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Public forum to weigh the pros and cons of Chicago’s transit-oriented development boom

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Scheduled for August 22nd, the free event will explore the impact of TOD and where it is headed

A rendering of a TOD near the CTA’s Paulina Brown Line station.
Hirsch Associates

Since taking effect in 2015, Chicago’s expanded Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance has been a major catalyst for new construction in neighborhoods beyond the city’s central core. Designed to allow developments near mass transit to provide minimal on-site automobile parking spaces, TOD remains a touchy subject that still has some Chicagoans divided. The increasingly popular practice will be explored in-depth later this month at a free public forum.

Titled “Transportation Oriented Development – A Philosophy of Urban Planning and Development, and Its Implementation in Chicago,” the panel discussion is being presented by the Greater Rockwell Organization and the Northcenter Neighborhood Association in tandem with Northside Neighbors.

The evening will be moderated by former 44th Ward Alderman and UIC professor Dick Simpson. Panelists consist of Kendra Jackson Freeman of the Metropolitan Planning Council, developer Joshua Krueger of Campbell Street Asset Management, Professor Joseph Schweiter of DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, and Kyle Smith of Antero Group consultants.

Logan Square’s ‘MiCa,’ one of Chicago’s most visible—and arguably controversial—TOD projects.

Chicago’s TOD rules have helped deliver thousands of new—primarily rental units—in transit-rich areas such as the Blue Line’s Milwaukee Avenue corridor and as far north as Evanston. According to its proponents, TOD pays dividends when it comes to environmental friendliness, reduced vehicle congestion, improved neighborhood walkability, and increased retail vibrancy.

However, with the ability to build-up smaller parcels in outlying neighborhoods often not accustomed to new development, increased density is a shared concern among many current residents. Other TOD opponents have a hard time believing the idea that so many Chicagoans are willing to go car-less. To them, it is simply a way for developers to get out of building adequate on-site parking and instead puts greater strain on the already scarce supply of on-street parking.

These and other transit-oriented development issues will be discussed and debated on August 22nd from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lincoln Square’s DANK Haus at 4740 N. Western Avenue. According to the forum’s organizers, all individuals “with an interest in urban development” are encouraged to attend.