How close to an expressway is too close?

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and residents of a condominium building at 400 S Green recently sparred on the siting of an expressway ramp.

IDOT’s original proposal would have placed the ramp within 7.5 feet of the south wall of Green Street Lofts. According to a Tribune report:

“Would you want your child to go to sleep with the highway 7 feet from his window?” asked visibly frustrated Roberto Rivera, a father who lives on the most-affected south side of the building.

The compromise proposed Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Transportation moves the ramp a little farther from the building, between 19.89 feet and 25.9 feet, said John Baczek, IDOT project and environmental studies section chief.

David Lewis, president of the building’s condominium board, said “7 feet was insane, 19 feet is ridiculous.”

“If there’s no plan to save our building, just let us know now,” Lewis said at the public hearing. “If it’s you’re going to screw us now or screw us later, let us know. Our lives are on hold.”

Tens of thousands of city-dwellers live close to one of Chicago’s expressways. How close is too close? Does the answer differ if the price is attractive?

Unit 508, a 2-bedroom, 2-bath at the Green Street Lofts is newly-listed and priced at $449,900. It was purchased for $407,000 in September of 2008. Unit 510, a 3-bedroom, 3-bath, is listed at $479,900, well above the 2005 purchase price of $349,000.


  • Fred 5 years

    I imagine these units have essentially $0 market value at the moment. I mean, who in their right mind would purchase one of these units until this whole mess is resolved?

    • David 5 years

      I sure wouldn’t. The city should at least have the decency to use imminent domain on the building and pay them market value for their units. Putting a highway within 7′ or even 20′ of their building will destroy their property values. I can’t imagine anyone would want to live there. Imagine the noise not only from traffic, but construction along with the smell and concentrated air pollution. No way.

  • Fred,

    Close proximity to the expressway certainly has an impact on market value, but doesn’t destroy it.

    The south end of Green Street Lofts won’t be any closer to the Eisenhower than Haberdasher Square, pictured below at right, is to the Kennedy.

    • David 5 years

      Is the ramp IDOT is discussing supposed to be on the ground, or elevated? I think that makes a pretty big difference. At least the highway by Haberdasher Square is sunk into the ground. That’s still too close for comfort for me.

    • Fred 5 years

      I’m not saying that proximity to the expressway is a market value destroyer, I’m saying the UNCERTAINTY about the exact proximity to the expressway is a market value killer. Who would buy a place not knowing if the expressway was going to be 60, 20, or 7 feet away? Once this issue is resolved the units will be sellable again, but until then I can’t imagine a deal going through.

  • Fred, David,

    There’s some good coverage of the issues, with an illustrative photo of the impact of the IDOT proposal, at Chi.StreetsBlog.

    Curbed has also weighed in with a post.

  • Mike 5 years

    Who buys a unit next to an expressway without thinking “Will the expressway be expanded in the future?” These people are delusional NIMBYS.