This post details some of the concerns that have been voiced about The Lakefront Car Tower proposed at the southeast corner of the intersection at Sherwin and Sheridan (7317-31 N. Sheridan Road). Any community benefit that might be realized from the Lakefront Car Tower is heavily outweighed by concerns about safety, the unique character of Sheridan Road in Rogers Park and our investments in making Rogers Park safer and more hospitable for all residents, including pedestrians and cyclists. We encourage residents of Rogers Park who value the very special character of our community to join in the effort to let Alderman Moore know that the Lakefront Car Tower has no place in our community. Follow the links on this page to sign the petition to Alderman Moore, follow our Facebook page and and share it with your friends and neighbors.
The proposed lakefront car tower compounds safety issues associated with Sheridan Road, as well as providing a sheltered space for illicit activities.
- The fact that there will be no left turn lane or light, nor an adjustment to the traffic signal durations, presents a clear danger to pedestrians who are crossing Sheridan Road at the intersection. Pedestrians who miscalculate their ability to cross in a timely fashion combined with drivers turning in and out of Sherwin onto Sheridan Road just before a red light could result in unnecessary injury, and possibly death.
- Those visiting community attractions such as the Bach House and our lakefront beaches who would use the Lakefront Car Tower to park their vehicles, may abruptly stop or slow at Sherwin in an effort to enter the parking garage due to their lack of familiarity with the area. This raises the potential for vehicular accidents that will further hamper the efficient movement of vehicles through our community and result in unnecessary (and avoidable) harm to drivers and pedestrians.
- Even parts of the neighborhood that might not see a direct impact from the Lakefront Car Tower (in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety) will experience elevated risk during construction. The nine month duration of the project will occur through the spring, summer and fall – times when pedestrian and vehicular traffic are at their peak. This means that many drivers who use Sheridan Road to commute through the neighborhood to Lake Shore Drive will use side streets in lieu of dealing with the constriction of traffic on Sheridan Road caused by the project, thereby increasing traffic volume on these side streets. This presents a clear threat to the safety of playing children, pedestrians and cyclists who enjoy these streets for their safety.
- At present, parking traffic in the area is spread throughout numerous blocks as residents and visitors search for public street parking. With the addition of the Lakefront Car Tower as a parking destination, it will concentrate the already existing parking traffic to one intersection thus creating a potentially lethal situation for both pedestrians and drivers. Additional parking traffic generated by developments such as Farcroft by the Lake will further increase the danger that is inherent to the construction of the Lakefront Car Tower.The undetermined nature of security at the Lakefront Car Tower (i.e armed vs. unarmed personnel, number of personnel on all four stories) may make it a place for criminals to commit crimes in. There is no need to create an additional space in the neighborhood that could be used for illicit activities and endanger the personal safety of residents.
Quality of Life
- Local community efforts to encourage safe, sustainable means of travel, such as bike lanes, safer intersections for pedestrians and improved public transit facilities, indicate a recognition that the city of the future will become less autocentric. In fact, according to I-GO Car sharing and a Walkscore.com article dated February 13, 2013, Millenials, those persons aged 18-34, are ditching car ownership by 30% in the last five years in favor of car sharing, carpooling and public transit. In addition, close to a million Americans participate in car sharing programs, like I-GO in Chicago, up 44% last year, 2012. Promoting increased auto use by accommodating cars with the Lakefront Car Tower runs counter to community efforts to create safer and more sustainable transportation options.
- The spirit of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance is not met with the proposed Lakefront Car Tower. Specially, the intent of the ordinance summed up in the statement “insure the preservation and protection of [the] district and of every aspect of its interest and value” cannot be realized by the construction of the Lakefront Car Tower.
- The extended duration of the proposed Lakefront Car Tower, at no less than nine months, presents a severe inconvenience to the residents who live near the proposed site of the Lakefront Car Tower. The excessive noise, pedestrian diversions from the east Sheridan Road sidewalk, parking accommodations made for construction workers and the loss of public street parking during the construction is unacceptable. While there will be virtually no benefit to the residents of the community with the construction of the car tower, they are being asked to bear a substantial burden of its construction.
- If this project is approved and constructed, it sets a precedent that promotes parking as a solution to a “parking problem” that can only be solved by making further accommodations to more vehicles. With each new development or redevelopment in the community, we will see the same line of promotion of more parking as the way to solve the “parking problem” without recognizing that the real problem is encouraging auto use. If the planning history of American cities in the period after World War II has shown us anything, it is that accommodating vehicle use begets more vehicles. In an era when many cities are reconsidering their encouragement of auto use, including Chicago, it is imperative that we as a community do not engage in such an anachronistic approach to auto use.
- Some ideas have been floated that the parcels the Lakefront Car Tower would occupy might be better used for retail, business or residential development. We have been informed by the developer that this is not economically viable at this time. Whether or not this is indeed an accurate statement, we feel that it would be a poor decision to preempt such developments by approving the required zoning changes and allowing the Lakefront Car Tower to move forward. Such a move would virtually eliminate any possibility of development that might serve to enrich and benefit the community in a more holistic manner.
The proposed Lakefront Car Tower does not fit with the rich architectural heritage of Sheridan Road in Rogers Park.
- The Lakefront Car Tower would take up two-thirds of the entire block and reach four stories into the sky. While some buildings near the proposed Lakefront Car Tower are of a similar mass, they serve people not cars. Putting brick and strips of glass on a concrete parking garage does not soften the fact that it is a concrete parking garage. Additionally, there is no legal obligation that the car tower is constructed as proposed. If the zoning changes were granted then a car tower could be built in any manner the developer sees fit.
- Also, these three currently low-density lots offset the other higher than average, for Sheridan Road, lots on the block. A central line of reasoning offered by the developer in justifying the Lakefront Car Tower is that some of the buildings in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site were, in retrospect, poor decisions and have questionable aesthetic value. We acknowledge this, and as such we oppose another decision that, in retrospect, will serve to remind us that bad ideas don't get better with time.
Rogers Park residents pride themselves on the ability to live participatory democracy, and the planning process of this project is contradictory to this ideal.
- While we appreciate the community meeting convened to discuss this matter, a project of such immense consequence dictates a very high level of involvement on behalf of the community. This has not been the case. We were essentially given a sales presentation where minor design changes were presented as substantial concessions on the part of the developer. The question of “should we even have an out-of-scale, unsafe and burdensome car tower” was never asked. To this end, we are engaging the community in this discussion and thus far it seems that the costs outweigh the benefits.
- We are also very concerned that Rogers Park might become a community where outside interests feel they can buy influence. Influence is not a commodity in Rogers Park and rejection of the requested zoning changes needed for construction of the Lakefront Car Tower will demonstrate that.
These are some of the more glaring concerns that have emerged from discussions about the proposed Lakefront Car Tower. In the end, the Lakefront Car Tower is simply a bad idea. We encourage you to join us in stopping this monstrosity from becoming something we have to endure for years to come.