A recent rendering of the proposed development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave. displays the four-story, mixed-use building design.

Coffee Drive-Throughs, TOD Under Microscope at Development Meetings

Published March 3, 2021

Caffeine-starved McKinley Park drivers could access more coffee choices under plans recently announced for a Starbucks/7-Eleven development at the southwest corner of South Western and South Archer avenues, and a Dunkin’ drive-through at the northeast corner of South Archer Avenue and South Leavitt Street.

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These plans join a revised development proposal for a four-story transit-oriented development (TOD) at the southwest corner of Archer and Leavitt, reconfigured and shortened following community feedback from October 2020.

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The proposals came under scrutiny and discussion at recent online community meetings, including a February 10, 2021, meeting hosted by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas and the January and February meetings of the McKinley Park Development Council.

All three developments require changes to their land use designations: The Starbucks/7-Eleven and TOD development require zoning changes, and the Dunkin’ requires new special permits to reconfigure its current parking lot site into a drive-through restaurant.

Gas and Java

The proposed Starbucks/7-Eleven development covers the currently vacant former drugstore site at 3798 S. Western Ave. The 7-Eleven, a separate building and gas station proposed for the north end of the property, would share the site with the Starbucks drive-through and parking lots.

The Starbucks/7-Eleven site developers from Vequity first unveiled their plans in October 2020 at a 12th Ward community meeting. They then revised their plans based on feedback and presented revisions at the January 2021 meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council.

TOD Gets a Haircut

South Archer South Leavitt Development Rendering 2 202102A rendering shows the design of the back side of the proposed development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave. The mixed-use transit-oriented development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave. returned with plan revisions at the February 24, 2021, meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council, including reducing its size to four stories from five stories and switching up its mix of housing units.

“This is the absolute epitome of a TOD development,” said Agnes Pieka, lawyer for the developers who presented the development proposal.

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At its street level, facing South Archer Avenue, the proposed structure would house one commercial and two live/work spaces. On the three stories above, dwelling units would include six one-bedroom condos, 15 two-bedroom condos and six three-bedroom condos.

All three units mandated by Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) would be on-site, Pieka said.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

The property would feature 36 bike parking spaces and 23 car parking spaces, which Pieka called a “happy medium” between the maximum reductions allowed by Chicago’s TOD ordinances and residents’ desires to own and park cars on site.

At the meeting, Pieka also cited the “amazing” McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan and said the proposed TOD development would fit well with plan goals.

Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

Also heralding the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan was Cardenas at his February community meeting, but as a critique of the proposed Dunkin’ drive-through next to major public transit.

“The plan identified Archer and Leavitt as an intersection that is significantly important because of its proximity to the Orange Line and the bus hub,” Cardenas said.

24/7 Drive-Through

At his meeting, Cardenas said he did not know about the building permit because of an error listing the development as being in the 29th Ward, and not the 12th Ward. Once he learned of the development, he asked the City of Chicago to withdraw the permit, he said.

Sanjeev Khatau, the owner of the property for the proposed Dunkin’ (and existing Family Dollar store), and his attorney, Nick Ftikas, walked through their proposal at Cardenas’ community meeting. The Dunkin’ would move from its current spot inside the CTA El station to a standalone drive-through operating 24/7, and the interior restaurant would be open 6 a.m. to 3 a.m., Ftikas said.

Parking for 29 cars would be shared between the Dunkin’ and the Family Dollar, and new curb cuts and drive-through access would need to be approved and built to allow the drive-through.

Safety and TOD

Participants at the February 10 meeting raised concerns about safety and locating a car-centric business across from a public transit station.

Nearby resident Christina Martinez cited close calls as a pedestrian at this intersection, and the recent death of a pedestrian after being struck by a car.

The video of the February 10, 2021, community meeting shows reaction to the proposed Dunkin' drive-through at 3560 S. Archer Ave., Chicago.

As highlighted in the Key Findings for the goal of revitalizing commercial corridors in the McKinely Park Neighborhood Plan, the Archer and Leavitt intersection tallied 18 crashes between 2013 and 2017.

Bigger and Better

“We want Archer to be safer, with more people walking and biking,” said neighborhood resident Dayna Calderon. “We should not put a drive-through where people are walking to trains.”

“We’d love to do a bigger, better development,” Ftikas said, but an existing 10-year lease granted to Family Dollar prevents current development of the entire site.

Business Grows Here - Space - Resources - Community

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Other community members stressed the need for transit-oriented development as called for in the neighborhood plan, as well as concerns about locking in a specific national brand drive-through.

Send in Feedback

“We ought to consider the impact down the road [that the big chains would have on] bringing in small stores,” said Anthony Wojtal. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by over-saturating the area with large chains.”

Current El station Dunkin’ manager Maria Zuniga, who would be taking over the drive-through if it’s built, cited a petition they conducted with hundreds of supporters. “I know a lot of people are excited to have a bigger store, a nicer store,” she said.

At his meeting, Cardenas said he was continuing to collect community feedback on the proposed Dunkin’ drive-through – and other McKinley Park neighborhood developments – via email at george.cardenas@cityofchicago.org or 12thward@cityofchicago.org and phone at (773) 523-8250.

The January 20, 2010, meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council featured discussion of the Starbucks/7-Eleven development at 3798 S. Western Ave.

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