Rehab of the flatiron building at 3473-77 S. Archer Ave. will be one of the projects under discussion at an October 14 virtual community meeting hosted by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas.

Starbucks, 33-Apartment Building at El Stop Among Developments Proposed for McKinley Park

Published October 10, 2020

A mix of residential and commercial development is proposed for sites around Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood, including a 33-apartment Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD) next to the 35th/Archer Orange Line El stop, a drive-through Starbucks and a 7-Eleven gas station at south Archer and Western avenues, an overhaul of the flatiron building at West 35th Street and South Archer Avenue, and an Enterprise commercial vehicle depot at West Pershing Road and South Western Avenue.

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All of these projects require a change in land-use zoning in order for them to move forward, and 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas is hosting a 12th Ward Virtual Community Meeting on Wednesday, October 14, in order to share information about the projects and solicit feedback from the neighborhood.

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"The public meetings are an opportunity for property owners and/or developers to present their project vision to the public," said Liliana Escarpita, who works with the 12th Ward office and directs policy for Cardenas.

"The Alderman’s office does not present or speak in favor of projects at public meetings," she said. "It is the responsibility of the individuals requesting the zoning change to present their project and respond to questions."

McKinley Park neighborhood residents can participate by signing up via the registration page for the event. Questions, comments and concerns about the developments can be submitted prior to the meeting and for a week afterward through a web page form supporting the meeting.

ETOD at the 35th/Archer El

McKinley Park development 3595 99 S Archer Ave Chicago renderingAn architect's rendering shows a design for the proposed transit-oriented development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave., Chicago.Archer Homes Developments Inc. is proposing a residential transit-oriented development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave. across the street from the 35th/Archer stop on the Orange Line El. The long-vacant lot is host to the Marquette-Joliet historic monument at the corner of South Archer Avenue and South Leavitt Street, which would be retained and maintained by the developer under the proposal.

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The proposed four-story building would house 33 dwellings on upper floors and two storefront live/work spaces. On-site bike parking would join 23 off-street parking spaces, a lower-than-standard number enabled through the development's ETOD status. The development would require a zoning change to a B2-3 designation from its current commercial C1-2 designation.

"ETODs can help advance larger community needs," Cardenas said. "When ETODs are planned well, residents can benefit from just, equal access to transportation options, food and activities."

McKinley Park Archer Avenue Father Pierre Marquette Louis Joliet memorialThe monument commemorating Father Pierre Marquette and Louis Joliet's exploration of the area would be retained as part of the proposed development at 3595-99 S. Archer Ave.ETOD can inspire benefits like affordable housing, workforce development, small business development and environmental friendliness, Cardenas said. "The case for higher-density and ETODs is that having access to diverse transportation options will limit the number of cars on the road."

As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, most of the McKinley Park neighborhood falls within recently designated transit-oriented development areas due to the neighborhood's El stops and high-frequency bus routes on Ashland and Western avenues. A meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council in October 2019 dived into details related to transit-oriented development, including neighborhood parking.

"Some people point out that higher-density developments may put a strain on neighborhood resources," Cardenas said, "or that as amenities come into an area, property values rise, therefore making a community less affordable."

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"ETODs require extensive planning and community engagement," he said.

Starbucks and 7-11

McKinley Park development 3473 77 S Archer Ave Chicago renderingAn architect's rendering displays a prospective Starbucks and 7-Eleven for 3798 S. Western Ave., Chicago.The southwest corner of south Archer and Western avenues at 3798 S. Western Ave. would host a drive-through Starbucks cafe and a 7-11 convenience mart with accessory gas pumps under a proposal from Vequity.

The development, which would demolish and replace the long-vacant pharmacy building on the site, would also require a zoning change: to M2-2, B3, or any C district. Two separate buildings would be sited at the property under the proposal.

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As with the other developments outlined here, Vequity developers will participate in the 12th Ward Virtual Community Meeting to present their proposal and answer questions.

Flatiron Overhaul

McKinley Park development 3473 77 S Archer Ave Chicago renderingArchitect renderings illustrate the proposed building elevation schema for 3473-77 S. Archer Ave., Chicago.The triangular-shaped flatiron building at the corner of South Archer Avenue and West 35th Street is set for refurbishment through a proposal from Michael Fox Pilsen 2 LLC. The development at 3473-77 S. Archer Ave., which would require a change to B3-3 zoning from its current RS3 zoning, proposes keeping and refurbishing the 10 residential units on its upper floors and restoring the ground-floor storefronts to commercial use. 

"The commercial units have been vacant for some time," read the developer statement on the current zoning requests page of the 12th Ward website. "The building is in need of substantial repair."

Enterprise Commercial Vehicles

Enterprise Leasing Co. of Chicago proposes overhauling the property at 3900 S. Western Ave., home to a long-vacant former bar building and parking lot, and redeveloping the property to add a new 3,000-square-foot building to support commercial vehicle rentals.

The proposed building would reserve about a third of the space for offices and the remaining area for cleaning and sanitizing vehicles. The rest of the property would be used for parking for rentals, customers and employees, with no changes to driveway entrances and curb cuts on the property.

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Only commercial delivery vans and trucks will be leased and serviced from this location, which will be intended to serve the transport and delivery needs of local businesses.

The proposed Enterprise development would require a zoning change to C2 from its existing B3 zoning.

Zoning Change Process

Escarpita said the 12th Ward follows a community-driven zoning process that includes public meetings for all major changes. As developers reach out to the 12th Ward office, they provide introductory project information toward presentation at a public meeting.

After evaluating community comments, "Alderman Cardenas and staff will discuss the proposal and all feedback before issuing a letter of support," Escarpita said.

Zoning changes then require final approval by the Chicago City Council through amending the zoning map, the success of which is often tied to the support of the alderman representing the development's location.

Escarpita said the community meetings include presentations by developers, moderated questions and answers with meeting participants, and collection of comments for consideration by the 12th Ward. 

Attractive Neighborhood

Cardenas attributed the packed meeting agenda to projects held up by the COVID-19 pandemic and the value of the area. "It's no secret that McKinley Park is a very attractive neighborhood to invest in, whether it be residential, retail, commercial or industrial development," he said.

The McKinley Park neighborhood also holds many sites available for development, Cardenas said. "There is plenty of underutilized land in the Ward such as the Archer and Western Ave site, the Archer and Leavitt site," he said.

"With so much uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it seems that developers took a pause and are now ready to move their projects forward," Cardenas said.

For information on Chicago zoning designations, see the main Zoning web page on the City of Chicago website and the Business License Zoning Reference Guide.

Audrey Thibeau
So THIS is why we have 2 Western Aves.

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