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Big Changes Coming to Chicago's Transit-Oriented Development Ordinance

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Tomorrow, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to propose some changes to Chicago's transit-oriented development (TOD) ordinance that would make it easier for developers to build more projects near transit hubs and dense commercial corridors. Generally, the city requires that developers include one vehicle parking space per residential unit, however the TOD ordinance allows developers to cut down their parking requirements by at least half if the project is located 600 feet from a transit station. Developers who build along dense, walkable corridors are also currently allowed to build TODs within 1,200 feet of a city-designated pedestrian street. The mayor believes that the big investment in renovating the CTA stations along the Brown, Red and Blue lines will serve as a catalyst to seeing more transit-oriented developments, and wants to expand the constraints that developers currently have to build within. "This ordinance will capitalize these investments by accelerating development near transit stations," the mayor recently declared.

On Wednesday, the mayor is expected to introduce a reform that would allow developers to build new TODs within 1,320 feet of a transit station—which would more than double the surface area that developers could build within. In addition, the new rules would also allow developers to build TODs within 2,640 feet of designated pedestrian streets.

There has been a flurry of new transit-oriented developments introduced throughout various North Side neighborhoods in the last 16 months, but perhaps no area has witnessed as many TOD proposals as Logan Square. When including a brand new proposal that was just publicly unveiled, the stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Western Avenue and California Avenue has nearly 500 new apartment units slated to be built within the next year. There's almost been a mad dash to capitalize on the best locations, but the mayor's changes will allow developers to broaden their horizons and perhaps build dense projects in residential corridors. While urban planners advocate for density around CTA stations, many residents in the Logan Square neighborhood have fought against every transit-oriented development that has been proposed in the area in the last year. Beyond concerns with height and traffic, many opponents of the dense projects believe that such developments will dramatically alter the feel and character of the neighborhood.

More crucial TOD-related coverage:
New Lakeview Transit-Oriented Development is Well On Its Way
Developers Formally Unveil Logan Square's Latest TOD Plan
Lincoln Avenue Apartment Project Returns With TOD Element
Why Chicago Needs More Transit-Oriented Developments
Mapping the Development Boom Along Milwaukee Avenue

The Metropolitan Planning Council, a longtime advocate of transit-oriented development and urban planning, has recently launched a new web resource that offers a number of different tools for Chicagoans to learn more about transit-oriented development and what it means for their communities. The organization has studied the topic extensively, and has even offered data and recommendations as to where new TODs should be built. On their new Grow Chicago website, the organization includes a TOD "calculator" that highlights the areas where TODs can currently be built and a larger area where they believe that TODs should be built. And if the changes to the ordinance are made, it could not only affect new development in the quickly gentrifying northwest side, but it could also dramatically change the way developers approach new projects in downtown neighborhoods.

·Mayor Emanuel Introduces Transit Oriented Development Reform Ordinance to Accelerate Development Near Public Transportation Stations [City of Chicago]
·Cars make way for bikes in transit-oriented housing proposal [Tribune]
·Grow Chicago [Official website]
·All previous TOD coverage [Curbed Chicago]