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Group says food manufacturing hub would mean jobs and new life for historic district

Chicago Tribune

A proposal seeks to turn a century-old monument to Chicago's industrial past — three massive city-owned buildings near the old Chicago Union Stock Yards — into a bustling, modern food manufacturing hub.

The city has tried for more than a year to sell the six-story brick fortresses along West Pershing Road near Ashland Avenue. Now the Center for Neighborhood Technology wants the city to consider a more specific redevelopment, one it says would pump jobs, revenue and life back into the historic Central Manufacturing District on the South Side.

While some are skeptical, it might also provide a spark to return the district — a sprawling hodgepodge of warehouses and half-empty buildings — to its glory days as one of the earliest planned industrial parks in the U.S.

"Manufacturing is still one of the keys to the economic future of Chicago," said Stephen Perkins, senior vice president for the nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology. "The Central Manufacturing District is a way to create a 21st-century industrial park."

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Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability

March 25, 2016

Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability explores the relationship between unused parking and neighborhood affordability. Many cities, including Chicago, mandate the minimum number of parking spaces new developments need to build. As the report points out, however, these minimum requirements don’t always reflect real demand.

For this study, we interviewed multifamily developers in Chicago and went to the parking lots and garages of 40 apartment buildings, both market-rate and subsidized, to see how much parking was being used. Researchers went at 4:00 a.m., when most tenants have parked their cars and are asleep in bed. Consistent with our findings in the San Francisco Bay AreaWashington, D.C.; and King County, Washington, the study found that:

  • The supply of parking exceeds demand. Buildings offered two spots for every three units. According to our analysis, they only used one for every three.
  • As parking supply goes up, much of it sits empty. Apartments with fewer spaces saw a greater percentage of their parking used.
  • Apartment buildings near frequent transit need less parking. Buildings within ten minutes of a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train stop provided one spot for every two units. Even then, one-third of the spots sat empty.

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