Chicago Cityscape's '1909' newsletter
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
We made two changes to improve how Pro members receive notifications for companies, including contractors, architects, and owners.
Many companies appear under many names, so you’d have to find all of the variations and subscribe to all of them to ensure you get the right notifications. Now, though, you can subscribe to a name search.
Take the John Buck development company, which has building permits under nearly 20 names. Instead of finding every instance of the company, you can search for “john buck” and subscribe to “john buck”. Any time a company with “john buck” in the name gets a permit, you’ll get notified.
All in one
Members will now get a maximum of one email per day containing all of the updates for all of the companies they’ve subscribed to. Thank you to S.G. for bringing this to our attention.
Not a member yet? Sign up for a free 14-day Pro trial.
Pro members can now track contractors more efficiently was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Can you believe that the largest #opendata consumer in Chicago (us) has been around for three years now? What originally started as “Licensed Chicago Contractors.com” has become a place where over 4,500 people created a Neighbor account, received this newsletter today, and looked up over 200,000 addresses in Cook County over three years.
Has Chicago Cityscape changed how you work? Has the site impacted your industry or community? We want to hear about it, and we want to publish some of these stories as testimonials. If I feature your testimonial on the site, you’ll definitely get a great gift (either a discount on Pro membership, or a cool 2016 Chicago Olympics pin). Leave a comment to send us your testimonial.
- Metra routes are the “sleeping giant” that can reinvigorate development on the South Side and greatly improve access to downtown, while better bus routes are necessary for inter-neighborhood trips (South Side Weekly). If you only read one article this week from this list, it should be this one; Metra is an existing infrastructure that can be used to better serve the South Side but it has been brushed aside by Emanuel’s administration.
- A large section of Rosehill Cemetery on the North Side is for sale, but its deed restricted making $12 million a steep asking price (Curbed)
- Some alders want veto power on approving new business licenses in their wards — say wha? (Crain’s)
- The city’s planning department is hosting a public workshop on Saturday to develop design guidelines for the West Loop (DNAinfo)
- Chicago has sold land for $1 so Theaster Gates and associated organizations can create Kenwood Gardens, a grouping of live/work “pods” in South Shore/Grand Crossing (Curbed)
- A judge won’t issue an injunction against a proposed affordable housing development in Jefferson Park for veterans and people with disabilities; the residents who funded the lawsuit will continue (DNAinfo)
- The Chicago planning department and the Chicago Housing Authority are seeking RFQ responses to revitalize LeClaire Courts, a former public housing site (map) where thousands of people lived in 616 units on 36 acres — responses are due on Monday (DPD)
- This South Shore landlord (one of the region’s largest) filed eviction notices for 1,000 out of its 8,000 units last year (Chicago Reader)
- Choose to live in an historic apartment building, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says — here’re seven reasons why
- Illinois state Rep. Sonya Harper (6th district) introduced the Urban Agriculture Zone bill that would, among other things, prevent property tax increases on property that’s being used to grow or raise food sold to nearby consumers (WTTW)
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The City of Chicago permitted 1,802 housing units in January and February in 2016, but only 1,335 in 2017, a reduction of 35 percent. However, 2017 has seen a 12 percent increase over 2015 levels.
Comparably, there were 37 percent more housing units permitted in 2016 than 2015, so it’s likely that 2017 will be more like 2016 than 2015. In 2015 there were 5,750 housing units permitted, versus 9,104 in 2016.
Ninety-one percent of units permitted in 2015 were in multi-unit buildings, and 84 percent of units were in buildings with five or more units. In 2016 those figures were 93 percent and 88 percent respectively.
In 2017 so far, with the available data for January and February, 96 percent of permitted units were in multi-unit buildings, and 90 percent of them are in buildings with five or more units.
The data comes from HUD, which doesn’t count teardowns so it can’t count how many multi-unit buildings are being replaced by single-unit homes.
Fewer new housing permits in Chicago in January and February this year versus last was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Developers Jay Johnson of Cornerstone Investment Group, and Eric Theisen and Freddy Ellis of Watermark Equity, have proposed “Howard Rogers Lofts”, a 38-unit apartment building less than two blocks from the Howard CTA station at 1531 W Howard St.
The building is “by right”, meaning they don’t need a zoning change or variance to build it, and they surely don’t need the alderman’s approval. It also means that people who already live nearby can’t persuade the alderman to block it.
(However, the alderman could ask the transportation department to not issue a driveway permit for the building’s parking garage, which is what Alder Deb Mell did in 2014 to block a developer from building a Walgreens with a corner parking lot across from the Kimball Brown Line station.)
There’s a public meeting, as a courtesy, on Monday, April 24, and Alder Joe Moore’s newsletter has more details.
By-right proposal for Rogers Park for a small apartment building was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017
The newsletter is back! I was on holiday in Asia for three weeks, including five days in Singapore — read about that here.
There are a couple of site updates this week before the regular neighborhood news:
- Subscribing and unsubscribing from Address Snapshot notifications now works correctly. For a while you could subscribe but not unsubscribe. These notifications send you an email when there’s a new building permit, violation, business licenses, or violation court date for any Chicago address. Manage your notifications on your profile.
- We are testing an upgrade to Property Finder that several members have asked for. Property Finder is a map that finds potentially developable land using open data sets that the commercial websites don’t have. Test it and tell us what you think.
- All City of Chicago and sister agency buildings — excluding the CTA — will be powered by renewable energy by 2025. (WTTW)
- Cook County is using $1.2 million in federal funds to analyze the suitability for 20 sites to host community solar power.
- Large vacant site in Pilsen/Heart of Chicago will soon have 34 townhomes, across from upcoming El Paseo trail. Our zoning change monitoring, a service for Pro members, caught this for Crain’s.
- A small office building on Avondale Ave. at Addison St. has a proposal to repurpose it as 14 apartments (with 14 car parking spaces, despite being one block from the Addison Blue Line station).
- Marz Community Brewing (related to Maria’s and Kimski’s in Bridgeport) plans to open a taproom near Bubbly Creek, behind the ComEd training facility on 35th St (in the McKinley Park community area). It will be designed by Norsman Architects, who also designed Kimski’s. (Eater Chicago)
- Eviction cases are much more likely to result in the landlord’s favor, according to a new analysis by the Chicago Reader.
- The downtown office vacancy rate has increased, and there are still two office towers under construction (151 N Franklin, 635 W Adams) with one more just approved (110 N Wacker).
- The Chicago Housing Authority has been trying to build mixed-income communities long before the Plan for Transformation in 200o — but is hasn’t been successful, at all. (Chicago Mag)
- City officially puts up its Goose Island fleet facility for sale, with 737 feet of Chicago River frontage; the fleet will move to the former Kennedy-King college site in Greater Grand Crossing/Englewood. (Curbed)
- The city’s first and former legislative inspector general analyzed the bad deals that the Chicago Infrastructure Trust made to make city buildings more efficient. (Project Six)
After these two announcements, solar installation in Chicago will increase was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
We’re back from a three week hiatus. I traveled in Asia for the first time, starting in Singapore. The city-state-country is what I wrote some of my first papers on in urban planning school, and it was exciting to see the land use policies that I had researched on display. Density and mixed-use are key principles to organize buildings and public space that maximize the limited amount of land and ensure sufficient space for parks and recreation.
Every day I had to remind myself that mainland Singapore is about 16 percent larger than Chicago, and has double the population. Not a single square meter of land was wasted, and they still devote 20 percent to nature preserves. Sometimes, though, it felt a little too perfect and polished.
There were definitely no surface parking lots or single-family houses adjacent to subway stations, like there are in Chicago. The space around stations was always mixed: office, residential, and civic. Parks were liberally woven between residential towers, and plants were gushing from balconies (okay, that one’s not as fair because Singapore is tropical).
I spent five days on the island, and visited a handful of neighborhoods and parks outside the central area. Like Chicago, most of the business and economic activity in Singapore happens in the Downtown Core, or central business district. Unlike Chicago, Singapore is developing other “cores” to redistribute jobs and commutes. Chicago doesn’t have a space problem; we have a “use space well” problem.
Monday, April 10, 2017
In the kind of zoning change requirement that inhibits multi-unit development, a zoning change application was filed in March to keep the zone the same, at RM4.5, but to change the previously approved plans — all to allow a 3-flat in Logan Square
The application says the lot is currently vacant, but there is a house here and there is no demolition permit for it.
It’s possible the address on the application is wrong, as the site at 2122 N Bingham St is vacant (see photo).
There was a renovation permit received at 2124 in October 2016 to convert the house from a 2-flat to a 3-flat. It appears those plans have been canceled and a teardown is in order.
Setting the problems of a potential teardown aside, developers have to jump through too many hoops to build housing that has more than one unit (single-family). Hoops cost money, and time, and the city’s housing stock — outside the Loop and north lakefront remains overwhelmingly single-family.
A notable zoning change application that shouldn’t be notable was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
The federal General Services Administration (GSA) is selling four buildings it owns on State Street, and Chicago has an RFP to collect proposals from private developers. GSA policy requires them to be sold to the local municipality, and the city will immediately sell it to the selected developer.
The city’s RFP — bids are due Monday, May 1, 2017 — requires that the Century building at 202 S State St and the Consumers building at 220 S State St are retained and renovated. The two buildings between them, at 212 and 214 S State St, can be demolished but “proposals should maintain its  historic storefront at a minimum”.
Alder Brendan Reilly said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “All but one of these buildings are considered to be potentially landmark-worthy and all four of these buildings are definitely at-risk. They have not been well maintained and will require structural work and significant facade restoration.”
Aaron Joseph questioned why the situation of so much real estate in the heart of the State Street commercial district had “decayed” since the GSA bought the properties in 2005. Indeed, you may recognize these buildings by the long-term presence of scaffolding, and occasionally there have been murals on the corner building.
- A debate on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight with Paris Schutz overemphasizes new construction in Pilsen. Schutz: “But Ald. Solis acknowledges that the boom in construction has led to higher rents and some families have been priced out of their homes.” It doesn’t appear that there’s a boom in Pilsen. In 2016 there were only 17 residential new construction permits, six in 2015, and five in 2014. Previous years had similar numbers, or none at all. The increase from 2015 to 2016 doesn’t make a “boom” trend. Solis should look into the idea that allowing more housing would mitigate rent and property value increases.
- The Roosevelt library branch in Little Italy will move down the block to new digs at 1259 W Taylor St in a couple of years, DNAinfo Chicago reported. The new building will be combined with Chicago Housing Authority units, designed by SOM, on vacant land the CHA owns and where the Jane Addams homes were.
- Perkins + Will was selected to design a combined library and housing in West Ridge; John Ronan Architects will design one in Irving Park.
- Sterling Bay, the development company credited with revitalizing the Fulton Market/Randolph Street corridor, is now selling off its properties: “Sterling Bay doesn’t hold anything. We buy it, we fix it, we sell it.”
- Yes, people who currently live in Jefferson Park would live in a new proposed affordable housing development, despite the bigoted rhetoric some neighbors are throwing their way. (DNAinfo)
- Resident groups are still arguing for the Obama library foundation to agree to an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement (Sun-Times)
- Curbed Chicago summarizes all of the construction activity and current and past organizing in Woodlawn, a neighborhood adjacent to the future Obama library in Jackson Park.
- A new co-op opens in Bronzeville — South Side Weekly counts it among six co0perative housing organizations on the South Side
GSA finally selling State Street buildings it bought 12 years ago but didn’t use was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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