I am writing about a proposal to construct a four-story parking structure that will accommodate 250 vehicles. The parking structure is proposed for thesoutheast corner of Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue (7317-31 N. Sheridan).
The proposal requires a zoning change, two zoning variances and review under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance.
I held a community-wide meeting on the proposal last January and hosted several smaller meetings with neighborhood residents and community organizations during the winter and spring months. The proposal also was reviewed extensively by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and representatives of the major community organizations in the ward that advises me on all zoning and land use issues that come before me.
After careful consideration of the opinions and suggestions of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Advisory Committee and the scores of residents who attended the meetings or corresponded with my office, I have decided to SUPPORT the development of the parking structure.
Below are the details of the proposal and my reasons for supporting it:
Tawani Enterprises, Inc., proposes constructing and operating a four-story parking structure at7317 and 7331 N. Sheridan (see photo of property on right). The parking structure would accommodate 250 cars and would be built on two parcels of land located at the southeast corner of Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue.
A two-and-a-half-story structure, formerly home to the Shambhala Meditation Center, rests on the northern-most parcel. Shambhala sold the building voluntarily to the developer and has moved to more spacious quarters in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The building will be demolished to make way for the parking structure.
The parcel just to the south of the Shambhala property hosts a surface parking lot. An 18-by-60-foot strip of vacant land, on which Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees are sold in season, lies in front of the parking lot (see photos on left).
Of the facility’s 250 parking spaces, 84 spaces will be set aside exclusively for monthly and daily parking for neighborhood residents and their guests. Another 60 spaces will be set aside for monthly parking for residents of Farcroft by the Lake, a 12-story building at 1337 W. Fargo, which the developer recently renovated.
The remaining 106 spaces will be reserved for guests attending events at the Emil Bach House, a Frank Lloyd Wright home at 7415 N. Sheridan, which the developer is also renovating. These 106 spaces would be available to neighborhood residents and their guests when not being used for Emil Bach House events.
Thus, on most days, as many as 190 parking spaces will be available for community residents. And given that no Emil Bach events are anticipated beyond 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., 190 parking spaces will always be available to the community in the overnight hours when parking in the neighborhood is at a premium.
Monthly parking rents will be $130 a month for Farcroft residents and $150 a month for the general public. Hourly parking also will be available to the public at the following rates:
- 30 minutes — $1.00
- 30-60 minutes — $2.00
- Two hours — $4.00
- Three hours — $6.00
- Daily Maximum — $8.00
- Overnight parking — $4.00
The proposed parking structure will be clad in a variety of materials, including painted concrete, face brick and channel glass panels. The channel glass will contain over 60% recycled material. The glass panels and brick will cover the west and north facades and portions of the east and west facades. The channel glass panels the developer plans to use are nearly identical to those used on a parking structure at Dearborn and Kinzie Streets (see photo on right).
The parking structure will feature approximately 5,000 square feet of green space at ground level via streetscape planters, trees and grassy areas. The planted areas will be located on all sides of the building. In addition, approximately 800 square feet of greenery will be located on the roof deck in perimeter planters.
The development team plans to set aside parking spaces for shared automobile programs, such as I-GO orZip Car, and charging stations for electric cars. The development team also pledges to install bike racks in the facility.
The parking structure will be accessed off Sherwin Avenue. To reduce any potential for congestion on Sherwin, the entrance to the parking structure will feature space for three cars to queue at the ticket dispenser, eliminating potential back-up as parkers retrieve tickets.
To enhance pedestrian safety on Sherwin, the proposed development includes an audible/visual warning system and an additional barricade at the exit of the parking structure that will remain down while pedestrians are passing in front of the driveway.
Finally, several security measures are incorporated in the proposed development, including:
- Emergency Call Boxes located in each stairwell and elevator lobby.
- Security Teams patrolling the building during the evening hours starting at 6:00 p.m. and continuing until 7:00 a.m. each night.
- Maintenance Teamspatrolling the building during daylight hours to empty trash and clean up any unsightly areas.
- Security Cameras installed throughout the building to discourage any unsavory activity.
The property currently is zoned RT-4. The parking structure requires a zoning change to a B1-5 classification.
Additionally, the proposed development requires two zoning variations, one on the north (Sherwin Avenue) side and one on the east side.
The proposed structure would front on Sheridan Road with side yards on the north and south sides and a rear yard on the east side (see floor plan above). A B1-5 zoning classification requires a side yard setback of at least 5.58 feet from the lot line. The development team is asking the City to allow a variation from the setback requirement to permit a one-foot setback from the lot line (approximately three feet from the sidewalk) for a tiny portion of the north (Sherwin) side of the structure. They need the setback variance to accommodate the parking structure’s main staircase, which is located on the northwest corner of the structure. For the vast majority of the Sherwin Avenue side, however, the developer is proposing a setback of 3.67 feet from the lot line (approximately six feet from the sidewalk).
The setback on the south side of the proposed structure is 12 feet from the lot line to the building, which is well within the side yard setback requirements for a B1-5 zoning classification.
A B1-5 zoning classification also requires a rear yard setback of at least 2.7 feet. The development team is requesting a zoning variation to allow for a setback of one-foot for approximately 70 feet at the east end of the building. This will permit them to build around a detached two-car garage that abuts the property. The setback for the remaining 130 feet of the building’s east side is approximately 20 feet, which is well within the setback requirements.
A B1-5 zoning classification does not require a front yard setback. Nonetheless, the development will be set back six feet from the lot line on Sheridan Road and approximately eight feet from the sidewalk.
To view the site plans, floor plans and elevations that have been submitted to the City, click on the attachment below:
Any zoning or land use proposal in the 49th Ward that requires my approval or support undergoes anextensive evaluation process. The process employed with the parking structure proposal was one of the most most lengthy and thorough evaluations of any proposal since the Gateway Center development in the mid-1990s.
As with all proposals, evaluation of the parking structure proposal started with a review by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, a committee of neighborhood residents and representatives of the major community organizations in the ward. The Committee met with the development team in five separate meetings between August 2012 and March 2013.
I also hosted a community-wide meeting on the proposal in January that was attended by approximately 100 people. In addition, the developers made presentations to and took input from the members of the Planning and Development Committee of the Rogers Park Business Alliance and the Rogers Park Builders Group.
At my request, the developers also met with the residents of the Levy House, a senior citizen home located immediately east of the proposed development. Also at my request, the developers met with other neighborhood residents who live in the area surrounding the proposed development. I met with many of those same residents together with other nearby residents at a subsequent meeting.
At each meeting, the development team refined its proposal to address the concerns and suggestions presented to them. As a result of input from the 49th Ward Zoning Committee, meetings with neighborhood residents and community groups and thoughtful emails to my office, the overall size of the building was reduced, its aesthetic appearance was improved, the amount of setback distance from Sheridan Road was increased and additional safety measures were put in place.
August 2012 Meeting of the 49th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee
The development team presented its initial proposal to the 49th Ward Zoning Committee in August 2012. The original design (see rendering on the right) proposed a red brick basket weave exterior and provided for access to the parking garage off of Sheridan Road. The Committee expressed great concern about the safety of the Sheridan Road access and objected to the overall appearance of the building’s exterior, including the color of the brick facade, the “blank wall” appearance of the ground floor, and the lack of variety on the west (Sheridan) wall exterior.
As a result of the Committee’s input, the development team met with the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation, which recommended relocating the automobile entrance from Sheridan Road to Sherwin Avenue to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety.
The developers also made the following additional changes to the building’s exterior:
- Revised the first floor façade to include additional window openings and depth through a series of brick “landscape feature” walls along Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue to break up the expanse of the façade and create a better pedestrian experience.
- Elevated the height of the first floor facade to align with and relate to the ground floor height of the neighboring building to the south at 7301 N. Sheridan.
- Revised the channel glass composition to break up the length of the west wall along Sheridan Road, using varying lengths, orientations and finishes.
- Added a canopy along Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue to further articulate the first floor façade.
- Changed the face brick color to complement the neighboring architecture.
- Added raised planting beds along Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue to enhance the landscape.
- Provided controls to ensure that the fire stair door located at the southeast corner of the building allowed for egress only.
At my suggestion, the developers also scheduled several meetings with the Planning and Development Committee of the Rogers Park Business Alliance.
October 2012 Meeting of the 49th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee
The developers met with the Zoning Committee again in October. The Committee expressed appreciation for the improvements to the west and north facades, but noted those same improvements needed to made to the first floor of the building’s south facade. The Committee also suggested adding electric vehicle charging stations and providing bike racks.
As the result of the Committee’s input, the development team made the following additional changes to the proposed project:
- Added face brick, windows, and canopy to the first level of the south wall.
- Provided electric vehicle charging stations.
- Provided bike racks.
November 2012 Meeting of the 49th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee
The Committee members expressed appreciation for the changes the development team made as a result of their input. They expressed the opinion that the proposal was sufficiently vetted to present to the wider community for its input and review. Accordingly they recommended I hold a community-wide meeting on the proposal.
January 2013 Community Meeting
I hosted a community-wide meeting on the proposal in January that was attended by approximately 100 people. About two-thirds of those who spoke at the meeting expressed opposition to the proposal. The concerns expressed included the height and mass of the structure, the perceived lack of a sufficient setback on the Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue sides of the building, the loss of both green space and an “historic” building on the site, traffic volume and safety, potential criminal activity inside the structure, and encouragement of more car ownership in the neighborhood.
Those who spoke in support of the proposed project expressed the need for more parking in the neighborhood and the hope that the parking structure would help alleviate the chronic shortage of on-street parking in Rogers Park. Others expressed appreciation for Tawani’s other developments in the neighborhood and cited the developer’s reputation for excellence.
The notice for the community meeting generated approximately 70 emails and telephone calls to my office and postings on my Facebook page. Those who shared their opinions through those means were evenly divided, with supporters and opponents expressing substantially the same arguments that were presented at the community meeting.
I also received a petition signed by 39 residents of the Levy House next door to the proposed development, expressing concern with traffic congestion, construction noise, operational noise, crime, and pedestrian safety. Finally, I received an online petition against the proposal signed by 369 individuals, of whom a little more than half (55%) were actual registered voters in the 49th Ward.
As a result of the opinions and ideas expressed at the community meeting and in the correspondence to my office, the developers made the following modifications to their proposal:
- Increased the use of renewable materials in the construction of the project.
- Employed water conservation and storm water management strategies to minimize water run-off into the City sewer system.
- Pledged to provide regularly scheduled security patrols.
- Pledged to provide additional security cameras and emergency call stations.
- Provided additional “window” elements to the upper façade to further break up the elevation.
- Extended rooftop planting beds along the east and south elevations.
- Removed the exterior signage placeholder that had been placed on the western façade.
February 2013 Meeting of the 49th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee
The Committee discussed the results of the community meeting. I reported that based on the concerns expressed at the community meeting about the overall height and mass of the building, I had asked the developers to explore options that would reduce the height of the structure and increase the setbacks on Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue.
The Committee voted to defer any recommendation on the proposal until the developers explored the options and reported back their findings.
In the interim, I asked the developers to also explore an idea proposed to me in an email sent by Rogers Park architect Betsy Downs. Betsy proposed increasing the setback of the parking structure at the street/pedestrian level by approximately two feet and cantilevering the upper floors of the parking structure out to the original dimension. Under Betsy’s proposal, the ground floor setback from the sidewalk would be increased from six feet to eight feet.
March 2013 Meeting of the 49th Ward Zoning Advisory Committee
The developers appeared before the Zoning Advisory Committee at the March 2013 meeting and reported that at my request, they had explored the option of lowering the parking structure to one grade below street level. This option would require excavating below street level and ventilating the lower level. The developers indicated their strong belief that a partially enclosed parking structure would be a less inviting space and would pose a potential security risk given the lack of visibility to the lower level.
In addition, the ramping system for the building would need to be revised creating more ramps and eliminating parking spaces.
The developers also reported they had studied an option of reducing the overall length of the parking structure to increase the setback on Sherwin. However, they explained this was not a feasible option as the existing building length was necessary to accommodate the ramping to the required floor-to-floor height.
Finally, the developers reported they had explored an option of reducing the width of the parking structure to increase the setback on Sheridan. They studied reducing the drive aisles and length of spaces to achieve a greater setback. The new layout would require most standard and large vehicles to perform a three-point turn to pull into or out of a parking space. They believed this would pose a safety hazard and hence was not a feasible option.
However, they believed Betsy Downs idea of increasing the ground floor setback by two feet and cantilevering the upper floors to the original setback was sound and made the development even more aesthetically attractive. Accordingly, they indicated they would modify the development plans to incorporate Betsy’s idea.
The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee’s Recommendation
In discussion following the developers’ presentation, the Committee members accepted as sound and reasonable the developers’ explanations of why they could not lower the height or substantially increase the setbacks. The Committee members asserted their belief that the developers had worked hard over several months to address many of the concerns expressed both by the Committee and the community as a whole.
One Committee member expressed the strong view that ground floor retail space should be incorporated into the development proposal. Other Committee members, however, accepted the developers’ argument that the market not would support additional retail at the location and that it would either add height to the building or reduce the amount of available parking.
Most Committee members shared the view that parking in the neighborhood was sorely needed and that this might be the only opportunity to substantially address the parking shortage, as it was unlikely an ordinary developer would propose such a structure.
Accordingly, the Committee voted overwhelmingly, with one member dissenting, to recommend that I support the proposed parking structure.
Before I made a final decision, however, I continued to solicit community input, and the developers continued to make modifications to their proposal.
April and May 2013 Meetings with Levy House Residents and Administrators
The developers and I met in April and May 2013 with the residents and administrators of the Levy House, the senior citizen home just east of the proposed development. They were concerned about noise and glare emanating from the parking structure. They also expressed concerned about the appearance of the structure’s eastern facade. Finally, they were concerned about the dangers that cars exiting the parking structure might pose to them as they walked down Sherwin Avenue.
In response to those concerns, the development team made the following changes to their design:
- Added brick and window elements to approximately 40 feet of the east elevation to reduce noise and glare.
- Added planting beds and landscape along the eastern wall to enhance the views from the Levy Center building.
- Pledged to paint the concrete east and south facadesin a color compatible with the masonry on the main staircase and first floor facades on the Sheridan and Sherwin sides of the building.
- Changed the long horizontal openings on the south and east elevations to smaller punched openings where possible.
- Pledged to include an audible/visual warning system and an additional barricade for the exit of the parking structure that will remain in the down position while pedestrians are passing in front of the driveway.
I support the proposed parking structure for three reasons. First, it offers our community a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide real relief to literally hundreds of Rogers Park residents who own an automobile but do not enjoy the amenity of off-street parking.
Parking in Rogers Park has been a challenge for generations. And as more and more failed condominiums return to the rental market and become occupied again, the parking problem is only getting worse. The parking structure will not solve the problem, but taking up to 250 cars off the streets of Rogers Parkcertainly will be a significant help.
I call this project a “once in a lifetime opportunity” because it is highly unlikely any other developer will build a parking facility of this size in the foreseeable future. It’s not by mere coincidence that no privately financed, stand-alone parking structure has been built in Rogers Park since World War II despite years of chronic parking shortages. The economics simply don’t work. For the average developer, the revenues realized from stand-alone parking facilities simply don’t justify the cost of construction in most Chicago neighborhoods, including Rogers Park.
Fortunately for Rogers Park, we have a developer investing in our neighborhood for whom the usual return on investment rules do not apply. It is no secret that Tawani Enterprises is backed by a member of the Pritzker family, Colonel J.N. Pritzker. Colonel Pritzker is a committed preservationist who has invested heavily in our neighborhood, restoring architectural gems, such as the Mayne Stage, Farcroft by the Lake,Cat’s Cradle Bed and Breakfast, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Emil Bach House.
Though he does not intend to lose money on the parking structure, Colonel Pritzker is able to wait much longer than the average investor to recover his investment.
The high quality of the construction of the parking facility provides the second reason for me to support this proposed development. This is not your run-of-the-mill neighborhood parking garage. Tawani plans to use construction materials and green elements of far greater quality than found in most other parking structures. The channel glass panels that will grace the exterior walls of the building will make this parking structure unlike any other. It will be a stunning addition to Sheridan Road.
Finally, I’m supporting this project because of the development team, their commitment to the neighborhood and their willingness to engage our community. From last August when this proposal was first presented to me and the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, to the present time, Tawani Enterprises continually listened and responded to the community’s suggestions and concerns and willingly incorporated dozens of suggestions into the building’s design. The result was a greatly improved product that stands as a testament to the value of community engagement.
If all developers were as open and willing to accept constructive suggestions to their projects as Tawani, my job as alderman would be much easier and our community would be better for it.
Unlike many other developers, Tawani has embedded itself into the fabric of the community and undoubtedly will invest in other high quality projects in our neighborhood in the years to come. They should be encouraged to do so.
The Proposed Parking Structure Meets the Needs of the Community Today.
A number of neighborhood residents have expressed concern that construction of the parking structure would run counter to our efforts to decrease car ownership and dependence on automobiles
As a strong environmentalist and supporter of efforts to make Chicago and the 49th Ward more sustainable, I fully support efforts to encourage people to bike and take public transportation. This is why I’ve overseen the creation of bike racks and shared and dedicated bike lanes throughout the 49th Ward, successfully urged the CTA to create a bike parking area at the Lunt entrance to the Morse “L” station, and sponsored annual community bike rides.
It is also why I worked hard to convince the CTA to build a new transit center at Howard Streetand celebrated the new renovations of the Loyola, Morse and Jarvis stations. And it’s why I asked Tawani to include car sharing in the parking structure project. The more accessible and inviting we make bicycling, public transit and car sharing, the more we can convince people to abandon their automobiles.
Though I can dream and strive for a better tomorrow, I must also recognize the realities of the world as it is today.
For thousands of people in our neighborhood today, an automobile is not a luxury, but a necessity. They may work odd shifts or have jobs or families in the suburbs where public transit options are rare or non-existent. The Rogers Park resident who owns a car may be a salesman who must travel from a mid-morning appointment in Bolingbrook to a lunch time meeting in Schaumberg. She may be a registered nurse who works the second shift at County Hospital and is uncomfortable riding the CTA after midnight. She may be a daughter who makes the daily trek to Itasca to care for her aging mother.
In short, not everyone in Rogers Park can survive without a car. Not everyone is retired. Not everyone works from home or works downtown where public transit is easily accessible. Not everyone enjoys the luxury of owning a garage or the good fortune of identifying and leasing one of our community’s rare off-street parking spots. And not everyone possesses the physical ability to ride a bicycle, especially in Chicago’s long winter months.
Until the day public transportation becomes truly accessible throughout the entire Chicago region, automobiles will remain a part of our urban landscape.
Rogers Park is home to all kinds of people with different needs and varied lifestyles and values. If we are to be a truly tolerant community, we must accept the fact that some of our neighbors require the use of an automobile. Many car owners find themselves stuck in their home at night, reluctant to give up their on-street parking space. Others who drive home late at night, endlessly circle the neighborhood looking for parking, burning up fossil fuel and emitting carbon in the process. Providing those people with an easy and accessible location to store their car after a long day at work or after a late night dinner and show will add immeasurably to the quality of their life.
We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can work to achieve a more sustainable world while at the same time dealing with the realities of today.
The Proposed Parking Structure is Compatible with Sheridan Road’s Diverse and Eclectic Architecture, Character and Heritage.
A number of opponents of the parking structure claim it is incompatible with Sheridan Road. Some call it a “car tower” and assert it’s out of scale and too tall and not set back sufficiently from the street. They also allege its design and features don’t honor the history, character and architectural aesthetic of the street.
A drive down Sheridan Road from the City limits to Devon reveals not one architectural style and character, but many. The road is as diverse and eclectic as the neighborhood it runs through.
It is a mix of multi-story condo and rental buildings, multi-story health care and retirement facilities, a 13-story remodeled former luxury hotel, a multi-story motel, a bar, a commercial bed and breakfast, a pre-school, gasoline service stations, fast food sandwich shops, corner grocery stores, coffee houses, a commercial tailor and cleaning service, hair salons and other commercial operations.
Single family homes, though present, are in the distinct minority and insufficient to establish a “traditionally residential character” for the neighborhood. As the photos below demonstrate, the character is clearly “mixed use.”
Those who claim the parking structure is a “car tower” and out of scale with the surrounding community simply ignore the significant number of large buildings that predominate the area. As the “massing study” below indicates, the proposed parking structure is comparable to and, in many cases, smaller than many of its nearby buildings:
In fact, the buildings immediately next door to the parking structure actually will tower over the proposed structure, not vice versa. As the link to the video below demonstrates, the Levy House, located immediately to the east of the proposed structure, is twice as tall.
The building at 7301 N. Sheridan, located immediately to the south of the proposed structure, is also double the height of the proposed structure.
Levy House, 1221 W. Sherwin
7301 N. Sheridan
The structure is set back approximately six feet from the sidewalk on Sherwin and eight feet from the sidewalk on Sheridan. Some say the setbacks are not enough and object to the parking structure because they say it is too close to the sidewalks on Sheridan and Sherwin.
Again, the opponents critique the parking structure as if it existed in a vacuum. Those who assert the setbacks are incompatible with the surrounding area ignore the fact that all the buildings on Sherwin east of the development site have little or no setbacks and that many buildings up and down Sheridan Road also have little or no setbacks (see photos below for some examples).
1200 block of Sherwin, looking east from the proposed parking structure site.
1200 block of Sherwin looking west toward the proposed parking structure site.
7231-41 N. Sheridan
6971-81 N. Sheridan
7100-20 N. Sheridan
Some oppose the parking structure because they claim it fails to pay homage to the history of Sheridan Road. They harken to a perceived time when Sheridan was a stately tree-lined boulevard, lined with elegant mansions along a pristine lakefront. They allege the parking structure is yet another “nail in the coffin” of Sheridan Road’s historic residential character.
The fatal flaw in this argument is that the Sheridan Road they describe never existed. Before the interstate highway system was built, Sheridan Road served as one of the main thoroughfares connecting Chicago to Milwaukee. It had its share of single family homes, some of them quite large, but like any highway in its day, Sheridan was also lined with gas stations and large billboards that marred the lakefront. It also had a surprising number of vacant lots.
In short, Sheridan Road was as varied and eclectic then as it is today.
Thanks to an excellent Illinois Department of Transportation Chicago Traffic Photographs collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago, we can compare the actual Sheridan Road of the 1930s against the mythical Sheridan Road claimed by individuals who were not alive 70 years ago. Below is a link to the collection and some of the more interesting photographs of Sheridan contained in the collection:
The Building Slated for Demolition Possesses No Architectural or Historical Significance Whatsoever
Another objection raised is that an “historic” and architecturally significant home and Buddhist meditation center will be destroyed to make way for the parking structure. The existing building at 7331 N. Sheridan, formerly owned by an international franchise operation, is not historic by any measure or definition. In fact it is in such serious disrepair that the former owners could not justify the business investment necessary for its restoration.
As a consequence, they sold the property willingly. They were not forced out by powerful investors.Shambala International, a meditation center franchise operation and business affiliate of the Naropa Institute, freely entered into a business transaction that was favorable to their international portfolio of investments.
The original building was a post-Victorian “American Foursquare”, also called a “Prairie Box.” The home was re-purposed over the years, first as a day care center, then a medical center, then a meditation center. An inelegant box was added as an enclosed front porch and another inelegant box was extended to the south. Any original architectural purity expressed by the home long since disappeared.
The home is not large enough to be considered a “mansion” (generally defined as a single family residence of more than 8,000 square feet). It is not listed on any historical register, nor has anyone of historical note ever resided there.
The Proposed Parking Structure Withstands Scrutiny under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance
Another misconception raised by the critics is that the Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance protects the property and its existing structure. That objection is based on an erroneous and flawed understanding of the Ordinance, the principal purposes of which are to protect the water quality of Lake Michigan, the character and nature of adjacent public park lands and the shoreline from erosion.
The Ordinance speaks not at all to historic districts, architectural designs, aesthetic heritage or the permissible uses of privately owned properties. As long as a proposed development does not degrade or injure the Lake’s water, shoreline and adjacent parks, it will pass muster under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance.
The proposed parking structure at issue here is not adjacent to any lakefront parkland and is separated from the Lake’s water and shoreline by four large apartment buildings, three of which are taller and more massive than the proposed structure itself. As the illustration below demonstrates, the structure will be barely visible from the lakefront:
Building profile as seen from the lakefront at Sherwin beach
The Proposed Parking Structure will Result in Minimal Loss of Green Space
Though some “open space” will be lost through the construction of the parking structure, very little of it is “green.” A significant majority of that open space is paved concrete and asphalt. The only turf that can be found is in the front yard of the Shambala Center and an 18 x 60 foot piece of land on the parcel next door. As the photos below demonstrate, the backyard of the Shambala Center is entirely paved and over two thirds of the parcel next door is a paved parking lot.
The backyard of the Shambala Center.
The parking lot immediately south of the Shambala Center
The 18′ x 60′ parcel of green space in front of the parking lot.
The new parking structure will not be devoid of green space. Far from it. The parking structure will featureapproximately 5,000 square feet of green space at ground level via streetscape planters, trees and grassy areas. The planted areas will be located on all sides of the building. In addition, approximately 800 square feet of greenery will be located on the roof deck in perimeter planters.
Unlike the current paved property, where rainwater runs off directly into the City’s sewers, the parking structure will possess a water conservation system, which will divert rainwater from the City sewer’s. Arguably, more water will be saved and reused with the parking structure than is currently the case with the paved property.
The Proposed Parking Structure will be Safe and Secure.
Though safety can never be one hundred percent assured, the development team has put together an extraordinary plan that will greatly minimize any potential risk of criminal activity in the structure. The developers have pledged to place emergency call boxes in each stairwell and elevator lobby and install security cameras throughout the building.
In addition, the developer has agreed to assign security guards to patrol the building starting at 6:00 each night and continuing until 7:00 the following morning. And throughout each day, maintenance teams will patrol the building to empty trash and clean up any unsightly areas.
The security of the facility is even more enhanced by the visible presence of the developers in the neighborhood. Tawani is not some distant parking lot management company. Rather, they own and manage several nearby properties whose success is greatly dependent upon the safety and security of the parking facility.
The Proposed Parking Structure has Measures in Place to Safeguard Pedestrians.
Recognizing the parking structure is next door to a senior citizens residence, the developers will implement measures to ensure the safety of pedestrians. The developer has agreed to install the entry gate and ticket dispenser far inside the structure to greatly minimize, if not eliminate, the stacking onto the street of cars waiting to enter the facility. The developer also has agreed to install a second barricade for cars exiting the facility. This barricade will remain down until all pedestrians have cleared the driveway.
Finally, the developer will install an audible/visual system warning pedestrians when a car is about to exit.
Real estate development proposals in Rogers Park often engender intense and passionate debate. The proposed parking structure at Sheridan Road and Sherwin Avenue certainly is no exception. This is to be expected, as the effects of such developments can last for generations.
Though the discussion on the parking structure proposal largely has been thoughtful and civil, a few opponents have chosen to focus on the wealth of the developer and accuse him of attempting to “buy” the neighborhood. This is unfortunate.
I evaluate each and every proposal that comes before me on its merits. Each proposal is subjected to the same rigorous community review process. No one gets special consideration because of who they are or the size of their portfolio. In the case of Colonel Pritzker and his Tawani team, it is their track record, not their wallet that speaks volumes.
Colonel Pritzker and his team have demonstrated, not only in Rogers Park, but elsewhere in the Chicago area that they are highly responsible investors with a personal interest in revitalizing neighborhoods. Witness The Mayne Stage and its Annex, the Emil Bach House, the Cat’s Cradle Bed and Breakfast, the Tawani-owned-and-managed buildings at Jarvis and Greenview and Lunt and Glenwood. Each is a high-quality addition to and durable improvement for Rogers Park. Each has contributed greatly to the revitalization of the neighborhood without a dime of taxpayer subsidy.
The Tawani planning team has demonstrated considerable sensitivity to the needs and concerns of the community, as is evidenced by the series of significant and meaningful revisions to the initial plan based on multiple meetings with our community and me. The fine tuning continued up to this week and undoubtedly will continue as the project progresses.
The vast majority of residents on both sides of the debate have offered up very thoughtful and insightful comments. I have read and listened to each and every one of them and have urged the developers to incorporate many of the comments and suggestions into their proposal.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the community meeting and/or express their views on the proposed parking structure. Our community is filled with people who care passionately about their community. It is one of our ward’s greatest strengths.
If you have any questions or further comments regarding my decision, please feel free to reply to this email.
Perspective from the northwest looking southeast–daytime
Perspective from the northwest looking southeast–evening
Perspective from the southwest looking northeast
Perspective from the west looking east–Sherwin sidewalk
Perspective from the north looking south–Sheridan sidewalk