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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

City Blocks Startup Cloud Kitchens’ Plan To Open In North Center Over Parking

The commercial kitchen startup founded by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wanted a transit-oriented designation for the development, but Ald. Matt Martin opposed the plan. It's unclear if the business will open anyway.

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NORTH CENTER — A zoning change that would allow Cloud Kitchens to open up a commercial kitchen in North Center for delivery-only restaurants was denied by the city.

In July, the startup announced it wanted to buy a building at 4131 N. Rockwell St. in order to build a 9,000-square-foot commercial kitchen. As part of the company’s plan, the startup was pursuing a transit-oriented development designation, or TOD, that would have allowed the business to reduce their parking requirement from three spaces to zero.

Although Cloud Kitchens was eligible for TOD status because the building’s close proximity to Western Avenue, Zoning administrator Patrick Murphey with the city’s Department of Planning and Development denied the zoning change Thursday. 

It is unclear if Cloud Kitchens will open despite the setback. Messages left with Cloud Kitchens and Kalanick were not returned.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th), who met with neighbors over the summer on the project and opposed the commercial kitchen plan, said the business would have significantly increased traffic in the mostly residential area because it relies heavily on delivery drivers. According to a traffic study conducted by the startup, during daytime hours, traffic would increase by 19 percent. And during evening hours, it would increase by 75 percent.

“It became clear that Cloud Kitchens’ business model would result in a significant increase in car traffic on Rockwell Avenue and in the surrounding residential streets,” he said. 

Martin earlier called the business model the “antithesis” of TOD’s goal to reduce car traffic by promoting the use of public transit. 

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a controlling stake in Cloud Kitchens. He helped found Uber in 2009, but resigned amid a cloud of crises that rocked the ride-sharing company, including allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

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