A New “Pedestrian Street” Designation on Ashland Avenue Will Be Only 50 Feet Long

Rendering of building at 3720-3722 N Ashland
Rendering of building at 3720-3722 N Ashland

A proposed ordinance to designate 50 feet of Ashland Avenue as a “Pedestrian Street” underscores the popularity of the city’s TOD ordinance that reduces a building’s car parking requirements.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) plans to designate the single property at 3720-3722 N Ashland Ave. as being on a “Pedestrian Street”, a special zoning classification that is intended to preserve a block’s existing pedestrian-oriented character.

Designating a block, or two properties, as a P-Street carries some hefty requirements: No businesses can have a drive-through here, car-oriented businesses auto repair shops and carwashes are banned, and there are design requirements for new construction and renovations that ensure among other features, a transparent façade between the pedestrian and the business.

Normally this block of Ashland Ave. wouldn’t ever get such a designation because it has little ground floor commercial and retail. A block to the west, however, is Lincoln Avenue, which has its own P-Street designation and has a lot of ground floor commercial and retail uses.

The only benefit that I could think of, before asking Pawar’s office, was that the P-Street designation would increase the allowable distance a property could be and still build little or no car parking.

A mixed use-zoned property within 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) of a CTA or Metra station has a minimum parking requirement of 50 percent of normally required; if that property is on a P-Street, then the distance doubles to 2,640 feet (1/2 mile). A property owner can get that minimum parking requirement down to zero if they apply through the “administrative adjustment” process.

The property at 3720 N Ashland Ave is about 172 feet from the maximum distance of the Addison Brown Line station, and the property at 3722 N Ashland Ave. is about 323 feet away.

Ernie Constantino, the planning & development director, confirmed my guess, saying that “without the pedestrian street [designation], it was just shy of the 1/4 mile requirement.”

The pink line shows where the city's shortest "Pedestrian Street" zoning designation will be.
The pink line shows where the city’s shortest “Pedestrian Street” zoning designation will be.

The property owner, Robert Managan, intends to build a 4-story building with 12 dwelling units and a single ground floor commercial or retail space with only four parking spaces. Normally, the owner would have to provide 12 car parking spaces for the residences, but zero spaces for the commercial use because it’s too small.

Constantino also said the 47th Ward office designated another short Pedestrian Street on the east side of Clark Street between Ainslie and Argyle for a development at 4906-18 N Clark, a length of about 150 feet. That property is 1,056 feet shy of being in the normal TOD area.

  • F. Hayek 69

    Sounds like someone made the right campaign donation.

  • Carter O’Brien

    3700 block of Ashland and “pedestrian character”? Nope.

    This is several true city blocks and then some from Lincoln, I’m not seeing any connectivity in that regard. What are these people going to do, get off at the Addison L, walk several long blocks to the TJ’s and then over an 1/8th of a mile to complete the journey home? Maybe they’ll walk to Martyr’s, I suppose.

    Anyone want to bet what an audit of the residents’ driving habits will reveal? This is the kind of project that proves TOD skeptics correct.

  • ardecila

    Or, you know, maybe the building residents will take the bus? Ashland has both local and express service and is one of the most frequent lines in the city. Ashland itself is not a bustling commercial street but Southport and Lincoln are, just 5 minutes away. It’s very easy to live without a car in this location, both Jewel and TJs within an easy walk, and countless bars/restaurants.

    Tons of people live car-free in Chicago and they’re not on the doorstep of an L stop. If Pawar is serious, he can have the building address excluded from any neighborhood parking permits…

  • “No businesses can have a drive-through” unless of course that business is McDonalds and it’s Milwaukee Ave in Logan Square. I know Steven knows all about that one.

  • Buddha_Dharma

    Criminal “developer” pays kickbacks to criminal AlderCreature’s campaign fund to trash urban planning and zoning so they can make gobs more money in profit while still charging ungodly amounts for shitbox “luxury” apartments. How many times are going to let these scumbags profit at the expense of the integrity of our city before we stop then? TOD money making scam to line the pockets of developers who don’t even live in Chicago and our so called city “leaders”

  • Carter O’Brien

    Sure, maybe. But that’s making a lot of assumptions, and as with this entire program there is zero in the way of evidence. The scientific method is not terribly hard to apply here, CDOT could find grad students looking for capstone projects at any number of universities. Just survey and analyze TOD residents at varying distances from varying transit assets to see how the assumptions hold. I think we’d see great results for buildings on the doorstep of the L. This address strikes me as a crapshoot. This is nearly at the end of the line for the bus going north, Lincoln is not close, Southport is more likely to be used, but that Jewel is a bit of a haul for serious grocery shopping, and to fold smaller trips into a commute home means a few extra blocks from the L. Just not seeing this as a logical fit for TOD, this fruit is IMO far closer to the top of the tree than hanging at the bottom.

    Regardless, going through all of the red tape to apply P street designation using TOD as the underlying principle, to this single property, is a complete abuse of the system and a waste of taxpayer resources. Do you truly believe this shows a serious intent to make a difference in the transit sector?

  • ardecila

    “Do you truly believe this shows a serious intent to make a difference in the transit sector?”

    >>I think it’s Ald. Pawar’s attempt to stretch the (highly flawed) zoning code to support a denser, more sustainable city.

    For those of us in the real estate industry, and the politicians we negotiate with, the zoning code is just a game to be played. The spirit and intent of each provision don’t really matter. Usually alders abuse the zoning code to severely restrict multifamily and insist on more parking, so it’s refreshing to see an alderman doing the opposite. (Pawar for Mayor!)

    Ultimately, I do believe we shouldn’t have a system that makes planning decisions on the whims of the individual alders, but I don’t think it’s politically possible to take this power away from them.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I give you points for candor, but would you actually market these as TOD housing? (“No parking, but just mere steps from shopping on Southport and Trader Joe’s”)

    Also hard to see how these would appeal to families; multi-unit and multi-family aren’t interchangeable.

    I do get the hate the game not the player, but I am not on board with the two wrongs make a right approach to zoning. You won’t get elected mayor of Podunkville with this middling kind of approach, it does suggest of some kind of backroom deal.

    That said, if the price actually reflects developer savings related to having no parking, that is a worthy win.

  • JacobEPeters

    All streets that have at least 1 property w/ a commercial non auto-oriented zoning should be P-streets. It should require public meetings to undue that default designation, so that an Alder has to defend why they don’t think that a street should be designed for walkability.

  • No matter what their driving habits are, they’ll have to compete for parking with so many other people ;)

  • I doubt that the developer would market these as TOD units. Also, marketing something as a TOD unit doesn’t mean anything.

    What Pawar is doing is a novel way to get around outdated zoning code that requires parking when it should, in many cases, require no parking and have a maximum on the amount of parking that can be added.

  • Carter O’Brien

    IMO if they aren’t being marketed as transit-friendly that pulls the rug out from under the basic underlying assumptions behind TOD.

    I don’t really see any big issue with this particular property not having parking, this seems like a very expensive and bureaucratically bloated way to go about it. P-street designation should be restriced for stretches of at least 1/4 of a mile to be worth the hassle.

  • Cameron Puetz

    As far as how to market it, the property won’t be drastically different than a renovated unit in one of the many vintage courtyard buildings around that neighborhood.

  • Cameron Puetz

    I don’t have a problem with a building being built there with no parking. However designating one building on one of the least pedestrian friendly streets in the ward as P-Street seems really stupid.

  • Obesa Adipose

    That drive thru existed before the designation.

  • JKM13

    Blame the zoning and parking requirements that require jumping through all these hoops to build a simple building that offers more offstreet parking than any of the dozens of pre-wwII apartments in the nearby area.


City Seeks Transit-Friendly Development Near Howard Station

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development is looking for the right developer for vacant city-owned property near the Howard CTA station. Last week, the city released a request for proposals for the 1.05 acre parcel at 7519-33 N Ashland Avenue, between Howard and Rogers Avenue, and asked specifically for transit-friendly and walkable development proposals. The site […]

44-Unit TOD Building Proposed at an Abandoned Drive-Through in Bucktown

A proposal for a transit-oriented development in Bucktown is going before the Chicago Plan Commission for approval this Thursday. River North-based developer Vequity wants to build a six-story residential tower with minimal parking at the southeast corner of Milwaukee and Western avenues in Bucktown, right next door to the Western stop on the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch. Vequity needs the Plan Commission to approve a […]

Now the Jeff Park NIMBYs Are Fighting Arena’s P-Street Proposal

The Jefferson Park NIMBYs are at it again. First they went nuclear over the city’s proposal for a road diet with protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue, which would have reduced speeding and crashes, and created more people-friendly retail strips. Now they’re freaking out about 45th Ward Alderman John Arena’s proposed ordinance to designate a […]

Zoning Committee Passes Watered Down TOD Ordinance

Last Wednesday, the City Council zoning committee passed Mayor Emanuel’s proposed ordinance allowing more walkable, less car-oriented development near train stations. But before the vote, the legislation was watered down with an amendment that makes it harder to construct buildings with lower volumes of car parking. Under the amendment [PDF], commercial developments that include less […]

When Removing a Pedestrian Street Designation, Proceed With Caution

Shaun Jacobsen is the author of Transitized.  Last June, 46th ward Alderman James Cappleman proposed removing the Pedestrian Street designation on six blocks radiating from the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence in Uptown. The proposed removal raised some eyebrows. Was a developer planning to build something that wouldn’t fit the criteria of a P-Street, like a […]