BY THE REAL DYL (DYLAN LARSON-HARSCH) —
A new project has taken root in Shorewood. Slated to be completed next fall, a Metro Market will take the place of the vacant lot that formerly housed Walgreens and the Harry W. Schwartz Bookstore. Additionally, a six-story building with retail space and upscale apartments will be constructed to replace the Pick n’ Save. A parking structure will serve as the midpoint between these two buildings.
Metro Market, which, like Pick n’ Save, is owned by Roundy’s, will serve as a better quality alternative than the store it is replacing. Among other improvements, there will be an expanded produce section and a wine bar.
At its face value, this new development seems like an improvement on what it replaces. The barren and abandoned lot left behind by Walgreens and Schwartz will transform into a new, vibrant place that will add to Shorewood’s growing downtown. However, there are some problems with this new development that infringe on Shorewood’s culture and way of life that will make it very hard for most residents to enjoy the new structures.
From the beginning, there were numerous pitfalls in the building plans that somehow got overlooked. There was no bike lane near the store, stranding Shorewood’s long-standing community of cyclists to navigate alone through the increased traffic brought by the new developments. The only entrance to the entire two-block complex was in the parking structure, presumably under the assumption that the only customers to the Metro Market would arrive by car. Additionally, green space, which I hoped would be a given to include in any 21st century development, was absent from the plans.
Fortunately these issues were, in part, remedied by a deluge of community outcry. A bike lane was installed, one entrance was added near the parking structure and the parking garage was adorned with hanging plants. I applaud the developer for listening to the concerns of the community, but despite these changes, at its core, the Metro Market remains a car-centric development that will inhibit the lives of Shorewood citizens.
There is still no pedestrian entrance that goes into the Metro Market, an addition that I would think to be common sense. Without an entrance on the intersection of Kenmore and Oakland, there can be no integration between other Oakland shops, and the Metro Market turns into a “pedestrian dead zone.” This exclusion could be purposeful; without easy access to enter and exit the store, customers would be more inclined to do all their shopping at the Metro Market rather than go to other locations like Sendik’s. This reason, however, is a selfish and unjust one that goes against Shorewood’s reputation as a “walkable community.”
Another hindrance on the Shorewood lifestyle comes from the traffic increase brought by the development. The parking structure part of the Light Horse 4041, an apartment building one block from the proposed development, traffic on Oakland is already difficult to navigate, especially by bike. With another epicenter of car activity, that stretch of Oakland will be impassable come rush hour.
In conclusion, the new development is a great idea, but ultimately, it is a car-centric building that goes against Shorewood’s way of life, and many changes still need to be made to maintain the community’s health.