Inclusion of bus routes greatly expands area under transit-oriented development rules

Light shaded areas are new bus corridor TOD-eligible areas, dashed boundaries are existing TOD areas because of Metra or ‘L’ stations and blue lines are the bus routes specified in the ordinance. (Map courtesy of Steven Vance)

Staff Writer

Property developers can build under special transit-oriented development (TOD) rules for practically all of Hyde Park, due to an ordinance the City Council passed on Jan. 23 that expanded those rules to areas around certain bus routes, provided properties are within certain business, commercial or manufacturing districts.

In most cases, one parking space will no longer need to be included for each housing unit in a development: the quota is now one space for every other unit or fewer, depending upon an additional application process for the specific type of property being developed. Developers can now build additional units to existing, rehabbed or new constructions.

With less space required for mandated amounts of parking, more space within developments can be built for residential uses, which often means smaller buildings with more apartments or condominiums. Zoning district boundaries often are changed when developers plan a project.

“Hyde Park is a good neighborhood to do this, especially because it’s a very walkable neighborhood,” said Steven Vance, the director of urban planning and technology at MAP Strategies, a real estate consulting business. “And I’m sure that there are some property owners of existing properties who can take advantage of this by adding more units to their existing properties, depending on space.”

TOD rules now extend a quarter mile from the #2 Hyde Park Express, #6 Jackson Park Express, #28 Stony Island and #55 Garfield Chicago Transit Authority bus routes. They already existed in quarter-mile radii around the area Metra stations and 53rd Street between Kenwood and Lake Park avenues, a designated pedestrian street.

“The practical change is that Hyde Park is now practically enveloped,” Vance said. “I think that’s a good thing, because it means that property developers, including the University of Chicago, will not have to add as much parking as they would before the ordinance.”

Both Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) voted for the ordinance; the Herald has requested comment from both of them.