Goal: Promote Equitable Transit-Oriented Development - Recommendation 1: Engage Stakeholders to Define Community Priorities for Future Development within TOD Areas

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The McKinley Park Development Council should continue to facilitate discussions of future development with developers while ensuring adequate outreach and engagement is provided to residents. Potential options include MPDC creating a subsidiary (such as a community development corporation) or partnering with an existing organization (such as The Resurrection Project) to lead resident engagement and advocacy efforts. Ultimately, MPDC should continue to work on developing and growing trust with the community so that they are most effective in contributing to future equitable development within TOD areas.

Developing a community strategy for “equitable transit-oriented development” (eTOD) is one way to ensure that high-opportunity areas surrounding the 35th/Archer station remain inclusive and also provide opportunities for longtime residents. In short, eTOD makes sure that the benefits of living near transit are available to people of all income levels, and aligns public and private investments for optimal returns for communities. To ensure that the goals of affordability, transit access, and economic development are met, successful eTOD requires engagement and collaboration between the housing and transportation sectors, various levels of government, and organizations and groups within the community. A group comprising members of community organizations, local businesses, affordability advocates, and the public sector can be instrumental in coordinating this engagement.

Continue to build MPDC’s technical capacity and look to existing community development organizations for ideas, support, and resources

From an outreach endeavor (eTOD Expert Panel), CMAP and local stakeholders worked with a group of experts who have dealt with TOD or are currently working with TOD developments in their communities. This group helped explore ways to create a guideline for McKinley Park’s future TOD development. They identified some shared principles to guide future TOD in the area. The group also established priorities, including the importance of including affordable housing in future TOD, a broad desire for maintaining the diverse and family-friendly character of the neighborhood, and using TOD as a means to gain more public gathering places and further strengthen the Archer and 35th Street retail districts near transit.

The eTOD Expert Panel also discussed the importance of offering good models for providing collaborative leadership. MPDC is uniquely positioned to build on these coalitions and convene a new partnership to develop and communicate a shared vision for eTOD. In addition, given the close connection between the goals of eTOD and those of housing affordability, and those of housing affordability and retail, MPDC may choose to form a single coalition to implement this plan’s eTOD and housing recommendations, in order to collectively advocate for broad implementation of equitable principles.

A coalition can help explain the opportunities and potential consequences of eTOD to the community and get its input. Guidance emerging from this group would help political leaders and developers shape projects that they can be confident the community will support, making the development approval process more stable and predictable. It could also help reform codes and policies that influence station area development when necessary. In addition to the overall guiding role of this coalition, there are several specific strategies that it may want to pursue the goal of equitable transit-oriented development.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan eTOD panel 20190613 CMAP

On June 13, 2019, CMAP convened a technical panel of experts to help establish an equitable framework that measures the social and economic impacts of future development around transit areas in McKinley Park. The McKinley Park eTOD Panel was composed of individuals representing a wide variety of perspectives. The panel included CMAP staff with expertise in development, housing, and transportation, as well as external partners, including DPD, nonprofit developers, and representatives from community development corporations. Findings from the panel helped informed the strategies in this chapter.

Use public engagement tools, such as visual preference surveys, to educate residents, and establish community goals for the form and design of new development projects

To ensure that new TOD development is consistent with the existing urban fabric of the neighborhood, stakeholders should include discussion of form and design in their outreach efforts. Guidelines for development can incorporate considerations for density, street frontage, setbacks, massing, and other urban design or architectural elements. There are many existing studies and other resources to aid in this effort, and zoning and development regulations can provide tools to communicate and achieve the desired forms for new development.

McKinley Park is a community with a high level of civic engagement and energy. Community organizations and religious groups have engaged neighbors to work together to address the evolving needs of the neighborhood. As the neighborhood has experienced shifting patterns of immigration to and within Chicago, MPDC and other civic groups have incorporated new populations into their organizations. To respond successfully to evolving challenges and opportunities, MPDC will need to continue community involvement. Public outreach for this plan has similarly struggled to gain the participation of Latino and Asian residents at a level comparable to their share of the neighborhood population. Going forward, engaging all residents and other stakeholders needs to be a greater priority for civic organizations in the community and the upcoming effort to create an eTOD framework and implement this plan.

Designing a framework for eTOD based on civic engagement will help ensure that new development is based on the community’s needs and wants. One example of achieving this goal is through a visual preference survey. A visual preference survey (VPS) is a way to receive public feedback through illustrated and physical design choices. It is often used when designing new development in the community. A VPS may consist of a sequence of images that residents must rank according to their preferences and needs. Images may be a combination of actual photographs from the community or other communities illustrating potential designs. Residents share their input, which is later used to make decisions about future development. In order to understand the community’s needs, a VPS must be tailored to the community.

The planning process did a lot to help McKinley Park figure out what the vision is for transit-oriented-development is in the community. But there is still a need for community education and involvement. One way to do so would be for MPDC to keep conducting VPS periodically with different groups.

Build strong working relationships with local business and property owners through continued outreach

McKinley Park Development Council meeting 20190918 Kendra Freeman TOD panelFrom "Development Council Talks TOD, Preps Preview of Neighborhood Plan," published on October 9, 2019, in the McKinley Park News.Throughout the planning process, community stakeholders emphasized their desire to maintain the signature diversity of the neighborhood’s small businesses. McKinley Park’s commercial corridors have provided entrepreneurial opportunities, and have been part of the overall business and service ecosystem that has made the community an ideal location for families and newly arriving residents. With new development and in the 21st-century economy, local small businesses of all kinds face challenges, especially competition from national chains and online retailers. Support and guidance from trusted allies and local government offices can help small business owners navigate many common difficulties. Chapter 3 offers detailed recommendations on how the community can build upon these programs to further assist neighborhood businesses.

Property owners and advocates alike expressed a desire to increase connections between existing business and property owners. MPDC stands out as a strong partner for implementing this strategy. It is essential to gain a thorough understanding of the practical needs of business owners, commercial property owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs — as well as the resources they currently rely on. By working together to successfully engage and build support for local property owners, businesses, and entrepreneurs, they will also be able to provide strong impetus for future development.

A major step would be to focus on increasing communication, such as: surveying business owners and property owners in order to provide them with information on community events, developments, and other programming; providing information in the community’s most commonly spoken languages other than English — such as Spanish and Mandarin; and creating translated materials that can promote existing programs, services, and community meetings where the opinions of community members are valuable.

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