City Slaps Downtown Surface Parking Lot

If you’ve been picking up what we’ve been putting down over the last 17 years, you probably grok that we like surface parking lots the same way we like a Chicago cabbie hoking at us at 2am trying to solicit a fare: Not at all.

That’s why we were happy to read a letter the city sent to the lawyer for a particular patch of downtown last month, letting him know that an existing surface parking lot in that particular location is not welcome.

We could summarize the note, but in these cases it’s usually better to  quote.  So we will.

Non-accessory parking was a permitted use… as approved in Nov., 1988.  However, your client amended Subarea B… to allow for the development of a multiunit residential building on the site and non-accessory parking was removed from the list of permitted uses.

According to your request letter, since your client purchased the property… and during the amendment process, the property has been used as a non-accessory parking lot, however, there are no valid driveway permits or licenses on file.  According to our records, the last public parking lot licenses expired on March 15, 2016.

It’s not uncommon for a chunk of land in downtown Chicago to be used for surface parking while a real estate developer puts together plans for a new building.  Permission for that sort of thing is granted frequently.  But in this case, the Department of Planning and Development is giving the location a big fat “nope.”  

Author: Editor

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

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