UIC Students Develop Strategic Transit Oriented Development Plans to Capture Economic Benefits, Improve Vibrancy of Two CTA Rapid Transit Stations — News Story

Student Teams in TOD Studio Course Focused on Linden Purple Line and Ashland/63rd Green Line Stations

tod-1-editedCHICAGO (December 2016) Identifying the benefit of putting surplus land allocated for parking to more productive use for future redevelopment projects was among the findings of UIC graduate student research teams charged with preparing plans to enhance the financial value and vibrancy of two different Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rapid transit stations.

The student teams developed the so-called transit oriented development (TOD) reports through a graduate-level studio course offered by the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Spring 2016 semester. One team studied the Linden station on the Purple Line in Wilmette, and the other team focused on the Ashland/63rd station on the Green Line in Chicago’s Englewood community.

The student teams conducted research into the communities, the surrounding residential and commercial markets and the constraints and potential of the CTA stations. An analysis was completed of CTA-owned parking lots adjacent to both stations to determine usage and market value.

Final presentations of the TOD reports were delivered to CTA and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) officials and community leaders from Wilmette and Englewood.  The course, Topics in Urban Planning and Policy: Transit Oriented Development Studio, was offered by the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and managed by the Urban Transportation Center.

Contact us to request a copy of the TOD plan. Here are brief summaries of each plan:

Linden Station. The station is located within the Wilmette 4th & Linden business district at the end of the CTA’s Purple Line.tod-2-edited

UIC graduate-student researchers determined that the two surface parking lots adjacent to the station were underutilized, at less than 50% capacity during each month in 2014. The sale of surplus capacity could generate upwards of $2 million for the CTA. Redevelopment could add vibrancy to benefit the 4th & Linden business district.

The team analyzed two existing multi-use properties, one in Wilmette and another in nearby Evanston, to provide comparable land value data to better determine the potential for future development on portions of the Linden station parking lot.

As noted in the report, “the UIC TOD Studio heard of the importance of a public process in reviewing a potential development, of the potential for zoning relief and that the community believed that the Linden Station retail district would benefit from increased density.”

Recommendations from the team include:

  • The CTA should solicit proposals and bids to redevelop surplus parking capacity.
  • The CTA would own and operate the remaining parking spaces, as well as the station and train yard.

tod-3-editedAshland/63rd Station.  Located at the final stop on the west branch of the CTA Green Line, the station site is comprised of 2.08 acres and includes a lot that can accommodate 235 cars. Two CTA bus lines serve the station, which is located in a community that has experienced severe population and economic decline since the 1970s.

One major finding from the research team: West Englewood is highly transit dependent, as 24% of households are without access to a car. Workers from the neighborhood are more likely than most Chicagoans to use public transit to reach their jobs.

Strong and active community organizations in Englewood are “engaged to rebuild the neighborhood physically, culturally and spiritually.” One group, Teamwork Englewood, identified five key critical needs for the community, and meetings with area merchants and Ald. Toni Foulkes resulted in a recommendation for enhanced lighting near the 63rd/Ashland station to improve safety.

The parking lot at the station is underutilized, with parking never exceeding 46% over the past five years except during a CTA Red Line closure. On average, only 46 vehicles occupy the lot. Up to one full acre of the lot could be redeveloped.

The students found that there was limited private sector demand for redeveloping the CTA parking lot property, and as noted in the report, “there is a staggering amount of vacant land in West Englewood.” The team estimated that, at $16 per square foot, the CTA could generate around $700,000 from the sale of one acre of the existing site.

Recommendations and insight from the team include:

  • The process to solicit TOD development by a community development corporation, non-profit entity or for- private developer of affordable housing is similar to the process to solicit market- driven, 100%-privately financed TOD developments.
  • CTA will not be financing or driving a community development-driven TOD project, but the CTA will need to serve as a bridge to development — just as it does with other TOD projects.

The Urban Transportation Center at UIC is dedicated to conducting research and education and providing technical assistance on urban transportation planning, policy, operations, and management. The UTC is part of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, a nationally-recognized innovator in education, research, and engagement in support of the nation’s cities and metropolitan areas. Learn more by visiting www.utc.uic.edu.