Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280
^^^ Edgewater is a good example of this. It has the second highest density of any neighborhood in the city and it is almost all based between The El tracks and Sheridan, not in the highrises. Having block after block of 5 story buildings built to the lot lines drives density through the roof regardless of unit size.
Yes, but most of Edgewater's density comes from buildings that cannot be legally built anymore. All of the dense wall to wall courtyard and corner apartment buildings do not have any on-site parking, also the density of units within these buildings will easily fail today's minimum lot area (MLA). We cannot build the ye-old mixed density Chicago neighborhoods anymore. The best we can get as-of-right on residential street is a 6 flat or an 8 flat if the basement is at least 51% below grade, because then it doesn't count against FAR.
Edegwater also has tons of 4+1's which are also no longer allowed under existing zoning either, nor are the high-rises along Sheridan Road which further boost the density of Edgewater; as R-7 and R-8 zones have gone bye bye in the last revision of the zoning code. 4+1's are incredibly dense and have a parking ratio of around 0.5:1. I love counting the mailboxes in 4+1 lobbies because there are just so many of them.
While commercial zoning in Chicago does still provides opportunities for relatively dense mixed-use construction as of right, we do need dense high-rises in areas where allowed to maintain the overall population density in Chicago as old buildings have been torn down, replaced or left abandoned in various neighborhoods and also to offset the smaller family sizes and larger unit demands that we see today. When older buildings were gutted for condo conversions, it was often with a reduction in total units, and additionally, there are plenty of older 2,3 and 4 flats in Lakeview and Lincoln Park that were converted in single family homes, or bulldozed entirely for urban mini-mansions (Burling Street in LP comes to mind).
And then we have the various pocket parks, plazas and playlots added to our cityscape often located where buildings once stood. One reason for Paris's very high density are the very narrow streets which allows for more rentable living spaces to be crammed into a smaller area.
In Chicago's political environment where aldermanic prerogative trumps traditional planning discussions, we need to work within the system to keep Chicago vibrant and economically competitive, rather than hope for a systematic change in zoning policy that will assist in transforming Chicago's neighborhoods into a community that could be found abroad.