Chicago Abandons its Pedestrian Streets

Last December there was quite a kerfuffle over the lifting of the Pedestrian Street designation (aka "P-Street") on a section of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square in order to accommodate a McDonalds renovation that is to incorporate increased automobile traffic and a double-wide drive through. (Steven Vance, Lynn Stevens)

Now there is further work to accommodate developers, to the detriment of pedestrians, in the area. Alderman Colon now proposes to eliminate the P-Street Designation for 2816 N Kimball - 2900 N Kimball Ave, adjacent to CDOT's proposed Woodard Plaza development. This change promises to significantly alter the future development of the area, promoting a more suburban-style development in an area heavily used by pedestrians. (Woodard Plaza pdf and pdf)

A Davita dialysis clinic (which, presumably coincidentally, currently sits next to the aforementioned McDonalds) has expressed an interest in relocating to 2816 N Kimball Avenue. Following a January re-zoning, the 31,000 square foot plot was purchased ($600k), construction money was borrowed ($2 million+), and a lease for 9100 (out of 30k square feet of land) has been signed.

Fast forward to May. Alderman Colon has now proposed the elimination of the P-Street designation for 2816 N Kimball - 2900 N Kimball, to further promote the construction of this facility. While the Alderman has suggested that he and Zoning believe this designation was a mistake; an outgrowth of of Milwaukee's P-Street designation. In fact, it appears very deliberately included as a P-Street, along with a number of other locations where a P-Street designation radiates outward from a 6-way intersection, in this case Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey.

The P-Street designation would not prohibit the dialysis clinic from using this space. Instead, it would simply force the curb cuts off of Kimball, parking to the rear, building to the sidewalk, and window displays at street-level. Today there is an ugly vacant lot, but all curb cuts on Kimball have been abandoned. (All access to the crude parking lot is currently through one cut on Dawson). While development of the parcel is in the public interest, the P-Street designation exists for this very purpose - to ensure that regardless of the zoning of the property, certain care is taken to promote pedestrian-friendly development.

The continued dismantling of P-Street designations in Ward 35 demonstrates that P-Streets have no meaning. In fact, they are treated no differently than any other zoning change - if a developer wants to put pedestrian-unfriendly development in, the Alderman pushes through the change. It is my hope that the zoning committee will see this, and will put an end to the ongoing promotion of business interests over pedestrians.

There will be a hearing before the Zoning Committee Monday June 25 at 10 am.