Mayor looks to drive more development near CTA, Metra stops

SHARE Mayor looks to drive more development near CTA, Metra stops
SHARE Mayor looks to drive more development near CTA, Metra stops

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will propose changes to an ordinance Wednesday aimed at encouraging more developers to build near the city’s public transportation stations.

Proposed changes include eliminating parking space requirements for residential buildings if tenants are offered options such as car sharing stations or bike racks on the property. Developers also would be allowed to build farther from a transit station and still receive incentives.

“From day one of my administration we have invested in our public transportation system to create jobs and revitalize commercial corridors across Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This ordinance will build on those investments, spurring economic development in our neighborhoods, which will benefit residents and small business owners alike.”

Eight projects have been completed under the transit-oriented development ordinance introduced in 2013. It focused on restructuring the city’s zoning code and parking requirements for residential buildings. Generally, developers are required to provide one parking space for every residential unit in a building. The ordinance loosened the requirement and told developers they could designate less car parking space as long as they created bike parking.

Compared with the 2013 ordinance, developers will be able to build farther from a transit station and still receive incentives from the city. The radius originally was 600 feet and now it is up to a quarter mile away or half a mile away on a pedestrian street, a stretch with a high concentration of retail stores.

Both proposed changes would let developers construct larger buildings with more units.

Officials at the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit that advocates for transportation and housing in the city, partnered with the city on the first ordinance two years ago. It said the original plan was well-received but the revised ordinance directly responds to a shift in more Chicagoans abandoning their cars and opting for alternative transportation to get around.

“Chicago has a robust transit network but we haven’t really capitalized on that network in the same way we think other cities have,” said Peter Skosey, executive vice president at MPC. “That is a trend that we see expanding across the country. More and more people are wanting to live by the transit and we want to do as much as we can.”

The city operates the second-largest public transportation system in the nation. This ordinance has garnered support from a handful of aldermen who expressed that TOD zones have generated more revenue and housing within their wards.

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