Getting intentional about equitable TOD in Chicago


A green line train in Chicago. (Image: Ron Cogswell, Flickr)

Six years ago Chicago passed its first TOD ordinance and development has boomed, at least for parts of the city. For more central and northern neighborhoods, which are typically whiter, higher-income, and have strong real estate markets, development has been strong around rail stations. But for lower-income and minority parts of the city to the south, even where there are plenty of rail stations ripe for development, there has been little if any new investment.

A new update to the city’s TOD policy—adopted in January—expands the scope to include eight high-ridership bus corridors and attempts to address the geographic disparities in development. According to Kendra Freeman, the director of community engagement for the regional Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and our guest this month on Building Better Communities with Transit, the TOD that the city has seen thus far likely would have occurred without the ordinance.

Conversely, creating more equitable TOD will require intentional and concerted action from the city and local partners. “One of the big challenges that we have in the city of Chicago,” Kendra says, “is our geography and our city is very much structured along racial lines, so you can’t have these policies that are color blind.”

On the podcast, Kendra expands on her work with the MPC and Elevated Chicago to bring equitable TOD to rail and bus corridors around the region. She also talks about the original impact of the city’s TOD ordinance and how the city can support entrepreneurs with strategic investments.

Building Better Communities with Transit is intended to provide support to communities and local leaders who are working to catalyze new development around transit, give more people access to public transportation, increase access to opportunity, and build robust local economies. You can find this episode—and all of our previous episodes—on Soundcloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.