DPD denies approval for car-centric 6 Corners Project that is “significantly overparked”

Rendering of the proposed development, which would squander the land on 834 parking spots.
Rendering of the proposed development, which would squander the land on 834 parking spots.

Last month the Chicago Department of Planning and Development turned down a proposed planned development in the Portage Park community called The Shops at Six Corners, partly due to the department’s assessment that the auto-centirc plan includes too much car parking. The project is proposed by GW Properties for the old People’s Gas site at 3955 N. Kilpatrick Ave, located just east of the six-way Irving Park/Cicero/Milwauke intersection, and a few blocks northwest of Metra’s Grayland station.

According to a June 2020 Nadig Newspapers report, the developer’s plans called for about 125,000 square feet of of commercial space, including a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, and three other stores or restaurants. One of the potential tenants would have a drive-through, and part of the six-acre site would have a 40,000-square-foot second floor. The proposal called for a staggering 834 parking spaces, with most of the land gobbled up by surface parking.

Layout of the proposal. Image via Nadig Newspapers
Layout of the proposal. Image via Nadig Newspapers

GW was seeking approval of a map amendment to rezone the property from RS-3 to B3-1, and a planned development to establish a large commercial development. In a letter that was sent on January 22 to the developer and local alderman James Gardiner (45th), posted on Twitter yesterday by the account The People’s Fabric, DPD’s lead coordinating planner James Harris stated that the department was withholding its support until significant plan revisions are made.

The letter noted that community stakeholders wanted to see the site developed to medium-scale density with a mix of commercial and residential land uses. DPD received a letter of objection from Old Irving Park Associaition, Six Corners Association, Old Irving Pointe HOA, Old Irving Park Basecamp HOA, and Six Corners Organizing for Progress & Engagement. Harris stated that GW should engage in a community-led visioning process before resubmitting its application.

The letter added that the project should have a housing component, or at least a portion of the site should be reserved for future residential development. “The department does not support an all-commercial development.”

Regarding transportation, traffic, circulation, and parking, DPD had the following requirements for GW:

  • Submit a review packet for approval by the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Plan Review Committee, including a traffic study.
  • Ingress and egress should be provided only from Kilpatrick Avenue, the side street to the west of the site. The department is opposed to having driveways on Irving Park, the same position recently taken for a new Northwestern Medicine clinic a few blocks west.
  • A parking demand analysis “if the revised proposal remains significantly overparked.”
  • Multilevel garage parking should be built to minimize surface parking lots.
  • Separate pedestrian pathways should be provided to connect adjacent sidewalks and CTA bus stops to building entrances. Crosswalks should be striped where these pedestrian routes cross traffic lanes.

The DPD letter also stated design guidelines, such avoiding large expanses of blank walls in areas with heavy foot traffic. It argued, “The current proposal does not meet the standards of design excellence. Building design should consider and respect the character of the existing building stock in the Six Corners neighborhood.”

DPD did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Streetsblog on how it determines that a project is “overparked.”

Commenters on Twitter applauded DPD’s move to put the brakes on this car-centric proposal. “DPD’s letter is so beautiful, I almost cried!” said one person. “Upholding the wisdom of the [Six Corners Economic Development] Master Plan! There’s no doubt that residential is essential to Six Corner businesses.”

Check out the proposal for the People’s Gas site here.

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