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City of Chicago Unveils Proposal for 2015 TOD Ordinance

MPC’s Grow Chicago website and TOD Calculator offers users the ability to “design” a development for any parcel in the city.

This month, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) unveiled Grow Chicago, a campaign to grow our city’s population by increasing the opportunity for housing and commercial development near public transportation. Transit-oriented development (TOD) is an effective and efficient growth strategy that limits congestion, reduces pollution, strengthens neighborhood economies and offers equitable access to opportunity. Our interactive website includes a Calculator that allows people to “design” a project and see how it will impact the surrounding community.

Our interactive TOD Calculator demonstrates how TOD is Chicago’s path to growth.

To realize the full growth potential of transit-oriented development, or TOD, MPC recommends the City of Chicago reform the zoning code to allow denser development with less parking near transit, identify a TOD “point person” in the City government who can shepherd major projects, and focus City funds on areas near transit. We also recommend the creation of a sustained civic collaboration to advance TOD across the region.

Today, the City of Chicago took a major step forward in accomplishing these goals. The office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who proposed and worked with City Council to pass a major TOD ordinance in 2013, unveiled a proposal for a reformed TOD ordinance that would accomplish many of the changes MPC is pushing for. The ordinance is likely to be reviewed by City Council at its September meeting.

An initial analysis of the ordinance conducted by MPC shows that the change would more than double the area of land benefiting from increased allowed density, compared with the 2013 ordinance, from 13 million sq. ft. of parcels to 31 million sq. ft. (this represents just a small portion of the city’s total developable area).

The ordinance would increase by more than 10 times the area that would benefit from reduced parking requirements, from 86 million sq. ft. of parcels to 957 million.

Review MPC’s full analysis of the proposed 2015 TOD ordinance.

MPC also analyzed the proposed ordinance using the data provided by our TOD Calculator, which estimates benefits from new development. Our findings show that the ordinance, if passed, could result in the following benefits for the city of Chicago over the course of the next 20 years:

The ordinance provides these benefits by making the following zoning changes:

Example of a CTA or Metra rail station entrance and impacted areas with reduced parking requirements

Metropolitan Planning Council

The 2015 TOD ordinance would allow reduced parking requirements for developments on parcels up to a half-mile from rail stations.

Graphic showing increase of on site affordable housing with respect to Chicago's 2015 TOD ordinance

Metropolitan Planning Council

Chicago’s 2015 TOD ordinance offers additional density in exchange for affordable housing on site.

MPC hails this proposed zoning ordinance as an important step forward in growing our city toward its transit system. We are excited to work with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, residents, businesses and community groups to encourage the passage of this ordinance, which we see as the first step toward a truly transit-oriented Chicago.