RTA’s partnership with SW suburb spurs economic development, encourages public transit use

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors is recognizing the Village of Orland Park as a model for revitalizing its downtown by encouraging public transit options.

With the help of an RTA transit-oriented development (TOD) grant, Orland Park transformed its “old downtown” and an adjacent industrial district into a mixed-use area anchored by the village’s 143rd Street Metra station, which also connects with the Old Orchard Historic District, the Civic Center and the Orland Crossing shopping area. The development is a result of a $50,000 TOD planning grant that the RTA issued to the Village in 1999.

“Orland Park is a shining example of how it leveraged its resources to secure government funding and establish public-private partnerships in an effort to attract residents and encourage local development with public transit serving as the hub,” said RTA Acting Executive Director Leanne Redden, noting the project overcame several obstacles, including the economic recession, which delayed some of the work. “Transit-oriented developments are catching on across the country as more and more people want to live near public transit, relying more on trains and buses, instead of cars.”

The 295-unit Ninety7Fifty on the Park apartment complex, which opened in 2013, provides new housing for both empty nesters and young professionals who can easily access a Metra train to travel downtown for work or for fun. Meanwhile, restaurants and retail development has followed with Amano Vivere Café and a recently approved Mariano’s grocery store slated to open early next year.

“Transit-oriented development has changed the face of our downtown, breathing new life into an older area that is now spurring economic development and generating new revenue for the village,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “The transit-oriented development funding and the RTA study provided us with the blueprint that essentially created a new, thriving and sustainable community that balances the needs of our residents now and in the future. It was also critical to coordinate the parking needs for Metra and our residential and business parking to provide for a smooth flow of traffic.”

A new Metra stationed opened in 2007 and was accompanied by Crescent Park, a community park with access to bike and jogging paths near the station and the LaGrange pedestrian bridge, which was constructed in 2013.

McLaughlin recently appeared before the RTA Board to share Orland Park’s story and support of TOD funding for other communities. The RTA recently approved TOD grants to the Village of Rosemont ($250,000), the City of Geneva ($144,000) and the Village of Melrose Park ($100,000).

To date, the RTA has leveraged federal, state, local and its own dollars to fund 223 public transit-related projects totaling more than $134 million throughout the region. These projects help plan for the future and allow riders to move easily between the CTA, Metra and Pace.

For more information on the RTA Community Planning program, please visit community-planning at rtachicago.org.

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With three transit systems and more than two million riders a day, there is always something interesting going on at the RTA. Get the latest scoop on everything all in one place. For all media inquiries, please contact Susan Massel, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, at 312-913-3256 or at communications@rtachicago.org.