Chicago's Transit Oriented Developments Becoming More Affluent

The city of Chicago is focusing its development incentives around transit stations, but the people moving into those neighborhoods tend to be wealthier than previous residents.
May 2, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Some Logan Square residents are worried that new high-end apartments being built under a city ordinance aimed at promoting development near transit may be accelerating gentrification and pushing lower-income people farther away from the trains," according to an article by Mary Wisniewski.

According to the narrative arc of the article, Chicago is failing to live up the example in transit oriented development set by cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco. "The Chicago area, meanwhile, saw a decline in development near transit relative to growth in the larger region, the study found." Further limiting the potential of the city's new transit oriented development to be a source of social equity is the growing affluence of new transit area residents as new projects come online. "[The] average household income in transit zones increased by 27 percent from 2000 to 2010," according to Wisniewski.

The article also allows Yonah Freemark to explain how new developments in the area of transit tends to be more expensive because they are new, also arguing that displacement might have been much worse if not for the new development. Freemark is quoted directly: "Displacement occurs more often when there's no construction at all — if you don't build new housing, all the wealthy people will move into existing housing stock….That's what we saw in Wicker Park and Lincoln Park."

The city of Chicago has thrown a fair amount of policy resources at transit oriented development (TOD) in recent years. The city expanded its TOD Ordinance in September 2015, and the Metropolitan Planning Council released a new "TOD Calculator" earlier this year

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Published on Monday, May 2, 2016 in Chicago Tribune
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