TOD building at 730 N Milwaukee is on its way up

TOD building at 730 N Milwaukee is on its way up

It’s exciting for MAPS to be the permit manager for two high-profile projects in West Town, one right across the street from each other. The latest building is across Milwaukee Avenue – the Hipster Highway – from Spoke, at 730 N Milwaukee Ave. It’s being developed and constructed by Tandem Partners, and designed by Antunovich Associates.

Foundation under construction at 633 W North Ave

Foundation under construction at 633 W North Ave

Power Construction is building the foundation and superstructure for the mixed-use residential TOD building at 633 W North Avenue (read our project profile). The building, designed by FitzGerald Associates for the developer White Oak Realty Partners.

MAPS is the permit manager on the project and has so far obtained the permit for the foundation and superstructure up to the underside of level three.

These photos were taken this morning from the Brown Line train by Brandon Clementi, one of MAPS’s project managers.

Comment

Chicago planning department proposes changes in Kinzie PMD to allow more office space

At a public meeting on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) proposed minor changes to the Planned Manufacturing District (PMD) #4, Kinzie Industrial Corridor. PMDs are intended to preserve the city’s manufacturing bases by preserving manufacturing zoning; essentially, only manufacturing uses are permitted. A small number of commercial uses are allowed, such as accessory retail, food & beverage, and office uses. The meeting was part of the Kinzie Framework Plan, part of Mayor Emanuel’s Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative.

In the proposal, the Kinzie PMD’s boundary would remain as-is, but the areas covered by Subareas A and B would change. Subarea B would move to cover the area east of Ashland, and the Subarea A would cover the area west of Ashland. The FAR limit of 3.0 would remain. (This PMD’s boundaries were first truncated, last year, to remove the area east of Ogden.)

Existing PMD map

 The PMD and its subareas are shown in blue. The black outline is the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.

The PMD and its subareas are shown in blue. The black outline is the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.

Proposed PMD map

 In the proposed PMD map, the internal border between subareas A and B would shift to the east, and the positions of A and B would swap.

In the proposed PMD map, the internal border between subareas A and B would shift to the east, and the positions of A and B would swap.

Some of the changes are significant: The area of the PMD closer to the Fulton Market construction and conversion activity would allow larger office, retail, retail food and beverage, and eating and drinking establishments. The PMD would not open up to allow residential.

What’s proposed

DPD has proposed the following changes in Subarea B:

  • Maximum area for offices would be eliminated, except for the current FAR limitation of 3.0. (There’s a current exception in that there is no maximum area when reusing a building, except for FAR 3.0.)

  • Maximum area for retail food & beverage sales would increase from today’s 3,000 s.f. to 8,000 s.f. (convenience store, grocery store, liquor store)

  • Maximum area for eating & drinking establishments would increase from 4,000 s.f. to 8,000 s.f.; owners would be able to apply for a variation from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build up to 12,000 s.f. (bars and restaurants)

  • There could be freestanding retail locations up to 3,000 s.f. per store; currently, a store can only be built as an attachment to the factory that makes the goods sold in the store (the Zoning Board of Appeals would be able to increase this with a special use permit)

  • Recycling facilities and waste-related uses would no longer be allowed in the area east of Ashland Avenue.

If you have any questions about how this affects your existing properties or proposed developments, or you would just like to discuss your zoning options in the Kinzie PMD, please contact MAPS.

More info

View the slideshow presented at the meeting. View the other materials in the Kinzie Framework Plan process. If you would like to comment on DPD’s proposal, send them to dpd@cityofchicago.org.

Comment

Two types of Chicago Zoning Reports to get just what you need

Two types of Chicago Zoning Reports to get just what you need

A big market need that has lacked a relevant solution, until now

After several years of experience preparing Chicago zoning reports, we noticed two levels of need among brokers, property managers, builders, and developers. The first need is gaining an overview of what can and can’t be done with a property in its current state and zoning district. The second, more complicated need, is gaining a deeper understanding of what can and can’t be done with the property in the future, and if a zoning change is required.

Regardless of the zoning need, most professionals obtain Chicago zoning reports through law firms, which can be slow, expensive, elusive, and cursory in the details they provide. We decided there's a better way. We developed quick, easy, and right-fit solutions that meet these two levels of need in ways that are both affordable and transparent.

Introducing MAPS Zoning Report – when a quick overview is needed

Once the Chicago zoning classification is known, our Zoning Dashboard aggregates all the relevant information to provide a full and accurate picture of current possibilities and constraints. MAPS Zoning Report is an automated process that delivers the required information for only $249 (this price is a limited time offer) within only 48 hours – upfront and clear. Sample reports can be downloaded so you can see exactly what you will get.

We provide valuable information often missing from other Chicago zoning reports including financial incentives available in the district, if the property is in a landmark district or not, and other special circumstances that could complicate things. We also offer a revision period to answer questions or provide additional details.

MAPS Zoning Report plus - when more tailored information is needed

After a basic level report is reviewed, sometimes more in-depth information is required to understand what changes or approvals are needed to achieve business objectives for the property – in other words, what zoning changes, special use permits, or other entitlements must be acquired. When this occurs, a more rigorous process of information gathering is required to understand the plans for the property, what uses or unit quantity is envisioned, and the project budget. MAPS Zoning Report plus is a more consultative process that delivers the required information for only $499 within 5 days – upfront, clear, and insightful.

Through in-depth conversations we get to know the client's intent for the property. Then we run through an array of options before suggesting a path forward to alter the current zoning district so the project plans comply with the Chicago zoning ordinance. We incorporate our understanding of trends in the ward to provide informed perspectives on how likely some of the options are given the current mindset of the alderman — we know what’s important to them, and their recent history in changing Chicago zoning districts in their word. We also review similar Chicago zoning changes that have been approved in the ward by people like yourself, and which process they used, to provide additional perspectives on your project.

Depending on which course of action is best, we will narrow down the options to either one or some combination of four processes to modify the property’s zoning district:

  1. Chicago zoning change or re-zoning
  2. Administrative adjustment
  3. Special use permit
  4. Variation

After determining the best path forward, we provide clients with actionable insights on managing the right process to modify a Chicago zoning district. If clients would rather have professionals take care of it — we provide an additional service that handles the entire thing, no headache or hassle required.

To contact us or learn more about our Chicago zoning solutions, please visit MAPS Zoning Reports at https://www.map-strategies.com/zoning-assessment/

Keeping on top of your compliance can save you, in so many ways

Keeping on top of your compliance can save you, in so many ways

So many licenses, so many ways to fall behind

It’s easy for hotels in Chicago to fall out of compliance, as they must maintain a multitude of permits and licenses. When this happens, it can cause a ripple effect of problems that can feel like there is no end in sight. Beyond the expenses of addressing licensing or building code violations, bigger costs can come when hotels aren’t able to operate certain services, cutting down on revenue until the compliance issues are resolved. Moreover, there are negative effects on staff when the “blame game” happens because a manager, often in the dark, forgets to renew a license.

A hotel is a complex business in so many ways with employees responsible for so many different functions to keep the property running, profitable, and providing great guest experiences. Managing compliance may not be a general manager’s core responsibility and thus it often slips through the cracks to the point that can cause real damage to the business.

How hotels can fall out of compliance resulting in building code violations

 No need for manually entering in reminders on your calendar - MAPS will track it for you

No need for manually entering in reminders on your calendar - MAPS will track it for you

Upwards of one hundred licenses and permits are required in hotels, many of which need to renewed as frequently as each year. When you add up all the licenses and their different renewal dates, it’s a lot to keep track of even for the smallest hotels. Additional issues happen when building code violations occur that go unnoticed. This happens when inspectors show up at a property and don’t tell anyone that they are coming or that they had been there. Unannounced inspections can cause real problems for hotels, especially when the violations are not addressed in a timely manner. When time lapses on these building code violations, penalties can mount, causing what can be substantial resources required to finally resolve them.

How MAPS Tracker works

Imagine you're the general manager of a hotel with hundreds of guest rooms. Like many hotels, you have mini-bars, multiple restaurants, catering services, and other amenities that require licenses. There are a lot of aspects to running a hotel, so it’s easy for a general manager to miss a letter calling for the renewal of a liquor license, and when this happens, alcoholic beverage services must be shut down. City staff don't work on weekends, but your hotel does. If the restaurants can't sell beer, the hotel can't make money.

A client came to us to help them prevent this kind of situation. They were familiar with our technological capabilities and knew we had a deep understanding of the licensing and permitting process. We built a program around a database of the client’s licenses, embedded the expiration dates of each one, and set up automated email notifications to be sent to responsible contacts prior to expiration. The email notifications are continually sent at 90, 60, and 30 days out, and additional ones within the 30 days until the license has been renewed. We update the database as changes are made by the city, setting in motion the renewals for the following year, as well as answer questions as they come during the process.

When required, we use FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)  to find out if any building code violations exist that aren’t in the city’s database or have an outdated status. As part of this product, we scan the full set of the client’s licenses and potential violations, and provide additional permit expediting services, business code consulting, or negotiate at city hall, if required, as to what the violation is and how to resolve it.  

What you don’t know can hurt you

There are so many things to keep track of when staying complaint at a hotel. It’s difficult for any business to stay on top of this stuff, know who to talk to, what the process is, which forms are required, etc. This kind of thing is our day job – we live and breathe it to ensure your healthy business stays that way. Through MAPS Tracker, we have automated much of permit and license renewal process to give you confidence that there aren’t any building code violations or expirations lurking out there that can cause serious issues for your business.

A superior solution with a real track record of keeping ahead of compliance issues

Since developing this systematic tracking system over three years ago and helping our client realize measurable results we have expanded its utility to allow any business to use it. While we have shown here the positive impact in the hospitality industry, it is particularly applicable to other businesses that must maintain several permits and licenses to operate. The monthly subscription is an easy-to-use and a low-cost solution that keeps companies ahead of the game. For more information and to contact us, please see MAPS Tracker at https://www.map-strategies.com/maps-technology/

What is a compliance partner?

What is a compliance partner?

MAP Strategies (MAPS) is defining the groundbreaking role of compliance partner. Our group of diverse professionals is solely dedicated to managing the overall compliance requirements of architecture and real estate.

MAPS embraces the code and permitting process as one of the most important drivers of a successful project. Instead of being in a constant state of stress and confrontation with the unknown, we take ownership of the process by establishing strategies and goals which make it predictable, achievable, and enjoyable.

A compliance partner focuses on editing architectural designs prior to permit submittal and strategically planning the mission of permitting and licensing, resulting in a wealth of benefits. With these goals at the front and center of the pre-construction process, projects are completed with better design outcomes and both time and money saved.

Developers in Chicago who don't have a compliance partner are at a disadvantage. In the ever-changing world of real estate development, the stakes are high to get it right the first time. Their expeditors, architects and engineers spend too much time reacting to the idiosyncrasies of the permit and review process with various codes and must reactively retool the building design.

Technology has allowed us to design buildings faster and more collaboratively, and the role of traditional expeditors or after-the-fact code consultants is too slow, marginalized, and disconnected to be effective. Compliance partners integrate with the full design and development team in real time as an essential team player. “To adapt to the modern market, using a compliance partner early to edit the building and drive the schedule makes good business sense,” says Heather Morrison, MAPS founder.

“By working with us,” Morrison says, “we can reduce the length of a project’s construction cycle by as many as six months.” If the massive response from the development community is any indication, the idea is working. Since Morrison founded MAPS in 2014 it has quickly grown into a 15-person firm. MAPS works with some of the biggest developers in the Midwest, including Fifield, Related Midwest, Golub, and Cedar Street.