MPC Issues Letter on Chatham Market - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC Issues Letter on Chatham Market

MPC issues letter to Chicago aldermen raising redevelopment issues about the proposed zoning change for the Chatham Market project on Chicago's South Side.

August 30, 2004

The Honorable William J. Banks
Chicago City Council
6839 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, Ill. 60634

Dear Ald. Banks:

As you consider your vote on the rezoning at 83rd and Stewart Avenue near the Dan Ryan Expressway for the Chatham Market, the Metropolitan Planning Council urges you to stay focused on the question before you: whether or not the site at 83rd and Stewart should be rezoned to permit retail development. This isn’t about a specific tenant; it’s about the site’s appropriateness as a retail location. In our view, this in an ideal location for big box retail development.

MPC has lauded Chicago’s new zoning ordinance for recognizing the differences between big box, auto-oriented versus neighborhood, pedestrian-oriented retail developments. While pedestrian-oriented retail is far preferred in most urban settings, there is a real need for the big-box format in today’s market. Families from all walks of life enjoy the convenience and low prices this format is known to provide. In addition, without locations in established communities, residents are forced to drive miles to neighboring municipalities, further clogging roadways and producing unnecessary amounts of vehicle emissions along the way. The new zoning code, for the first time ever, allows communities to identify the appropriate locations for big box establishments that have been defined as large sites, often formerly industrial in nature, which are near transit and major arterials. This site has it all.

With close proximity to the Dan Ryan, the CTA Red Line, and bus service on 87th Street, the location at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue meets all the criteria for commercial development. Furthermore, as a brownfield site upon which residential development would be cost prohibitive and for which manufacturing has shown no interest, retail becomes the only viable use. In addition to environmental clean-up, the developers of this project are providing green roofs, a LEED certified building (a nationally recognized program to rate green buildings), numerous traffic improvements that include the creation of 85th Street, which does not currently exist in this location. Finally, the community is in dire need of retail development. Fully one-third of all Chatham Community Area consumer expenditures occur outside the neighborhood, resulting in a leakage of $157 million annually.

The Metropolitan Planning Council is not commenting on the business practices of Wal-Mart, nor on any negotiated public assistance package for Wal-Mart or any other related assistance package. Absent a uniform approach to these concerns, this project should be allowed to move forward.

Sincerely,

Peter Skosey
Vice President of External Relations

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