MPC’s TOD Tool Advises Developers About Train Station Bonuses

This graphic outlines the parking reductions allowed for non-residential and residential uses in B, C, D, and M zoning districts. Image: MPC

Many developers haven’t yet investigated how last year’s transit oriented development ordinance, passed to encourage development near transit, can make their work easier and possibly more lucrative. Under the TOD ordinance, developers can build bonus density — more floors, taller buildings, smaller units – and fewer parking spaces on sites near Chicago Transit Authority and Metra train stations. To accelerate this transformation, the Metropolitan Planning Council has unveiled a new tool to spread awareness about the TOD ordinance’s possibilities.

To help people understand both the new building allowances and where they’re allowed, the Metropolitan Planning Council has created a set of graphics and a citywide map highlighting parcels where the rules apply: to buildings within 600 feet of rail station entrances, or within 1,200 feet if located along designated Pedestrian Streets. The map also shows the B-3, C-3 and D-3 zoning designations that allow density bonuses.

MPC vice president Peter Skosey said that “we heard through the grapevine that developers were not aware of, and didn’t know the details of, the new TOD ordinance.” Skosey said that MPC will publicize the website among local developers.

These tools are one component of MPC’s “Equitable TOD” campaign to “get more TOD built,” Skosey said. “Land is probably Chicago’s most valuable asset,” and through TOD the city can “use it most efficiently.” By making development around transit stations easier, TOD can encourage more people and activity to settle along existing transit lines, thus increasing transit ridership and “sharing the tax burden” more broadly.

The map shows in yellow where developers can get density bonuses. Developers can get parking reductions in all parcels.
The map shows in yellow where developers can get density bonuses. Developers can get parking reductions in all parcels.

A handful of developers have used the TOD ordinance to relieve their new buildings from Chicago’s typical one-apartment, one-parking-space formula. Centrum Partners is building eight parking spaces for over 40 units next to the Paulina Brown Line station, and BlitzLake Capital Partners proposes 50 parking spaces for its 110 units near the Belmont Red Line station.

Near the Blue Line’s Damen station, LG Development Group just announced a five-story building at 1647 N. Milwaukee Avenue, housing 36 apartments and 11 parking spaces. Since this reduction exceeds the TOD ordinance’s automatic 50 percent reduction, the developer will have to go through an additional administrative adjustment process in addition to the zoning change that their building requires. MPC advocates making the TOD ordinance even more flexible, eliminating parking minimums altogether and thus removing such administrative adjustments.

Early results indicate that parking reductions in the new TOD rules are working as intended. Center for Neighborhood Technology president Scott Bernstein writes in a Next City op-ed that all 99 units at 1611 W. Division Street have been rented, even though the building has no residential parking spaces. Further, 32 of the new resident households sold their cars prior to moving in. The tower was built on the site of what was an auto-oriented Pizza Hut; since last year’s TOD ordinance had not yet been enacted, Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno passed a narrower ordinance two years prior that applied specifically to that site.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Policies and Politics, Not TODs, Are to Blame for Affordable Housing Crunch

|
Yesterday the Tribune’s Mary Wisniewski further explored a topic Streetsblog’s John Greenfield covered two weeks ago for the Reader. Virtually all of Chicago’s new transit-oriented development projects are upscale buildings in affluent or gentrifying neighborhoods. TOD advocates argue that adding housing in these communities will take pressure off the rental market. But some Logan Square residents […]

How Parking Requirements Get in the Way of New Chicago Businesses

|
A proposal to legalize transit-oriented development would make it easier to build walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, in part by halving the car parking requirement for residences and eliminating it for non-residential uses near train stations. The ordinance is set to go before aldermen at the zoning committee’s next meeting in September. Right now, without the ordinance, […]

Can Chicagoland Fix Its Sprawl Problem?

|
Earlier this week we wrote up the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s report about how the Chicagoland region is falling behind other major American metro areas when it comes to focusing growth near transit stations. In Philadelphia, San Francisco, DC, and New York, most new housing is being built close to transit, but not in Chicago. Here, most growth […]

Rumor Mill: New Ordinance Seeks to Legalize Transit-Oriented Development

|
Last week I interviewed Jacky Grimshaw about the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s recent report on Chicago’s lack of transit-oriented development compared to our peer cities. Afterward, I was thinking about the reconstruction of the entire Red Line south of Roosevelt, which will replace tracks and renovate many stations. This project is going to significantly speed up transit, […]

Proposed Development Will Make Blue Line’s Grand Stop a TOD Hotspot

|
Yet another developer is becoming prolific at creating mixed-used, transit-oriented developments. Mark Sutherland has proposed a new TOD building called 710 Grand, first revealed by Curbed in August, at 710 W. Grand Ave., one block east of the Grand Blue Line station in the River West neighborhood. This will be the third TOD building in Sutherland’s Wicker Park […]

Chicago Can Do Much More to Legalize Transit-Oriented Development

|
Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance last Wednesday that would reduce some barriers to transit-oriented development in Chicago, lowering parking requirements and allowing more density near transit stations. While the proposal is a step forward, there’s much more the city can do to ensure that future growth leads to more walking and transit use, not […]