MPC Will Survey Residents on What Kind of TOD They Want at 95th Red Line Stop

The new 95th Street station. Photo: Jeff Zoline
The new 95th Street station. Photo: Jeff Zoline

In 2014, the Metropolitan Planning Council held workshops with residents to brainstorm ideas for Logan Square’s Emmett Street Parking lot, adjacent to the Logan Blue Line station. This sowed the seeds for the plan for a 100-percent affordable transit-oriented development on the site, which was approved by community members this spring.

Once again MPC will be leading the community input process that will help decide what will go on valuable city-owned land next to an ‘L’ station. Last week Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the CTA announced the 95th Street Transit-Oriented Development Planning Initiative, with the goal of encouraging new development on eight parcels near the recently rehabbed 95th Street Red Line and bus terminal. MPC will be coordinating the community feedback process.

“Today represents an important step towards working directly with Chicago’s communities to spark development that will provide more places to live, work and shop — all within walking distance of a world-class transportation hub,” said Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development, in a statement. “By driving development that is truly inclusive and making the needed investments in our communities, we can build a Chicago that is stronger, fairer and more prosperous than we found it.”

The eight vacant lots are located on State Street north of 95th Street. They were acquired as part of the $280 million station rehab.

“The new 95th Street station was conceived not only as an important transit hub, but also as a new landmark and anchor for the community,” said CTA president Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a statement. “This station can be a catalyst for neighborhood improvements, and this TOD process will ensure that the community has an important say in the outcome.”

The public input process has been dubbed a Corridor Development Initiative. After the CDI process is completed, the CTA will develop a request for proposals from potential developers, based on the outcomes of the planning process, reflecting what residents have said they’d like to see, and what’s feasible for the locations.

“The Metropolitan Planning Council is thrilled to partner with CTA on a community-centered planning process at 95th and State Street,” said Kendra Freeman, director of community development and engagement at MPC. “Large-scale transit improvements can anchor future investments and invite new development. The 95th Street Red Line station has long been a gateway to the Far South Side, and the surrounding 95th Street corridor boasts incredible assets including Chicago State University, the Woodsen Regional Library, faith-based partners and engaged constituents. Better understanding community member’s priorities ensures that the future of this block-long parcel truly serves people’s needs and desires, enriching this long-neglected thoroughfare.”

MPC’s CDI is a three-part planning process that helps residents understand issues that shape development, while creating a set of priorities to guide community leaders as they plan for future development in their neighborhoods. Key to the CDI is the hands-on opportunity for residents to “build” what they would like to see and test whether their projects are financially feasible. Details on the community meetings will be announced in the coming weeks.

Hopefully the final plan for the sites will include plenty of transit-friendly affordable housing, which would make it easier for low-income and working-class residents to access job and education opportunities without needing to own a car.

  • Jeremy

    Are there grocery stores in the area? I would like to see the city facilitate the opening of small, independent grocery stores or co-ops. Maybe include a central ordering/distribution location so the stores can order in bulk to get lower prices.

  • planetshwoop

    What’s the magic of small independent grocery stores? Grocery stores tend to be unionized and decent sources of dependable jobs.

  • Jeremy

    Because large grocery chains have shown an aversion to opening in some areas of Chicago. Also, a grocery store, like any business, can be an opportunity for wealth creation.

  • Anne A

    There are 2 grocery stores 1 mile north at 87th St. I don’t think there’s anything closer.

  • TRPCLRMNTCST

    Running rapid transit in the middle of a highway median presents this interesting paradox of some of the most typically valuable land instead being quite undesirable because of the traffic and fumes.Most likely, the land will become a dollar store. We should put tolls on the highways so we can build parks and bike highways above them. Thats not even to mention the asthma rates in children who grow up nearby to the highways- why dont cars have to pay a user tax?

  • FG

    They do, it’s called a license plate and a city sticker.

    Small stores and co-ops will be more expensive and less useful to lower (and even middle income) South Siders than a big chain store. The city has already subsidized Whole Foods so maybe they can get a Pete’s or Cermak to come here with a minimal tax break.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Locally owned, independent stores create what economists call the multiplier effect. Andersonville’s chamber of commerce funded an amazing study on this that everybody interested in walkable/bikable neighborhoods would value from reading:

    http://www.andersonville.org/business-resources/retail-attraction-market-research/

    “The 2012 Study supports conclusions from the 2004 Andersonville Study of Retail Economics. In that study, the economic impacts were determined for ten participating local businesses and then compared to the potential impacts of ten chain stores. Locally-owned businesses generate substantially more economic benefit to the local economy than chain businesses. For every $100 in consumer spending with a local firm, $68 remains in the Chicago economy. For every $100 in consumer spending with a chain firm, only $43 remains in the Chicago economy. For every square foot occupied by a local firm, local economic impact is $179. For every square foot occupied by a chain firm, local economic impact is $105. The study suggests clear policy implications.

    >Local merchants generate substantially greater economic impact than chain firms.

    >Replacement of local businesses with chains will reduce the overall vigor of the local economy.

    >Changes in consumer spending habits can generate substantial local economic impact.

    Great care must be taken to ensure that public policy decisions do not inadvertently disadvantage locally owned businesses. Indeed, it may be in the best interests of communities to institute policies that directly protect them.

    You can learn more about the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, its findings, and methodology here (http://nebula.wsimg.com/0d5203ffcac30fe852f544a21a475256?AccessKeyId=8E410A17553441C49302&disposition=0&alloworigin=1).”

  • planetshwoop

    I wasn’t planning to have this debate, but here goes.

    First, groceries are capital intensive. To be successful, you have to have a delivery network, and freezers, and lots of turn over for your produce and meat. Margins suck — it’s a competitive business, so your profit margins are really thin.

    My neighborhood has a few independent grocery stores and not only are the prices higher, but the jobs generated are definitely lower wage than the Jewel with union wages.

    So when there are indie grocery stores, they often have higher prices and lower wages for workers. They have to — they just can’t survive without them.

    Second, I see exactly zero evidence that any of the independent grocery stores are “creating wealth”. Like a lot of retail, they are outside operators who come in. The clientele at most of the locals is not the same as the owners.

    And I’m not sure how “sticky” the wealth creation is. Albany Park saw this trend play out with the wave of Korean immigrants in the 80s. They resuscitated Lawrence Ave and then they GTFO to the suburbs and have abandoned the retail there. Other retail corridors have seen the same.

    Last point: there are many paths to wealth creation. There are plenty of network effects of having a popular business with other stores opening nearby to capitalize on the traffic. I just don’t think groceries are it, and I think many want to project what would be nice vs practical.

    In no way am I instructing what should go there. That’s for the residents and users of 95th st. to say. I don’t know the area. But I think too often we want to impose our fantasies on other areas when they just aren’t practical.

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