Lincoln Square’s small businesses depend on the parking lot at 4715 N Western Avenue (Leland and Western), given the limited street parking in the square. This lot is in danger of being eliminated.
The loss of public parking to development will adversely hurt local businesses in Lincoln Square and beyond who rely on vehicular traffic for many of their customers. Also at risk are the local heritage and regional draw represented by the German Day Festival, Applefest, Mayfest, the local Farmer’s Market, the DANK Haus German Cultural Center, Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Davis Theater. This parking issue will only become worse, as Northwestern Health prepares to open their new clinic in the former Brauhaus location at 4732 Lincoln, placing further stress on already limited parking resources.
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Why this is important.
Local businesses in and around Lincoln Square depend on the parking lot for their customers to use; the abundance of local restaurants, artisanal shops, medical practices, and other businesses draw people from all over the Chicago Metro and beyond to Lincoln Square, straining the parking capacity along Lincoln Avenue (which will only get worse once the Northwestern Hospital Clinic opens in late 2021).
The parking lot at Leland and Western avenues that make up the area targeted for the ETOD housing development, were actually taken from their former owners in 1975 by City Hall in an eminent domain action to support the commercial district with a metered off-street parking lot that was constructed and opened in the spring of 1977. Going all the way back to the mid-1950s, Chicago Tribune articles show that the businesses and residents of Lincoln Square were concerned about an overall lack of commercial off street parking in the community. To now turn the city-owned parking lot property over for free to a private developer seems a disservice to those people who gave up those properties for a greater community need over 40 years ago.
The battle over the parking lot begins again. The Alderman is holding online virtual meetings however the voice of businesses and residents are being repressed.
WE NEED OUR PARKING
Again today, local residents fear that the loss of the commercial parking lot would damage a number of nearby businesses and local institutions. Those most at risk are the many unique small independently-owned retailers and restaurants that have helped turn the community into a regional draw, bringing people into Lincoln Square from the entire the six-county region.
Also benefiting from the parking lot at Leland and Western avenues are cultural institution like the Davis Theater, Old Town School of Folk Music, and DANKHaus German Cultural center. Losing the parking lot would make it more difficult for them to draw in customers from outside of the community, especially if Resident Only Permit Parking is expanded in the community, as Ald. Matt Martin suggested it might be after the parking lot is gone. Losing that open parking lot during and after construction of a residential development would also leave the popular and well-attended Lincoln Square Farmers Market, the German American Festival, Apple Fest and Mayfest struggling to survive.
Giving away the real estate for free to build the proposed affordable housing project also seems to ignore the findings of a 1998 Master Plan undertaken by The Lakota Group and DLK Architecture, at the behest of the 47th Ward Office, Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce and Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, that stated the 45-acre Lincoln Square commercial district had a parking deficit of “approximately 1,519 parking space.” That plan states that the “limited availability of land in Lincoln Square makes it unlikely that the parking deficit will ever be completely eliminated.”