Eyes on the Street: Checking Out the “Mistake by the Lake” Parking Garage

IMG_2345
Photo: John Greenfield

I have a confession to make. When I wrote Monday’s post about the brand new parking garage that billionaire developer Jennifer Pritzker opened at Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue in Roger Park, I hadn’t actually checked it out in person.

7333645176_f63d3d1acb_c
The house that the garage replaced. Photo: Kelly Loris

However, a visit yesterday during the evening rush confirmed most of the criticisms about the structure. The monolithic, 250-spot facility looks out of place alongside historic buildings on Sheridan. It replaces a colorful, 90-year-old house that formerly housed a meditation center, which had an attractive yard with several tall trees. Since the garage has zero retail and presents a blank face to pedestrians, it’s a much less interesting property to walk past.

IMG_2341
This streetscape isn’t awful, but it would be more interesting with retail. Photo: John Greenfield

The parking structure is a five-minute walk from the Red Line’s Jarvis stop, and a two-minute stroll to the beach, so it occupies valuable land that would have been much better utilized by housing. And the garage entrance and exit on Sherwin further degrades the pedestrian environment by forcing people on foot to watch out for cars crossing the sidewalk.

IMG_2377
Cars entering and leaving the garage will be a hazard for pedestrians. Photo: John Greenfield

It was hard to gauge how much impact the facility will have on traffic congestion in the neighborhood, since — probably due to its newness — the garage was mostly empty when I stopped by. But it’s safe to predict that the structure will encourage more tenants of the nearby, Pritzker-owned Farcroft by the Lake rental tower and visitors to Frank Llloyd Wright’s Emil Bach house to bring cars into the neighborhood. Other residents can rent monthly spaces for $125, which further promotes car ownership.

That said, seeing the facility with my own eyes also confirmed that it’s probably one the most attractive structures ever built that has no function whatsoever except to stack automobiles. The garage also gets points for its louvered green glass panels, which provide plenty of airflow, eliminating the need to use power for a ventilation system. And it’s certainly a good thing that the structure has spaces for car-sharing vehicles, plus an electric vehicle charging station.

IMG_2367
It’s too bad that cars, rather than apartment dwellers, get to enjoy this nice lake view. Photo: John Greenfield

Pritzker apparently agrees with me that, if she and local alderman Joe Moore keep bringing car-centric development to the neighborhood, we should rename the community “Rogers Parking Lot.” The punster in me applauds the fact that there’s an “R” to the left of the garage’s “P” for “Parking” sign — see the photo at the top of this post.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Pritzker: My New Garage Will Fight Congestion, Is a Symbol of Democracy

|
Colonel Jennifer Pritzker is a billionaire investor, a historic preservationist, a bicycle advocate, and an LGBT trailblazer. Unfortunately, we have to add to that list “tone-deaf commentator on urban planning issues.” A ribbon cutting was held Wednesday for the new 250-car parking garage in Rogers Park, built by her development company Tawani Enterprises. “I am very […]

A Mistake By the Lake? Developer Wants a 250-Car Garage in Rogers Park

|
[This piece also appears in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.] Colonel J.N. Pritzker, one of Chicago’s wealthiest, most influential residents, is a historic preservationist and a bicycle advocate. As an heir to the Pritzker family fortune and longtime Rogers Park resident, the billionaire has […]