Today’s Headlines for Monday, August 31

  • Active Trans: Voice Support for Safer Streets & More Transit at This Week’s Budget Hearings
  • CDOT Begins Installing Loop Link Bus Shelters (Curbed)
  • RTA Chair: Raise the Gas Tax to Better Fund Transit (Sun-Times)
  • As Long as Yellow Line Is Down, CTA Will Keep on Truckin’ Rail Cars to Repair Center (Tribune)
  • Developer Is Suing Over Chicago’s New Affordable Housing Ordinance (Crain’s)
  • Witnesses: Police Arrested Teen for Sidewalk Biking — After He Recited Anti-Cop Rap (DNA)
  • Ride-Share Isn’t Just Hurting Cabbies, It’s Killing the Medallion Market (Crains)
  • Orland Park School District May Fire New Bus Company Due to Bad Drivers (Tribune)
  • Amtrak Is Testing Roll-On Service Between Chicago & Washington, D.C. (Post-Gazette)
  • Lots of Info About the Wabash Lights Placemaking Proposal (Daily Dot)
  • But Does His Bicycle Fly? Rahm Portrayed as E.T. on New Bloomingdale Trail Mural (DNA)
  • Meeting This Wednesday on Improving Safety at Ridge/Touhy/Rogers (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Walking through it last week, I wonder hwy more developers don’t look to Sandburg Village as a model for TOD/walkable/mixed-use/non-car-centric development in Chicago? Low vacancy, parking hidden under an enormous walkable plaza, a variety of residential uses from single-family to large tower (and some of the tower units could certainly be set aside for seniors or below-market-rate use), professional offices integrated into it, and storefront properties for small business.

    It doesn’t erect walls around itself, and is used heavily by people going north-south to transit as well as by families with kids riding bikes, local residents sitting in the shade or the sun reading, and so on.

    The Edgewater Beach apartments’ garage is also wondefully well integrated, under their large tenant greenspace, but nearly at ground level so it doesn’t form a massive exclusionary plinth-wall like most modern developments do.

  • Matt F

    RE Ride Share killing the medallion market: GOOD RIDDANCE.

  • Rampage

    Why is it the responsibility of a few (developers, market rate residents) to pay for all the affordable housing being built? Inclusionary zoning not only is unfair, it has never been effective.

  • Well, in the case of the Jefferson Park Gateway project (Streetsblog article is linked to in the above headline) it makes sense for the developer to give something back to the city of Chicago, since they’re asking to build on a city-owned parcel for free.

  • Because we all pay the price for segregation in Chicago.

  • Anne A

    Good question.

  • I think the idea is that the affordable housing costs get rolled into the overall project costs and are more than offset by the increased profit margin that the zoning increases create.

    That is reasonable on its face as a property’s value upon sale reflects existing zoning, not wishful thinking zoning. If I buy a property zoned for 20 units, getting a zoning increase allowing the construction of 40 magically inflates its value even without building the units – property value is linked to what *can* be built in addition to what is already there.

    I don’t have any issue with affordable housing set asides in theory, but in the larger scheme of things I am not sure it’s terribly effective given that these units aren’t really viable alternatives for the people they are meant to help – families feeling the squeeze of higher rents along Milwaukee Avenue don’t want “microunits,” they want 3+ bedroom apartments and preferably some space for kids to be able to run around, aka a yard.

  • A Sandburg-village-like development in Lincoln Park or Bucktown would fill up INSTANTLY.

  • Roland Solinski

    That doesn’t take into account the bizarre, perverted nature of the zoning map.

    I think most reasonable people, in the abstract, would assume that the allowable new construction on a given parcel should be something similar to what already exists in the neighborhood.

    In reality, the allowable new construction is often far far less than what the neighborhood already has, thanks to decades of downzoning and additional parking requirements. Want to build a new courtyard building in Rogers Park? The neighborhood’s full of old ones, but if you want to build another one you’re gonna need a zoning change, buddy. Time to pay the piper!

  • Roland Solinski

    They would face the requirement even if they were paying fair market price for the land, both because the land is city-owned and because it needs rezoning.

  • Roland Solinski

    Most people today would frown on the city using its eminent domain authority to clear a neighborhood and hand it to a private developer. That’s how Sandburg Village came to be.

    Designs like Sandburg Village only work on very large sites, and generally sites like this don’t exist in the areas of high land value where high density makes sense economically. There are a few exceptions – Lakeshore East is essentially a latter-day Sandburg Village on steroids.

  • Roland Solinski

    There are other issues, too – the monolithic underground garage is a huge upfront investment. You have to build it before anything else. Most large developments today are phased, which lowers risk – developers can turn around and sell the unbuilt portions of a large site if the project fails. For a Sandburg Village, this isn’t possible – the whole site is covered by a giant garage which limits the development possibilities and thus the value of the unbuilt portions.

    In 2007, MCL tried to build exactly a Sandburg Village at Parkview West in Streeterville, where they got a entire city block. They built an underground garage across the whole block with a beautiful park on top, then they built one successful tower on the west end. The tower planned for the east end never got built due to the recession and eventually the bank foreclosed on the land. Only now is the project being re-launched by Related.

  • In any neighborhood where people are yelling about scarce parking I’d bet even a large garage with one tower on it could be a money-spinner for monthly rented spaces to neighborhood residents or businesses (for valet).

  • That’s true in some cases but not in others. There must be hundreds of old manufacturing-zoned lots that have been rezoned for residential. The context that counts to the bean counters on high is maximizing a lot’s property tax assessment, something which unsurprisingly doesn’t ease concerns of residents.

  • We’ll see what happens at the old Children’s Memorial site. It will take years – if ever – for that stretch of Lincoln Ave businesses to recover from the loss of the hospital workers’ business.

  • FG

    Federal loans and subsidies that existed in the 60’s for high-rise and high-density development no longer exist (as well as city support) plus tastes have changed* and shifted to more private space and lower, more traditional, buildings as a whole, not least because they are cheaper. If a private developer was going to do this today they would have to develop more of the property to maximize profit unless there was a subsidy in the form of cheap loans or a grant or else some perfect intersection of governmental mandates and cost of development and initial property cost to get them to build tall with open plazas. Examples like the one below often happen with multiple towers being planned and then something stopping the later phases.

    *Interestingly high-rise buildings have gained in popularity in Europe over the past decade or so.

  • planetshwoop

    The Financial Times wrote about this topic this weekend. Admittedly, it’s more about London but much of the discussion applies to Chicago as well. This stuck out at me:

    “This role of real estate as a store of wealth points to a deeper problem: property ownership is not very compatible with high-density urban living. Widespread home ownership is a key driver of social division, argues Rees, because of the fixation with property values that it produces.

    This makes developers hypersensitive about anything that could push down the price they can sell homes for, including the presence of a low-income household next door. “People live in better societies when they rent,” says Rees.

    Ultimately the property market in the world’s largest cities suffers from the tragedy of the commons: with individuals acting according to their own narrow self-interest, the best possible overall outcome does not materialise.”

    Full article here: