Chicago developers jump on city’s parking minimum reduction

| March 3, 2014

In a first for Chicago urban planning, Centrum Partners has proposed plans for a five-to-seven story rental building near the city’s Paulina transit stop along the Brown Line. The kicker? The development will offer just nine parking spaces.

The proposal takes advantage of a local ordinance passed last year that lowers the required number of parking spots for buildings near transit stations; such new construction is called transit-oriented development (TOD). The majority of Chicago’s regulations require developers of most new residential buildings to provide a large amount of off-street car parking, which city planners argue isn’t critical in areas where users have easy access to public transit.


Paulina el station, Chicago

This humble el station – Paulina, in Chicago – is kickstarting Transit Oriented Development, and saving acres of parking space. From Genial23.

Centrum Partners is testing the city’s policies with its proposal. Previously, one parking spot per unit would’ve been required under Chicago’s old zoning ordinance, which would’ve meant 31 to 48 parking spaces, since Centrum is planning for that number of apartments, as well as 6,000 square feet of first-floor retail.

The TOD ordinance allows just half as many spaces at developments within 600 feet of a transit station, but Centrum has requested a variance from 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar that will bring the number of required spaces to just nine. Pawar has hinted his approval.

However, the project has received criticism from neighbors convinced that adding more housing to the area demands more parking. “The opposition is small but vocal,” says Graham Palmer, a principal at Centrum. “As the developer, we’re the ones who are willing to invest a lot of money into this space that doesn’t have parking, and if we can’t lease it, that’s our problem.”

Palmer does believe that Centrum will be able to lease the units, though. “Many people who live close to a train are doing so because they don’t have a car,” he says. “If you look at listings, housing near transit is more expensive, but people can afford to pay for it because they don’t have the expenses that come from financing a car, gas, maintenance, you name it.”

He continues, voicing support of the city’s TOD policies: “Statistics show that when you build an apartment near transit, there might be parking spaces, but they’re generally underutilized. Even for buildings far from transit, the one-to-one parking requirements might not really be necessary.”

Currently, Alderman Pawar is waiting to hear from the West Lakeview Neighbors and the Roscoe Neighbors on the project. The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, as well as 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, who would’ve reviewed the proposal under the boundaries of the old ward, have already weighed in on the proposal, expressing excitement and support.

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Category: Parking, Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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