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An Intelligent Plan for Redeveloping the Intelligentsia Building

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The Intelligentsia building at 3115 North Broadway will have its top two floors of parking converted to apartments. Image: Google Street View

Broadway in East Lakeview is one of the city’s most vibrant pedestrian-oriented retail districts. But lately it’s been depressing to watch the construction of a massive, suburban-style development just north of Wellington, which will house a Mariano’s supermarket and an XSport Fitness, plus a whopping 280 car parking spaces.

That project has already been degrading the pedestrian environment, since the sidewalk next to the work site has been closed for months, leading people to walk in the street. Although would have been plenty of room to create a walkway in the parking lane by using Jersey barriers, most of the parking spots were retained instead.

And once the development opens, the excessive number of garage spaces will encourage hundreds of new car trips a day. Not only will that make walking and biking on Broadway less safe and pleasant, it will worsen congestion in the neighborhood and increase pollution.

Fortunately, there was some good news yesterday about development on the strip. Kitty-corner from the new Mariano’s, the building that houses Intelligentsia Coffee and four other business, 3115 North Broadway, has been sold for $5.7 million, and the new owner plans to transform two floors of that building’s parking garage into apartments, DNAinfo reported.

Imagine that: A developer decided that housing for human beings would be a more productive and profitable use of prime real estate than warehousing automobiles.

JSM Ventures purchased the 90,000-square-foot building last month from Baum Realty Group. JSM plans to remove the top two floors of the four-level parking garage and replace them with three floors of apartments, which will grow the building from 62 feet to 73.5 feet.

The developer believe that the renovation won’t require a shutdown of the businesses that are currently housed in the building, including the café, The Apartment People, Addi European Tailor, Contacts and Specs, and Lakeview Dental Arts, DNA reported.

Granted, it might have been more difficult to reassure local residents that this transformation won’t create a parking crunch if there weren’t hundreds of new spaces being built across the street right now. Still, I’d gladly raise a mug of Intelligentsia java to toast JSM for this forward-thinking plan.

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