In a bustling, downtown metropolis with the kind of real estate market we're in right now, a surface parking lot is a sign that something's not right. A parcel of land big enough to fit a few cars could be worth a lot more than you'd ever earn from pay-parking, so when you see them it usually means there just hasn't been a good development proposal for it yet. Or, in the case of a few River North businesses, it could mean that the property was developed in a different time, when a surface parking lot didn't seem like such a bad idea, and the times just haven't caught up with them yet. Either way, as we enjoy our current construction boom (with 18 highrises under construction right now) and wonder what the next surprise development announcement will be, a good place to look is at downtown parking lots.
Several projects have already been announced that will be replacing some of the most notorious downtown parking lots, but there's still quite a few lots that we haven't heard a peep about. In this map, we've compiled some of the worst space-wasting lots in the downtown area that don't have any active building proposals. Hopefully, some developers will be able to use this as a guide for where they can stick their next architectural masterpiece without having to demolish anything existing. Or, if the owners of the lots have just been sitting on the properties hoping the market will warm up, maybe this will serve as a wakeup call. Whatever it is, these surface parking lots hurt the pedestrian flow and need to be dealt with.
All images via Google Streetview
An "Honorable" Mention goes to the entire Near West Loop (between the Kennedy and the River), which has several humongous parking lots that turn the precious-little land between the highway and the water into a confusing mess. They don't make the list because they've all got planned developments, mostly owned by local developer Steven Fifield, who has been trying to woo tenants to hypothetical office buildings, but says nobody will sign because there's no parks in the area. Fifield has a plan to cap the Kennedy and build a park atop it, and it seems those parking lots wont be developed until that happens.
Did we miss something? If you have a parking lot that drives you crazy, let us know in the comments or drop us a line.
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