McKinley Park Development Council board member Kara Breems, right, introduces panelists during the September 18 meeting at Kristoffer's Cakes.

Development Council Talks TOD, Preps Preview of Neighborhood Plan

Published October 9, 2019

Big changes to building density and population could be in the sights of the McKinley Park neighborhood, thanks to the expanded transit-oriented development zones now covering most of the community area. This was one of the takeaways from the September 18 meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council, which featured a panel discussion on Equitable Transit-Oriented Development, or ETOD.

"TOD  is not created equally by all neighborhoods," said Kendra Freeman of the Metropolitan Planning Council. To mitigate negative effects like gentrification, the City of Chicago has adopted ETOD measures to "encourage holistic planning and equitable planning," Freeman said.

McKinley Park Development Council Community Meeting 20191016The McKinley Park Development Council Community Meeting on Wednesday, October 16, affords the public a chance to view and comment on the draft neighborhood plan.Transit-oriented development adds options for property builders, allowing them to construct taller, denser developments with fewer requirements to include parking spaces. The 2013 Chicago ordinance that kicked off TOD received an update this year to include considerations for socially equitable development, as well as an expansion of transit zones to include high-frequency bus routes like those on Ashland and Western avenues.

Equitable development practices include a focus on housing affordability, Freeman said, including no displacement of existing residents. Other considerations of ETOD planning are establishing walkability for residents and enabling a mixed-use environment that includes retail and commercial spaces.

 
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Big benefits can come from properly planned ETOD, Freeman said: Residents close to transit are 40 percent less likely to drive, reactivated properties drive higher tax revenues, and property values rise in areas surrounding active transit.

Parking Concerns

Lindsay Bayley, Senior Planner at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), spoke on parking issues tied to ETOD and neighborhood development, including the fact that building more parking capacity attracts more drivers and their cars.

"We can't solve our parking problems by increasing supply without increasing cost," Bayley said. The costs of parking are "baked into everything" and create more pollution and congestion for everyone, including the 25 percent of Chicago households that don't drive, she said.

Policies that can help mange parking in ETOD neighborhoods include residential permit parking zones and metered parking for business areas. Parking should be limited in new buildings, with parking leased separately from rental residences, Bayley said, and continued improvements to walking, biking and transit experiences will help residents ditch their cars.

What ETOD Means for McKinley Park

CMAP Associate Planner Enrique Castillo identified a number of areas in the McKinley Park neighborhood for potential ETOD development. In particular, many of the vacant lots and underutilized spaces surrounding the 35th and Archer Orange Line stop on the El offer prime potential for ETOD development, he said.

Castillo noted that transit-oriented development is going to be a key focus of the coming neighborhood plan for McKinley Park, a project the development council won from CMAP that has been underway since early 2018. In particular, the already-issued Existing Conditions Report for the neighborhood plan identifies TOD opportunities and related planning.

CMAP is also adding traffic studies and streetscape improvement suggestions to the neighborhood plan for six key intersections in the neighborhood, Castillo said. This includes the intersections of Archer Avenue and Leavitt Street, and Archer and Ashland avenues, both of which abut Orange Line El stops.

Neighborhood Plan Preview

The McKinley Park neighborhood plan project includes a comprehensive set of recommendations based on existing conditions, community feedback and best practices in urban planning. A series of workshops, meetings, surveys and outreach events have informed this process, which is now nearly complete.

Next Wednesday, October 16, neighbors, community stakeholders and local leaders have a final opportunity to learn what the plan portends and offer their feedback about plan priorities, from establishing specific policy positions for affordable housing to which areas of the neighborhood deserve the most attention. The public is invited to the McKinley Park Development Council Meeting on Wednesday, October 16, at the field house in McKinley Park, to view the draft plan and offer feedback to CMAP and the development council.

McKinley Park Development Council meeting 20190918 Kendra Freeman TOD panelThe Metropolitan Planning Council's Kendra Freeman discusses transit-oriented development alongside fellow panelists Caitlin Goodspeed and Enrique Castillo, both from CMAP.


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