A South Side mobility hub, TOD plans and more: Weigh in on selected Community Planning projects
January 18, 2023
Six new projects have been chosen for the RTA’s 2023 Community Planning program. The projects are available for public comment through February 3 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out the online form. Projects include a South Side mobility hub being developed by Equiticity, transit-oriented development (TOD) plans for Joliet and Riverdale, special financing district studies for University Park and Geneva, and a developer dialogue in Des Plaines. The final 2023 Community Planning program of projects will be announced February 16 at the RTA Board of Directors meeting.
Projects were submitted during a solicitation from September 26 through October 14, 2022, during a joint Call for Projects with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). The applications were vetted by a project selection team composed of staff from the RTA, which interviewed applicants and obtained feedback from the CTA, Metra, Pace, and other partners and technical assistance providers.
Since 1998, the RTA’s Community Planning program has provided funding and technical assistance for transit-oriented planning and implementation initiatives with local partners throughout the six-county service area. The goal is to foster the growth of sustainable, equitable, walkable, and transit-friendly communities around transit assets by encouraging transit-supportive land uses and infrastructure. The program aids local economic development by increasing equitable access to employment centers and amenities to serve the constantly evolving needs of our diverse population.
The projects selected align with the RTA’s Transit is the Answer strategic plan which aims to prioritize equity.
The City requested a Developer Dialogue be convened to assist its efforts with attracting TOD at the intersection of Lee and Oakton Streets, as identified in the 2019 Des Plaines Comprehensive Plan. The goal of the developer discussion is to provide direct insight to local public officials and landowners on the current market for development within the study area and ways in which the City can attract reinvestment adjacent to the Pace Pulse Dempster Line stations.
Equiticity, an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), requested assistance to advance development of a community mobility center in Bronzeville near the 51st Street Green Line station. The RTA will assist with identifying community perceptions of existing public transit; understanding transportation’s impact on environment and personal wellbeing; gauging the receptivity to climate-friendly mobility modes, gauging the demand for shared bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-vehicles; and obtaining feedback on design and implementation of the hub and its services.
The City requested assistance with establishing a special financing district to implement recommendations contained in the Downtown Station-Area Master Plan. An existing Special Service Area (SSA) is in place but set to expire in 2023. The RTA will assist the City to determine whether to extend and expand the scope of the SSA and/or create a different funding source. In either case, the funds generated from the district would be used to finance streetscape enhancement projects and implement other Plan recommendations.
The City requested assistance to develop a TOD plan for areas of downtown adjacent to the Joliet Gateway Center, a hub for Amtrak, Metra, and Pace services. The goals of the TOD plan are to create housing opportunities adjacent to public transportation that are not currently available in the downtown; increase ridership on existing public transportation routes; spur new investment in the adjacent neighborhood, including underutilized commercial buildings on Washington Street; utilize existing city-owned parking lots for shared parking opportunities; transition publicly owned land into the private sector to generate property tax revenues; and increase and stabilize property values in the immediate area.
The Village requested RTA assistance to complete a Mobility Improvement and TOD Action Plan in transit served areas of the Village. The study area includes the 138th Street corridor, Riverdale and Ivanhoe Metra Station areas, S. Halsted Street, and S. Indiana Ave. The planning efforts will also incorporate special considerations for current ADA specific infrastructure needs and outline funding opportunities the Village can pursue. The goals for this study include creating specific steps to improve access to all modes of transit within the Village, enhancing safety for residents of all abilities, identifying transit-oriented development opportunities, and creating a guide to secure implementation funding for the Village.
The Village of University Park requested assistance with identifying a financial strategy to implement the recommendations contained in their newly completed TOD Plan. The RTA will assist the Village with analyzing the plan recommendations, reviewing funding and financing options to spur investment, and recommending a financial strategy that will position the Village for future development at the University Park Metra station.
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