Filling in the Cracks in Chinatown

Diagram of Archer and Clark

Diagram of Archer and Clark

One way of telling how “hot” a neighborhood ranks is by looking at the hoops developers will jump through in order to build there.  Is he willing to accept a River North lot bisected by the L?   What about a Bridgeport site within smelling distance of Bubbly Creek?  Or one in Streeterville contaminated with radioactive dirt?   There are almost always tradeoffs when it comes to selecting a site in Chicago.

Something similar is happening in Chinatown, which has seen rapid growth in demand for both commercial and residential space.  A developer has decided to shoehorn two buildings and a parking lot into a narrow strip of land that ordinarily would only be good for a parking lot or a pocket park.

Diagram of Archer and Clark

Diagram of Archer and Clark

It’s a roughly quill-shaped piece of dirt bounded by South Archer Avenue, South Clark Street, and the Metra railroad tracks.  The legal description is both confusing and amusing.  Some survey team is going to earn their money with this one:

South Archer Avenue,- South Clark Street; a line from a point 542-07 feet south of South Archer Avenue measured along the westerly right-of-way line of South Clark Street, to a point 388.81 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 52.57 feet west of South Clark Street; a line from a point 388.81 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 52.57 feet west of South Clark Street, to a point 289 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 52.57 feet west of South Clark Street; a line from a point 289 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 52.57 feet west of South Clark Street, to a point 289 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 66.0 feet west of South Clark Street; a line from a point 289 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 66.0 feet west of South Clark Street, to a point 171.71 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 79.0 feet west of South Clark Street; a line from a point 171.71 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 79.0 feet west of South Clark Street, to a point 171.71 feet south of South Archer Avenue and 80.65 feet west of South Clark Street; a line 80.65 feet west of and parallel to South Clark Street.

You can see from the diagram, that it’s 60 feet wide at its widest point, and about 500 feet long.  One end gets a one-story building with eight retail spaces facing Clark Street. The other end gets a five-story office building.  Between them is a small parking lot.  Counterintuitively, the taller building is shoehorned into the narrow end of the plot, while the less restricted side gets the one-story commercial building.  Go figure.

Here’s the full dirt:

  • Address: 2014 South Clark Street
  • Address: 2017 South Archer Avenue
  • Developer: MPI Contracting
  • Architecture firm: Vari Architects in Goose Island
  • Commercial building size: 11,400 square feet
  • Commercial building height: 24 feet, 8 inches
  • Office building: 24,600 square feet
  • Office building height: 60 feet
  • Parking: 29 spaces
  • Zoning: C2-3
  • Floor area ratio: 1.2
Location: 2014 South Clark Street, Chinatown

Editor

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Based on the TOD ordinance, this development would not actually require any parking, which means if they kept this basic site plan, but added 58 residences, their parking lot would still be within minimum requirements. I wonder if the Metra tracks are discouraging the developer from doing this? Since with the Chinatown housing market, that would basically be printing money.

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