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We are reclaiming urban public space for people on PARK(ing) Day, Friday, September 16, 2011 from 9am to 5pm.  The designed “PARK(ing) spaces”, metered parking spaces converted into temporary green parks, will be located in front of Southport Grocery, 3552 North Southport Avenue.  The ‘park’ will feature a bicycle repair station, live music, and a lawn for dining and enjoying the day.

In 2009 and 2010, moss Design converted parking spaces into temporary public space, which will be expanded this year to highlight the need for bike infrastructure and open space in Lakeview.  Earlier this year moss Design unveiled a sustainable master plan, prepared for the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and SSA 27.  Part of the plan was a call for more unique and accessible public open space.  This year’s PARK(ing) Day theme is a “Bicycle Comfort Station” featuring free food, live music, bike parking and repair, and relaxation areas.  Think of it as the mini-mart of the future.
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We have been selected by the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce to prepare a master plan for the Lakeview commercial areas!!  Along with our consultant partners, PLACE, we will lead the sustainability and environmental review portion of the planning process.  We are using this year’s PARK(ing) Day to kick off our efforts.  So if you are a Lakeview-ian and have some thoughts about your ‘hood, come talk to us.  Stay tuned, we’ll have updates-o-plenty.

Parking. Its a sore subject here in Chicago.  In 2008 the City decided to privatize it’s 36,000 parking meters – in reality leasing an 8′ wide section of asphalt from the curb to the sometimes-present-bike lane – to a group made up of Morgan Stanley, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Allianz Capital Partners for a $1.16B. Since then, everyone in the City, nay, the world, seems to have developed a disdain to the selling off of public assets.  And rightly so.  Bloomberg News discovered just last month that we Chicagoans got royally hosed on the deal.  It turns out the private group will net $9.58B over the course of the 75-year term.  Oops.  This is more than twice what Alderman Scott Waguespack estimated the City would loose in profits when he denounced the deal and subsequently voted against it in the City Council.

This doesn’t stop the City from praising itself for the move, as Chicago’s CFO, Gene Saffold, touted, “The concession agreement was absolutely the best deal for Chicagoans”.  Going on to wax delusional, “The net present value of $11.6 billion in revenue over the life of the 75-year agreement is consistent with $1.15 billion the city received.”  Um, yeah.  You say this guy does the City’s accounting, eh.  Meanwhile, the Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General called the deal “dubious” since Saffold, “failed to calculate how much the system would be worth over 75 years.  The present value of the contract was $2.13 billion, more than the $1.15 billion the city received”, according to Bloomberg. Read the rest of this entry »

Our PARK(ing) Day installation was a rousing success.  What was once a dearth of human interaction sprouted into a buzzing public park for the day.  Imagine if this one day turned into a week, months, years.  A much better use of our shared public space.  For more, read our parking treatise here.

radioIn case you missed our interview on this morning’s 848 with Allison Cuddy, here is the audio

More press on us here;

WBEZ blog (with video), Gapers Block, Timeout Chicago

PARK(ing) Day 2009Chicago contains roughly 8,000 miles of surface roads, amounting to 77,575 acres of pavement dedicated to the driving and parking of automobiles.  Automotive real estates further balloons when you consider the private parking lots, garages, and alleys.  Comparatively, Chicago dedicates 7,300 acres to public parks.

The streets of Chicago are typically inhospitable to anything but cars, choking out pedestrians, funneling stormwater runoff to inappropriate locations, contributing to air pollution, and obstructing a genial atmosphere amongst the users.

Imagine the possibilities if streets served more than just a single automotive purpose.  A place where, in addition to transportation, water was recharged, food was grown, and people were present.  On Friday, September 18, from 9a-6p at 3552 North Southport Avenue, moss, along with collaborators Stand Design, will transform a surface street parking corral into public space for PARK(ing) Day.  Reclaiming the public realm for the use of all of the public.  Read the rest of this entry »

traffic lightsQuite a bit a fallout this week on the parking meter fee increase which has pushed most Chicago parking meters from $0.25 an hour to $1.00 and hour, the exception being West Loop meters at $2/hour and Loop meters at $3.50/hour.  The backlash has resonated everywhere, from parking meter blogs to a round table discussion on NPR’s eight forty-eight last Friday.  This has caused such an uproar that the Sun-Times is calling it a “quiet rebellion”, and unleashed speculation that this could be the undoing of the mayor as a final straw.  Really?  I am sure there could be a more worthy cause than parking meters? Read the rest of this entry »

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