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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2015, 11:21 PM
NorthernDancer NorthernDancer is offline
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Why should Chicago focus growth near transit?

http://www.metroplanning.org/news/article/7125

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Transit-oriented neighborhoods in the city of Chicago are in demand but are still losing population because of insufficient new housing construction. The City has taken a number of proactive steps to encourage more development near transit and by overcoming additional zoning barriers, can direct more new development to neighborhoods where transit is most accessible.
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Unfortunately, it’s also a place that fewer and fewer people are able to call home. Gentrification brings investment, but it also brings higher rents and prices. Writing in Crain’s Chicago Business in March, Daniel Kay Hertz pointed out that Lincoln Park as a whole has lost 40 percent of its population since 1950, declining from 102,000 people to just 64,000 today. Over the past decade, its population barely budged.
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As I’ll describe later in this article, one of the primary reasons why homes and apartments in many of Chicago’s neighborhoods are so expensive, and why population has declined, is that zoning has limited the construction of new housing .
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The U.S. government supported a massive investment in the nation’s Interstate Highway System, which allowed fast movement by cars and bulldozed through inner-city neighborhoods in many cities, including Chicago. The federal government provided cheap loans for new housing constructed on vacant land outside of the city. And investment in transit sputtered; indeed, the mileage of rapid transit rail lines in the Chicago region is lower now than it was in the 1950s (more people rode transit in the Chicago region in 1980 than in 2014, despite a population that is much larger).
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One of the major causes of inadequate housing growth in the neighborhoods mentioned above, and with several others located around the city, is that new buildings with significant additional units are often not allowed under the zoning code, which regulates what kinds of buildings can be built, and where.
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Even within a quarter-mile of rail stations, however, more than half of land is zoned to ratios less than 2, which means about two stories in a dense urban neighborhood. As a result, the ability of developers to build new projects to respond to the public’s growing desire to live and work near transit is limited.
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2015, 11:26 PM
Crawford Crawford is offline
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Chicago does focus growth near transit. Basically all the higher density development is somewhat near transit.

But new development isn't a proxy for population growth, and, if looking at the region as a whole, it doesn't matter too much what Chicago does, as the city is only 25-30% of the region. The chart is kind of silly, as it just shows how the region has suburbanized, like the rest of the U.S. It has nothing to do with any current policies re. transit oriented development.

Actually, that whole article is pretty silly. Chicago isn't particularly expensive near transit stations, and it would be stupid to demolish historic neighborhoods for ugly tower blocks, just so there would be more people within proximity to transit.
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2015, 11:31 PM
NorthernDancer NorthernDancer is offline
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Not only does the "L" extend into the suburbs, but the graph takes into account commuter rail stations as well. Thank you for your "contribution" though.
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  #4  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2015, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthernDancer View Post
Not only does the "L" extend into the suburbs, but the graph takes into account commuter rail stations as well. Thank you for your "contribution" though.
Nothing you wrote has anything to do with the article.

The City of Chicago has no jurisdiction over other municipalities, so it wouldn't matter if the L stretched to California. They can only control land use planning within the city limits, which are a relatively small proportion of the overall regional population.

And zoning doesn't really play a major role in long-term macro population patterns. The supposition that more people would have moved to transit oriented development back in the 50's if the zoning were somehow different is kind of laughable.
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 12:28 AM
Kngkyle Kngkyle is online now
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I'm currently looking at condos here in Chicago and I'm mostly interested in newish multi-unit elevator buildings next to or within a few blocks of the red line. There aren't nearly enough options and all of the places I do see are usually sold within 2 weeks. The demand is definitely there to support more development. There is no shortage of strip malls and other low-density buildings right along the busiest heavy rail line in the city that can easily be re-developed.
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  #6  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 1:05 AM
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ardecila ardecila is offline
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
The City of Chicago has no jurisdiction over other municipalities, so it wouldn't matter if the L stretched to California.
Actually, it does.



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And zoning doesn't really play a major role in long-term macro population patterns. The supposition that more people would have moved to transit oriented development back in the 50's if the zoning were somehow different is kind of laughable.
No, TOD probably can't move the dial on transit regionally. A handful of townhouses next to a suburban Metra stop won't stop people from driving to work, even if you did this at all 241 Metra stops. It's more about encouraging development that allows people to use cars less, but this needs to go hand in hand with cultural changes - letting kids walk to school unattended, or making small trips to the corner store instead of weekly expeditions to the Costco. All planners can do is encourage the physical changes to make these things feasible.

Honestly, I think TOD is really a huge misnomer when it comes to Chicago suburbs. We already have scores of traditional, walkable downtowns around most Metra stops that don't really need to change other than gradual infill. The big problem is in all the areas that AREN'T near transit, where planners should still encourage a walkable format with smaller home lots, mixed housing formats, and occasional mixed use. Suburban Chicago's long commercial corridors could definitely be retrofitted for "TOD" if the zoning allowed for it.

In the city, the focus is different. The goal of TOD is to create enough critical mass around transit stations to attract retailers and services, so that a car-free lifestyle is truly possible. Right now in many neighborhoods, even the guy who rides the L to work still has a car parked somewhere so he can drive to North/Clybourn or Roosevelt/Canal for shopping. This would, of course, eventually need to be bolstered with effective crosstown transit lines, either rail or BRT.
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Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 10:01 PM
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Lets also not forget that Chicago's TOD ordinance passed only about a year or 2 ago.

It will be many years before we know what impact it has, but already many of us know that a lot of developments are being proposed/springing up that are taking advantage of it. I'd like to see the TOD ordinance evolve from its current "waking up to the concept of TOD" to fully embracing the concept, with much higher density allowances within a larger radius of transit stops, and with very little or no parking requirements. Or better yet, parking maximums.

Change is slow, however.
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  #8  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Actually, it does.


...
There are some good TOD projects near that station, actually.
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 11:39 PM
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And zoning doesn't really play a major role in long-term macro population patterns.
What? Not only does it play a major role in regional population patterns, but the consensus among those who study this is that it plays a major role in cross-regional population patterns! That is, tight zoning in the SF region doesn't just manipulate whether people live in Haight-Ashbury or San Jose; it changes whether they live in the Bay Area or Phoenix.
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 12:17 AM
Crawford Crawford is offline
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Originally Posted by oshkeoto View Post
What? Not only does it play a major role in regional population patterns, but the consensus among those who study this is that it plays a major role in cross-regional population patterns! That is, tight zoning in the SF region doesn't just manipulate whether people live in Haight-Ashbury or San Jose; it changes whether they live in the Bay Area or Phoenix.
That makes no sense whatsoever. What academic "consensus" are you even referring to?

You are seriously claiming that people move to Phoenix because the zoning in Haight Ashbury wasn't appropriate for prospective Phoenicians back in 1950?

Zoning plays almost no role in macro population trends. It's jobs, family/cultural links and lifestyle. If people want to move somewhere, they do so. If they don't want to move somewhere, they don't. The building stock adapts to the demand, not vice-versa. LA over the last 50 years would be Exhibit A. The zoning didn't change, the population did.

If you upzoned Haight Ashbury, you would destroy what made the neighborhood unique in the first place, and you aren't going to attract exurban Sunbelters anyways.
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Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 2:07 AM
thewaterman11 thewaterman11 is offline
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Zoning's gotta play some kind of role.

Here's a map that shows just how much of Chicago is zoned for SFH's in red - it's a great majority of the city. If developers are capped to building SFH's in most of the city's neighborhoods, the population density is bound to decrease when multi-family teardowns can only be replaced with SFH's. Heck, look at the stretch of residential along the Bloomingdale Trail - a great portion of it is zoned RS-3 and below - and this is a neighborhood just about ready to explode when that trail opens a little more than a month from now. I'm not advocating free construction of skyscrapers up and down Bloomingdale Avenue, but why can't a developer build a three-flat or a courtyard building in what will now become a low supply/high demand real estate market in Humboldt Park? Because of zoning, home prices will only increase faster than they would have under less stringent zoning.
Hopefully TOD can help buoy the population numbers in the long term, but it doesn't fix the limitations of the current zoning map.
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Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 1:38 PM
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Well the transit is already in place, do they need to only build around the subway lines.? They have plenty buses, thats transit as well
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  #13  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2015, 4:16 PM
Crawford Crawford is offline
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Originally Posted by thewaterman11 View Post
If developers are capped to building SFH's in most of the city's neighborhoods, the population density is bound to decrease when multi-family teardowns can only be replaced with SFH's.
But this assumes that the highest and best use is multifamily. That isn't necessarily the case.

Some parts of Chicago (and other cities) are zoned for multifamily, but the highest and best use is single family. Speaking generally, nice residential blocks in places like Lincoln Park are built with single family homes, even when the zoning allows for multifamily.

And zoning isn't really limiting multifamily growth in Chicago. Chicago's alderman system allows any developer to bypass the zoning code by just appealing to their local legislator. In theory you can build anything, anywhere the market demands.

And maximum zoning limits in Chicago are higher than even Manhattan, yet density is considerably lower in Chicago, indicating that it's really the market, not the zoning envelope, guiding things. The market basically finds a way around the zoning code.
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  #14  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2015, 8:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
But this assumes that the highest and best use is multifamily. That isn't necessarily the case.

Some parts of Chicago (and other cities) are zoned for multifamily, but the highest and best use is single family. Speaking generally, nice residential blocks in places like Lincoln Park are built with single family homes, even when the zoning allows for multifamily.

And zoning isn't really limiting multifamily growth in Chicago. Chicago's alderman system allows any developer to bypass the zoning code by just appealing to their local legislator. In theory you can build anything, anywhere the market demands.

And maximum zoning limits in Chicago are higher than even Manhattan, yet density is considerably lower in Chicago, indicating that it's really the market, not the zoning envelope, guiding things. The market basically finds a way around the zoning code.
^ I'm not sure what cornfield you just stepped out of to make this statement, but this is totally off.

Zoning is very much limiting multifamily growth in Chicago outside of downtown. Some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city such as Lincoln Park have wars over even single developments. In fact, even with the Aldermanic system in place, rich snobs will fight the city even over developments that have received city council approval. Check out what's happening with the former Children's Memorial Hospital site.

If large swaths of Lakeview and Lincoln Park were upzoned, I bet you'd see a ton of highrise development in these neighborhoods, perhaps overnight.
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