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December 17, 2009

Plan Commission adopts "Transit Friendly Development Guide"

Study will help coordinate growth around CTA train stations

Peter Strazzabosco    312.744.9276

A "Transit Friendly Development Guide" approved by the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday, Dec. 17, categorizes the Chicago Transit Authority's 144 rail stations by type to help coordinate future real estate investment around each one.

The guide designates each station with one of seven typologies that are common across the rail system. The designations are intended to shape the public's expectations about potential development while identifying the nearby zoning and infrastructure assets that maximize each station as a community anchor, said Patti Scudiero, commissioner of the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning (DZP), which drafted the plan with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Department of Transportation and private consultants.

"The typology designations reflect specific characteristics involving area land uses, densities, nearby employment and other neighborhood traits. Each one will help the city to evaluate and coordinate future infill projects, especially those that promote the use of public transit," Scudiero said.

The seven typologies identified across the system include:

  • Downtown Core – High-density, central business district areas
  • Major Activity Center – Areas with a wide range of densities and activities
  • Local Activity Center – Areas within identifiable neighborhoods
  • Dense Urban Neighborhood – Multi-family residential areas with supportive retail
  • Urban Neighborhood – Mixed-density residential areas with supportive retail
  • Service Employment District – Areas dominated by large employers and institutions
  • Manufacturing Employment District – Characterized by large, low-density buildings

Considered the first typology study of its type in the country, the guide establishes potential development scenarios by using highly developed station areas along the system as models for growth. The Rockwell Station in Ravenswood, for example, demonstrates what less-developed stations that share an "Urban Neighborhood" designation could aspire to, Scudiero said.

"This guide is a unique resource for all stakeholders interested in development around CTA's 144 rail stations," added CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez. "Appropriate transit-friendly development provides an opportunity to reinforce or enhance neighborhood character, as well as promote transit use."

In drafting the proposed guide over the last two years, planners conducted bi-monthly technical workshops with public officials and local interest groups, held open houses on the North and South sides of Chicago, and convened one city-wide stakeholders meeting.