Chicago Cityscape's '1909' newsletter
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.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
With the addition of Retail Thrive Zones areas today, Chicago Cityscape now has the most complete “development benefits finding” capability. Search for any address in Cook County and we’ll tell you which development benefits programs are available there.
Chicago Cityscape checks a property’s location against the boundaries for nine programs that offer grants for renovation and relocation, property tax abatement, and environmental remediation, among other incentives.
All of these programs are available in parts of Chicago, and some are available in Cook County (denoted with “CC”). TOD is one program that is widely available. Called “Transit-Served Location” by the Chicago municipal code, it gives free density bonuses to residential and commercial projects near train stations.
- Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) opportunity area
- Downtown Expansion Area
- Enterprise Zone (CC)
- Industrial Growth Zone (CC)
- Neighborhood Opportunity Fund investment zone
- Retail Thrive Zone
- Special Service Area
- Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District
- Transit Oriented Development (Transit-Served Location)
Contact us if you need help determining a property’s eligibility.https://medium.com/media/7d690131ac1d09c11a1468d6df26260b/href
Use Cityscape to see if your property is eligible for grants or tax relief was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
A group of big name local and national architecture firms are part of a new “Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab”, a collaboration that will “develop renderings and design concepts for several typical river edge conditions found throughout the river system.” Chicago Mayor Emanuel announced the lab on Monday at an international urban waterways conference he co-hosted here with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Firms include: Ross Barney Architects, Studio Gang, Perkins+Will, Site Design Group, Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), (David) Adjaye Associates, James Corner Field Operations, SWA, and Sasaki.
Ross Barney and Sasaki co-designed the six new riverwalk sections that opened in 2015 and 2016, a project that was announced in 2012. Ross Barney also designed the two riverwalk sections that opened in 2006 and 2009, including the Vietnam veterans memorial.
This is related to the Our Great Rivers plan that Metropolitan Planning Council developed and released last year. One of its most famous goals is to make the Chicago River swimmable by 2030.
The city has been increasing investments along the river in the last three years; in addition to the extended riverwalk the transportation department is building a multi-use trail along the river between Belmont and Montrose.
Chicago neighborhood news
- In wake of rising property taxes, condo owners in the Bloomingdale Arts Building in Logan Square next to to 606 elect to drop sale price caps that kept units affordable (Reader)
- Forgotten Chicago published its 2017 season tour list, with 14 upcoming neighborhood tours (including a reprise of the Calumet River boat tour)
- Some residents asked 46th Ward Alder James Cappleman for a moratorium on approving high-rent housing in Uptown (DNAinfo)
- Since shelter is a basic necessity, but housing is very expensive, what if Americans stopped looking at home ownership as an investment? Looser land use regulations could increase housing production, too. (NYT)
- A block of houses in Humboldt Park was successfully rehabilitated as part of Chicago’s “Troubled Buildings Initiative” (Urban Land Institute)
- The National Trust for Historic Preservation has defined neighborhood character and measured your Chicago neighborhood (Chicago Mag)
- A new program called “L-Evate” will develop strategies to maximize new housing and commercial development around five ‘L’ stations (MPC)
- Speaking of housing around CTA stations…did you know that up to half the land within two blocks around many Brown and Blue Line stations doesn’t allow two-flats or anything denser?
- See the residential designs that are unique to Chicago in Curbed’s new guide to the vernacular — architecture without architects.
- A new report highlights drastic shortage in affordable rental housing & says without federal funds the private market wouldn’t supply (WTTW)
We recently launched a redesigned Community Data Explorer, so you could easily get demographic data from the Census even for areas that don’t line up with their boundaries. Curbed demonstrated how to use it.
The number of places where you can use Community Data Explorer has increased and Chicago Cityscape now maps every Illinois municipality — 1,368 in all! Get started.
Got questions on how to use this or any of our other great property and neighborhood lookup tools? Contact us.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
FormWork is a new service that makes it easier to fill out Chicago building permit applications, and saves you a lot of time doing it by helping to ensure an accurate application — similar to tax preparation software.
MAP Strategies (MAPS) created the web app for expeditors, contractors, and architects. It works on phones and tablets, too.
Architects who have the special “self-cert” status in Chicago will especially benefit because those permits require several additional forms and FormWork fills them all out for you without asking additional questions.
Another huge time-saving feature is that FormWork can collect signatures from everyone: an alder, all the subcontractors, the property owner, and even the signatures and stamps from licensed architects and structural engineers.
Chicago Cityscape was involved by providing our API which powers some of the lookup features of FormWork that saves the applicant time filling out basic information, including grabbing the Property Index Number (PIN).
To celebrate the launch, we are offering Cityscape readers a free month to try FormWork using the coupon code CITYSCAPEMEDIUM. You must redeem the code by April 13, 2017.
Use new FormWork app to fill out building permit applications faster was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The city could produce more housing if it upzoned areas around train stations to allow for more than single-family houses.
Scroll down for the map.
Areas in the North Side around the Blue and Brown Lines don’t have the same medium and high-density zoning districts as the areas around the Red Line. This situation leads to lower housing production of the “missing middle” — housing that has more units than a single-family house, but wouldn’t be classified as a high-rise. A two-flat, a three-flat, a six-flat, courtyard building, compactly arranged townhomes, and other types.
This analysis measures how much single-family zoning is within 1,320 feet (two blocks) of a Chicago Transit Authority or Metra station, to show how space around them allows only the lowest density housing.
This is to make the case that zoning districts should be used to maximize the number of people that can live near a train station, not restrict it.
Across the city, 20 percent of the land area within two blocks of CTA and Metra stations allows only the construction of single-family houses. That’s 300 million square feet out of the 1.5 billion square feet around the stations.
Upzone that 101 million square feet from an RS (single-family only) district to RT-4 (which is one step up) and already you’ve essentially doubled the number of houses that can be built, through the use of two-flats. Depending on the lot size, you could even build 3 or 4 units. Step up to RM districts and you’re raising the ceiling of allowable number of new housing units by more than two times.
So how much land is restricted?
My point in the tweet thread was about the Blue and Brown Lines, though, so I’ll tell you how much of the land area around their stations south of Lawrence allows only single-family house construction.
- City zoning code allows only single-family houses on 50.6 percent of the land within two blocks of Brown Line stations between Kimball and Southport.
- Within two blocks of Blue Line stations (between Grand, the first station outside the Loop, and Jefferson Park, in line with the Kimball Brown Line station), 39.3 percent of the land allows only single-family house construction.
The map shows that Brown and Blue Line stations are more likely than Red Line stations to have a greater portion of the land within 2 blocks allow only single-family housing. The Red Line is surrounded by mostly RM-4.5 and greater, and Bx-3 and Cx-3 and greater. The white areas in the map are other zoning districts.
These numbers don’t account for streets in the zoning districts that you obviously cannot build upon, but subtracting street area wouldn’t reduce the portions that require single-family housing by much. This analysis will be refined to consider only the “buildable area” (parcels) near the stations.
There’s a lot of missed opportunity. Contact us to purchase a custom report.https://medium.com/media/7d690131ac1d09c11a1468d6df26260b/href
Too much land around CTA stations doesn’t allow more than single-family housing was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
After Curbed Chicago told of its readers about our redesigned Community Data Explorer, and that you could use our Draw a Personal Place tool to get demographic info from the Census for anywhere in Chicagoland, we were blown away by all the traffic from new visitors.
Anyone can open a free Neighbor account and starting today anyone can draw and save a Personal Place. Oh, it works on mobile now, too.
Drawing and saving Personal Places for later use was a feature we previously reserved exclusively for our Pro members. Want to draw more than one Personal Place, or upload an existing map? Upgrade today.
Friday, March 10, 2017
This morning, while reviewing my invaluable daily email of new demolition permits from Chicago Cityscape, I saw what I’d sadly anticipated for some weeks: a demolition permit issued for the former Summerdale Congregational Church in Andersonville, on Farragut Avenue at Paulina Street.
It’s a rare wooden-frame church on a brick foundation with ties to the very beginnings of the Andersonville (then Summerdale) community: the Edgewater Historical Society has a thoroughly-researched historical narrative, depicting it through the decades.
According to this DNAinfo Chicago story in January, non-profit organization The Night Ministry became owners of the 1893 building through donation from the shuttered Summerdale Community Church in 2016. In January, a $750,000 sale was finalized between The Night Ministry and private developer Ecodwell, who will erect single-family homes on the site.
Demolition permit issued for historic Andersonville wooden church was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
This is a great tool for those contractors looking to find their next project partner, a lead, or generally need business intelligence data.
Take a tour of the new contractor profile
- Map the most recent projects (you can easily change it to show up to 100 of the company’s latest projects)
- Check out Relationships — see which companies do business together most often
- Understand where in Chicago this company gets the most permits
Find out more about any contractor working in Chicago than ever before 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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1909 was the year that Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett published the Plan of Chicago that forever changed the cityscape. The cityscape changes everyday and we track how and where on Chicago Cityscape.
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