Attract 100,000 new residents to live near transit

MPC's TOD calculator makes the case for development near transit in Chicago

Grow Chicago

Grow Chicago interactive map

In summer 2015, the Metropolitan Planning Council unveiled Grow Chicago, a campaign to grow our city’s stagnant population by increasing the opportunity for housing and commercial development near public transportation in neighborhoods across Chicago. Our interactive website includes specific recommendations and support from MPC and our partner, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, for the City of Chicago to strengthen zoning and financial incentives to increase transit-oriented development (TOD) in different types of markets. Grow Chicago also provides a first-of-its-kind calculator that allows people to tally the benefits of a new development proposal to a local community, in terms of additional retail stores, tax revenues, nearby jobs, new residents, annual transit rides and affordable housing units.

Chief among our recommendations: amending Chicago’s 2013 TOD ordinance to dramatically expand the areas that qualify for incentives. City Council approved this reform in September 2015, a major victory for Grow Chicago. This amendment more than doubled the area of land that can benefit from increased allowed density and increased by some tenfold the area that can benefit from reduced parking requirements. By encouraging developers to build new opportunities for people of all incomes to live, work and shop near transit in neighborhoods across the city, we are helping grow Chicago and giving more Chicagoans excellent access to high-quality schools, jobs, retail and parks.

Martin Sorge “In order to fully capitalize on the Chicago Transit Authority’s transformative renovation of the Wilson Red Line station and its long-term investment in the Uptown community, the Wilson Underline—an inviting, safe and vibrant transit-oriented public space for all of Uptown’s residents, customers and visitors—has been planned by and for the Uptown community. The Underline will not only leverage the CTA’s investment but also enhance the CTA customer and Uptown resident/visitor experience by providing a space like none other in the City of Chicago that will bring people together, provide food truck dining, seating, dynamic lighting, green space and public art, and create a vibrant commercial and community space.”

—Martin Sorge, Executive Director, Uptown United & Business Partners, the Chamber for Uptown

Next steps

To encourage more affordable housing near transit in “hot” markets and more commercial and retail development near transit in disinvested areas, MPC is working with a civic collaborative of finance, development and community revitalization experts to explore new financial incentives and community engagement models. Grow Chicago’s goals not only require policy and financing solutions, but also considerable local support. We will continue to educate the public about the many ways additional density near transit can be beneficial, whether by supporting more local businesses, repurposing vacant land and buildings, or striking a local balance between affordable and market-rate housing.

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