Emanuel To Propose Streamlined Ordinances For Transit Oriented Developments

Orange and Brown Line trains pass each other like. . . well, like two trains passing in the night.

Orange and Brown Line trains pass each other like. . . well, like two trains passing in the night.

Chicago is arguably one of the most public transit-friendly cities in the country. Mayor Rahm Emanuel will take action this week to encourage developers to place even more emphasis on transit.

Emanuel plans to introduce a transit oriented development (TOD) reform ordinance at the July 29 City Council meeting. The reform would create incentives for more development near CTA and Metra stations.

The move could generate significant new economic activity: more than $400 million, according to a preliminary analysis from the Metropolitan Planning Council. The council also foresees nearly $100 in new tax revenue for the city.

Bicyclists in the West Loop.

Bicyclists in the West Loop.

The goal of the ordinance reform is to encourage developers to build mixed commercial and residential structures near transit stations. That in turn would expand access to transit and generate growth in those neighborhoods.

Specific enhancements to the zoning code are:

  • TOD incentives in an expanded radius—up to ¼ mile from a transit station, and ½ mile on a pedestrian-designated street.
  • Elimination of the residential parking requirements if the development has alterntive transportation options (e.g., car sharing station or bike parking).
  • Allowing developers to secure benefits like FAR through an administrative adjustment from the zoning administrator (rather than a zoning map amendment by the City Council).
  • An additional .025 FAR for projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site. The developer would get an additional .025 FAR increase if the development includes all required affordable housing units.

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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