A community meeting on MAC's plans for Shoreland will be held at 7PM, at the Shoreland, on Wednesday evening, September 30, 2009.
As part of the community discussion of MAC Property's plans to restore the Shoreland Hotel to its former glory, HPP offers you a photo tour through the inside of both the Shoreland (this post) and the Del Prado (forthcoming). Bringing these historic and unique buildings back onto the market for modern, quality mid- to high-end rental units at key locations in Hyde Park will be an inestimable service to the neighborhood, its local economy, its heritage, and its quality of life.
HPP supports both of these projects 100%.
What criticism there is of the Shoreland project has focused on parking. This is no great surprise. It is also no great argument against either project. Parking is tight in East Hyde Park, as it is in all urban, dense, high-rise neighborhoods, and that will never change.
MAC's current proposal will add considerably fewer units to the market than the building was meant to hold as a hotel, or ever did as a dormitory. Which means that, in an auto-centric age, its impact on neighborhood parking is already considerably less than it could be.
And, if it adds the maximum number of parking spaces allowable within the physical constraints of the building and Chicago city code, it will be able to provide parking for all patrons to any restaurant in the Grand Ball Room, and rental spaces for approximately 30% of the Shoreland's occupants.
MAC tells us that this number (30%) is in line with the demand for rental parking at its other high rise properties. HPP adds that this is in line with what ideal parking ratios should be -- and often are by default -- in high density urban areas as well.
Parking ratios lower than 1:1 (one parking space per residential unit, as opposed to 1:3) help to lower housing costs for everyone, while allowing MAC to invest more in its building and amenities than it would otherwise have to spend on a parking garage. Lower parking ratios also stimulate demand for people who may choose a car-free lifestyle, relying instead on alternatives such as car-sharing through I-Go or Zip-Car.
Upshot: bringing the Shoreland and Del Prado back on line will not add to Hyde Park's parking problems, because higher-density development tends to reduce auto ownership, lowers development and neighborhood housing costs, and will ultimately support those amenities that make it less desirable to drive everywhere.
Adding more parking than what MAC has proposed would mean gutting a significant portion of the southern wing of the Shoreland. This would go counter to the goals of either preserving the integrity of the building, and of making more room in Hyde Park for people instead of cars.
MAC's Shoreland plan will restore the great majority of a historic building at a conspicuous location, bring a new restaurant to the old Grand Ballroom and rental banquet space to the Crystal Ballroom, and add up to 350 units of rental housing to Hyde Park's housing stock. These are clear benefits to the neighborhood, to the South Side, and to Chicago as a whole.