Walgreens opened a new store this month inside the Noel State Bank building at 1601 N Milwaukee, at the six-way intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee Avenues. Walgreens wonderfully restored the interior and exterior of the registered landmark building. The property acquisition (formerly occupied by MB Financial Bank) included a small parking lot with a driveway entrance on Milwaukee Avenue by Red Hen Bread Co. and an entrance through the alley. The parking lot has 7 car parking spaces, including 1 accessible parking stall. There are 8 bike parking spaces. It appears there would have been 10 but a bike rack wasn’t installed because it would have blocked a doorway that opens only from the inside. (The previous occupant used the parking lot to hold ~15 cars.)
When I first saw that Walgreens was building a parking lot, I asked myself, “Why do they need one? There’re three bus routes, a train line, this neighborhood is very walkable and many people bike around here. Plus, there’s a Walgreens store 0.37 miles away with 35 parking spaces.”* (No, I don’t do distance calculations in my head to that many significant digits – I figured that with an online map.)
The Walgreens property is B3-2 and in Parking Group M, Retail. Parking requirements, defined in the Zoning Code, are thus: “All other: None for first 4,000 square feet then 2.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet.” The building, according to the City’s interactive zoning map, is 21,800 square feet. That means 44.5 car parking spaces are required and 8.9 bike parking spaces are required (1 bike parking space per 5 car parking spaces).
I talked to Benet Haller who works in the Department of Housing and Economic Development to confirm this. “DHED” has gone by many names (some that persist today) including Zoning, Planning, Zoning and Land Use Planning, and Community Development.
This isn’t the case, Haller said. “Buildings within 600 feet of a CTA or Metra train station entry can get a reduction of 50% from the minimum parking requirements and landmarks (like 1601) have a minimum parking requirement of 0.”
The new Walgreens didn’t need to provide any parking spaces, so anything greater than 0 is the company’s prerogative.
Parking lot design regulations require them to be offset from the sidewalk or curb, with a buffer of landscaping and a black fence.
The bike parking at this store is supreme: it follows the 50 feet rule, has a useful fixture, is in plain view from the street, is easily accessed from the street, and in an open space. However, the open space here is a little too open: bikes parked here are at risk of being damaged by moving cars.
This article is not a review of parking policies and regulations and how they affect transportation systems, but a simple introduction to my future exploration of these topics. They do so in myriad ways, including impacts on budgeting, raising revenues, and causing new trips by driving instead of by other modes.
I intend to publish analysis of the Wolf Point project that intends to bring over 1,000 car parking spaces to River North and Merchandise Mart, and discuss pedestrian-friendly designs.
Interior view photo by Dan O’Neil.
How to use the interactive zoning map
The map’s old technology is tedious and lacks direct links to specific views or parcel information.
- Open the homepage
- Click on “View Zoning Map” (turn off popup blockers)
- Click the “Accept” button on the Liability page
- A new window will open and start loading a map of Chicago
- In the search toolbar below the map, enter the address in the form, 1601 N Milwaukee Avenue, and click “Find Address”.
- Wait for the map to center on the address (if you try to do things faster than the map, you may find yourself running into problems). Toggle on/off various layers of geographic information using the Layers, Zoning, and Images tabs on the right side. I like turning off the crosshatched pink layer, Pedestrian Streets, for easier viewing.
- Click on the “Identify Tool” in the left toolbar and click on the parcel. Wait. A new window will popup that includes a lot of information about this property, including its PIN (for tax purposes), and landmark and historic districts.
* Walgreens confirmed that the older store will remain open.