recent opening of the parking structure. “This is not your run of the mill parking garage,” he wrote, touting its high-quality materials, roughly 5,000 square feet of ground-level green space and 800 square feet of greenery on the roof. While I don’t agree that the structure is “a stunning addition to Sheridan,” I’ll concede that it’s about as attractive as any building can be whose sole purpose is to warehouse autos.

But the way Moore characterizes the garage as an asset to the local transportation scene is a bit galling. He says the structure “offers relief for parking-starved Rogers Park residents” while failing to mention that neighborhood is rich in alternatives to driving, such as excellent transit access.

He argues that 250 new parking spaces will take up to 250 cars off the street, creating less competition for curbside spaces. However, all these new parking spots will encourage residents of the Faircroft and visitors to the Bach house and other businesses to bring more automobiles into the neighborhood. Then he asks us to have compassion for the parking-starved motorist:

Unless they have the luxury of an off-street parking location to store their car, they often find themselves endlessly circling the neighborhood looking for a parking space. Or they remain stuck in their home at night, reluctant to give up their on-street parking space.

Oh, the humanity! Instead, these unfortunate souls can now pay $125 a month for an off-street parking spot in the new garage.

“This new parking structure promises to make life a little bit easier for many Rogers Park residents,” Moore concludes, and that is true. However, it will also make life a little bit harder for the many Rogers Parkers who rely on walking, transit, and biking to get around. In most Census tracts in the neighborhood, over 40 percent of households don’t own cars.

1313 Morse Ave_29JUNE2015
Rendering of the development proposed for 1313 West Morse. The first three stories are parking.

In early July, I discussed the issues with the other car-centric Pritzker project, located at the southeast corner of Morse and Wayne avenues. Moore approved it at the end of the month. On the plus side, the development will replace a suburban-style strip mall with the 45 new rental units, whose tenants will have easy access to the ‘L’ stop and pedestrian-oriented retail and entertainment.

In a long post on his website explaining why he approved the project, Moore correctly noted that, while some neighbors have argued the development is too dense for the neighborhood, the new households will be a shot in the arm for the local economy:

Some oppose the development because it will increase the population density of the neighborhood. Over-population is the least of our concerns. In fact, the number of residents in Rogers Park has decreased by over 13 percent, or nearly 8,500 people, since 2000. We need more people in Rogers Park, not less, to support the neighborhood’s retail and commercial businesses.

The real problem with the development is that Tawani is ignoring the fact that this is prime real estate near a train station. They’re building 50 parking spots for the Pritzker-owned Mayne Stage music theater and pub across the street, plus 25 spaces for residents. Under the city’s current transit-oriented development ordinance, only 23 total spaces are required for a 45-unit building at this location. Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed a new TOD reform ordinance – if this passes, zero car spots would be required in a building like this.

Like the garage on Sheridan, the new Morse structure will encourage more people to bring automobiles into the community. If Pritzker and Moore keep promoting this kind of development, it might make sense to start calling the neighborhood “Rogers Parking Lot.”

  • Market or No Market

    You argue that the market should determine how much parking is provided. That at least is your justification for the TOD ordinance. But here you are saying that the the Aldermen should limit the parking availability and not let the market decide. Pritzker obviously believes there is a market for this parking. Maybe she is right, maybe she is wrong. Does Ald. Moore (or you) have better market intelligence?

  • Yeah really any appeal to “market forces” is just attractive sounding rhetoric. Economics here at this time is nowhere near any kind of market free from distorting influences. And not just government influences as there are many non-governmental concentrations of power that exert “unnatural” forces. So any appeals to “market intelligences” devolve into oxymorons.

    The arguments that best influence me are the ones that emphasize the importance of maintaining the choices between suburban and urban living. I am happy for the suburbs that have their car-centric environment but I will defend to the death (ok that’s hyperbolic) our need for urban environments where all the other means of movement take precedence over cars.

    Rogers Park with its el stops, train station and express bus services needs an alderman who is willing to stand up to car-centric concentrations of power like Pritzker. So-called progressives of yore understood that need. Moore does not have that kind of progressive spine.

  • Eat it

    I’m confused because one of the ideas often mentioned on this site is that publicand street parking is an unfair use of tax dollars and public space that is a subsidy for all car owners

    Yet here is a building complex with off street parking in a private lot and the writer heavily criticizes the development. How does the site rationalize this seemingly contradictory stance.

  • This site’s stance is entirely consistent, because it takes no position at all about public/private financing or economic theory in the way you seem to think is primary.

    This site is against the pervasive assumption that the best and only workable way to build cities is by making it trivially simple to own, store, use, and get around in a private car — which has as knock-on effects encouraging development and policy choices that make it darned hard, uncomfortable, or sometimes impossible to get around a city WITHOUT owning a car.

    Pervasive car-first, everything-else-nowhere policies are de facto government insisting everyone in a city MUST lay out the money to own, maintain, store, and run a car, which is darned expensive and quite a financial burden.

    This site is against that kind of unacknowledged tax on the entire city, while being for the encouragement and adoption of policies that support a robust public transit infrastructure (usable by all, not just all-who-own-a-car) and walk-friendly streets and routing.

    When a huge tower goes up with incredibly large amounts of parking, that’s an enormous economic waste if it’s not going to be full of cars all the time — the volume spent on parking garage could be generating rent and knock-on economic activity. Conversely, if it IS full of cars that are additional to the cars that were already in the neighborhood, suddenly there’s gridlock and traffic insanity as all those cars try to get to and from the garage.

  • Kevin M

    Moore’s afraid of Pritzker financing a foe in the next election.

  • Up In Rogers Park

    Moore traded in his ethics and spine a long time ago. His focus is on lining his pockets with money from Pritzker and other developers.

    He’s become a completely unethical sell out and is literally selling Rogers Park to the highest bidder.

    Quite possibly the worst alderman in City Hall, and Rogers Park is paying the price.

  • skyrefuge

    When I used to drive to Mayne Stage from the northwest suburbs (yeah, sorry, the proximity to the Red Line station is useless to people coming from Schaumburg, or even anyone on the northwest side of Chicago), I would park in the free church parking lot at the corner of Morse and Ashland. This seemed like a pretty nice compromise, finding an additional use for an existing, mostly-unused parking lot. I believe the location was suggested on Mayne Stage’s website.

    Unfortunately, that lot is no longer open to the public, due apparently to some change in the rules regarding the use of SSA funds: Did Streetsblog ever cover this story, and perhaps explain the what and the why of the changed SSA rules?

    The article says “The city no longer allows us [the SSA] to offer any parking incentives”. Perhaps this was an attempt by the city to discourage a car-centric culture, which has now completely backfired and resulted in the creation of *additional* mostly-unused parking space?

  • Stanley Katakowski

    Keep beating the same drum with the same stupid soundbites, Scott Phillips. It’s entertaining to watch your little tizzy fits! Almost as entertaining as it is to watch Gernhardt get shit-faced at Chuckies every day.

  • Interesting. Utilizing existing parking lots in this manner is certainly much smarter than building new parking. It’s such a waste when vast parking lots at big box retail stores aren’t used after hours to provide parking for other uses, generally due to liability concerns.

  • The true description of the proposal at Wayne and Morse is a 75 space parking garage with attached apartments.

    I commented on Moore’s Facebook post regarding the parking garage opening and his reply was simple and to the point, though merely deflecting by not answering my questions:

    “According to the study you quote, 47% of Rogers Park residents who live withing a quarter mile of a transit stop don’t own a car. That’s great. But what about the 53% who own a car? Should I simply ignore them? Or should I tell them to “get with the program,” and abandon their automobile? Not everyone has the ability to live without a car.”

  • PKDickman

    Apparently, you haven’t read the new TOD ordinance. The new version strikes out the requirement to voluntarily reduce parking to qualify for FAR, height and density enhancements.

    Under the new one you get an extra .5 FAR even if all you are building is a parking garage.

  • Under the new TOD ordinance, a project would be required to include affordable housing in order to qualify for the density bonus, so a parking garage with no housing would not be eligible. More info here:

  • PKDickman

    That would be density MLA if you were not putting housing in, a density bump would neither apply, nor be needed.

    I am talking about a boost in bulk from a base FAR of 3.0 to one of 3.5.

    The affordable housing commitment only comes into play if the “lot is subsequently developed with a residential housing project.”

    If the development has no residential component they have no affordable housing committment, but it still qualifies for an increase in floor area ratio to 3.5.
    It cannot, however apply for the additional floor area (to FAR of 4.0) because that would require on site affordable.

  • Julia P

    Before he abandoned EveryBlock, Moore constantly used the technique of deflection. He’s a very bright man, yet also very shallow.

  • what_eva

    Why was the SSA paying for the church for use of the lot instead of the theater?

  • what_eva

    Someone please explain “induced demand” to Joe Moore.

  • Why is Alderperson Moore using menu money to allow overnight parking in the Loyola Park parking lot?

  • TedContreras

    Since the parking at Wayne is primarily intended for transient parking to support businesses I don’t see that it encourages more car usage in general within the neighborhood. The building on Sheridan however is a blight on the street and an unforgivable tumor on the neighborhood. The Pritzkers and Moore should be absolutely ashamed of themselves as that building and it’s atrocity will be the one thing people remember about them when all else is forgotten.

  • Up In Rogers Park

    He’s also offensively inept at any kind of real leadership and completely corrupt. He bases all decisions on what it will do for his campaign fund.

  • OK, we get your point, but this article is not about bashing Moore as politician in general. Let’s keep on the topic of the merits of his parking policies. Future wholesale attacks on Moore will be considered off-topic and will be deleted.

  • skyrefuge

    The lot wasn’t solely for use by Mayne Stage patrons, it was open to the public, presumably with the idea that it would help all businesses in the SSA area. Collecting money from all the businesses in an area to provide a service that collectively benefits those businesses seems to be the basic point of an SSA, so it seemed like an appropriate use of SSA funds IMO.

  • Up In Rogers Park

    It is completely germane to the subject. If decisions about ward development are being made under conflicts of interest stemming from campaign contributions, then we have a serious problem as a community. You get that point?

  • Yes, but few people have made similar statements already, so no need to flog a dead horse.

  • Up In Rogers Park

    Completely understand; however, if you’ll pardon one final flogging, it indicates a prevailing opinion about a very real, ongoing problem in our community.


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