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-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

ardecila Jun 29, 2013 6:10 PM

Yeah, the South Branch of the Green Line is a tough sell at present for development. The Lake Branch is definitely stronger, with a thriving anchor at the far end (Oak Park).

Beta_Magellan Jun 29, 2013 7:21 PM

I think a lot of the issues with transit are reflective of the Chicago region’s weak post-nineties growth—2000-2010 was a particularly saggy decade for Chicago, particularly relative to comparatively well-educated places like SF and Boston.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6181582)
Most of the transit-shed decline is due to the demolitions of CHA projects, which tended to sit right by transit stations. IIRC over 18000 units were removed from the market.

The upside is that this gives Chicago plenty of land with convenient transit access for development, and smart planning could make it dense. But the CHA projects themselves were very dense and so far, the powers that be are pursuing lowrise housing models with tons of wasted open space (look at the amount of open space in the site plan for Oakwood Shores, for instance).

Look at the map on page 29 of the report, which shows change in households over 2000-10 in the Chicago region. With the exception of a couple islands, the station areas between outer suburbia and the core is either bleeding population (particular on the west and south sides, plus adjacent suburban areas) or stagnant—this latter category includes many of the predominantly middle-class single-family suburbs, but also a number of dense areas on the north side along the Red and Brown lines. You’re basically seeing the effects of frozen land use there—single-family, owner-occupied suburban housing is one of the hardest things to redevelop into something other than larger single-family, owner-occupied suburban housing, and basically all the urban north side neighborhoods are pretty solidly NIMBYfied as well.

I can’t help but think that a lot of this is non-transportation/land use related, too—Chicago rents and land prices are, compared to Boston and SF, fairly cheap. There’s not as much incentive towards redeveloping a lot of neighborhoods at higher density, and one of the things people like about Chicago is that they can live in a city with lots of suburban amenities—you can live in a bungalow in Edgewater, have a yard, and be steps away from the Granville Red Line stop (or single-family housing near Roosevelt Orange). People howl over four-story buildings in Bucktown. Urbs in Horto, just forget the urbs. Although big stretches of vacant/underutilized land are problems, so is not allowing more people to live in neighborhoods where people actually want to live.

Quote:

The suburbs have only seen minor gains aroud Metra stops, and it's unclear to me whether the quality and frequency of Metra service is actually enough to attract significant housing growth.
The report picks out the example of Elmhurst as a place where there’s been an attempt at fostering transit-oriented development that hasn’t worked out as planned. They weren’t able to succeed—a lot of that probably has to do with non-policy-related stuff, like developers not seeing Elmhurst as a good candidate for higher-density housing, developers wanting to build higher-density housing being laughed out of the bank (“Seven-story condos, in Elmhurst!”), and, as the report notes, not willing to accept higher-density housing for people without high incomes. And, of course, if it’s a soft decade for growth in the Chicago metro it’s a soft decade for new construction—no one’s going to densify without demand.

UP-West service is pretty dismal—people from communities directly served by the line actually will drive to BNSF stations. However, I think transit advocates generally underestimate the effect of job sprawl. If I’m relocating to the Chicago region and pick Elmhurst, it might be because I work in Cumberland and the sig. other works in Yorktown. Or Schaumburg and Hines. Or Oak Brook and downtown. Even with improved Metra service, you’re only serving one market among several:

http://s18.postimg.org/3maozmpk5/Onthe_Map_Elmhurst.jpg
(source: distance/direction analysis for primary jobs of people living in Elmhurst via http://onthemap.ces.census.gov/).

You won’t get any argument from me that downtown is important, should be strengthened, and transit links to it be improved, but better transit will, at this point, only make transit more dominant in a niche (even if it’s the largest one). It won’t transform the orientation of suburbs and suburban commuters.

emathias Jun 30, 2013 12:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6181950)
...
But along the 63rd branch of the Green Line....just be happy that we are seeing something other than vacant fields..

Well, with U of C encroaching from the north, the east branch along 63rd could actually benefit from increased service and additional development. It'd be worth pushing it back to Jackson Park again, and I think that preacher who opposed it before will have seen the error of his ways and not block it this time. If you did that, connected the Dearborn and State subways, and ran, say, 4 trains an hour between O'Hare and East 63rd, you'd probably see a lot of growth right around there just because 7 trains to the Loop each hour would definitely beat the discouraging three an hour that it sometimes has.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 6182047)
I think a lot of the issues with transit are reflective of the Chicago region’s weak post-nineties growth—2000-2010 was a particularly saggy decade for Chicago, particularly relative to comparatively well-educated places like SF and Boston.

Chicago's education level increased dramatically during the last decade, though, so that's hopefully a good trend.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 6182047)
You won’t get any argument from me that downtown is important, should be strengthened, and transit links to it be improved, but better transit will, at this point, only make transit more dominant in a niche (even if it’s the largest one). It won’t transform the orientation of suburbs and suburban commuters.

I was thinking about this today, and decided the way to get Chicagoland to work together on planning was to simply convince all the downstate people that not doing so would gravely injure Chicago and thus their biggest source of tax revenue. In other words, that they need to force Chicago to stay within a certain boundary or it'll become Detroit.

Chicagoland would benefit from a stronger, more effective version of Portland's development limits, and it would greatly benefit from forced TOD requirements to make use of existing investments. But it won't do that by itself, so maybe downstate could actually serve a useful purpose toward that goal.

the urban politician Jun 30, 2013 12:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6182225)
Well, with U of C encroaching from the north, the east branch along 63rd could actually benefit from increased service and additional development. It'd be worth pushing it back to Jackson Park again, and I think that preacher who opposed it before will have seen the error of his ways and not block it this time. If you did that, connected the Dearborn and State subways, and ran, say, 4 trains an hour between O'Hare and East 63rd, you'd probably see a lot of growth right around there just because 7 trains to the Loop each hour would definitely beat the discouraging three an hour that it sometimes has.

^ I've heard all this stuff before and have become weary of it all.

There is no policy change that is going to promote development around the south side branch of the Green Line. If there was any demand to live in those areas there wouldn't be vacant fields. Increasing service frequency and upzoning won't do diddly shit.

Reality is, (especially white and professional) Chicagoans are allergic to the south side. It's a built in, hard-wired reality about the city, and it goes back several decades. It won't change in our lifetimes. Perhaps Chicago is a "sleeping giant" like New York was in the 1970's and suddenly people will start clamoring to live in every nook and cranny of the city, but nothing that I'm seeing is pointing to such a trend.

The best thing we can hope for is more development in the South Loop and Hyde Park, as well as increased gentrification in Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, etc etc where there aren't bombed out fields of gunfire, dismay, and misery.

dennis1 Jun 30, 2013 2:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6181582)

The suburbs have only seen minor gains aroud Metra stops, and it's unclear to me whether the quality and frequency of Metra service is actually enough to attract significant housing growth.

It's not, because of the inconsistent service from Metra. They need to improve significantly in order for these nodes to reach these housing projections.

emathias Jul 1, 2013 1:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6182405)
^ I've heard all this stuff before and have become weary of it all.

There is no policy change that is going to promote development around the south side branch of the Green Line. If there was any demand to live in those areas there wouldn't be vacant fields. Increasing service frequency and upzoning won't do diddly shit.

Reality is, (especially white and professional) Chicagoans are allergic to the south side. It's a built in, hard-wired reality about the city, and it goes back several decades. It won't change in our lifetimes. Perhaps Chicago is a "sleeping giant" like New York was in the 1970's and suddenly people will start clamoring to live in every nook and cranny of the city, but nothing that I'm seeing is pointing to such a trend.

The best thing we can hope for is more development in the South Loop and Hyde Park, as well as increased gentrification in Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, etc etc where there aren't bombed out fields of gunfire, dismay, and misery.

Hey old man: your reality isn't universal, especially when you constrain yourself to white people.

The facts on the ground are that, even with terrible service at 63rd and Cottage Grove, there is a measurable influx of educated academics and, to a certain extent, professionals choosing to live between 63rd and 59th Street, which is essentially a southern expansion of Hyde Park as a marketing name even if it technically is Woodlawn or some such place. With better service levels those numbers would grow faster.

There are also academics and some lower-key professionals (think nurse-type professionals) living between 25th and 40th, which will likely only grow as the South Loop gets filled in. This is more true of non-white professionals, but the level and source of income is what defines gentrification and we certainly do not need to tailor policy only for when white people deign to follow it.

For the record, I'm not a starry-eyed optimist, and I'm not one who thinks that people on the South Side help themselves by crying about racism or classism and lack of investment, but I do think that creating policy that assumes that the current generations will forever perpetuate the prejudices of their parents would be a fatal mistake.

LouisVanDerWright Jul 1, 2013 2:23 PM

Yeah, I don't think it is at all unrealistic that we will see major growth on the far South Side in the next 20-30 years. Places like Woodlawn and South Shore are just far too awesome not to eventually redevelop.


In other news: I used Divvy last night for the first time and it was awesome. I am seriously impressed with the system and it's only like 20% rolled out. I took it from Roosevelt and Wabash to Adams and Jefferson since I had parked my car in Skybridge earlier in the day and had been getting rides all over town from a friend all day and was abandoned in the South Loop. So I am walking towards Roosevelt to get a cab and I see the Chicago Blue of the Divvy station from down the block.

So I think to myself "I bet there is a Divvy station right by where I'm going" and I quickly downloaded the App and checked it out. Well I figured there would be one on Halsted, but there isn't yet (though there will be before the end of summer and it will be right next to Skybridge, so my experience would have been even better once the system is fully deployed). The nearest one was just across the highway so I went there.

Learning to use the system was a bit cumbersome because I had to click through all kinds of disclaimers and figure out how to undock the bike, but I think a lot of this was because I was just using it for the first time and had to consent to everything. I am seriously considering buying the $75 yearly pass now so I can just go up to a station and grab a bike and be on my way. The station gives you a code that you key in at the bike of your choosing if you buy a 12 or 24 hour pass and gives you a new one every time you swipe your card at a new station during that period. I believe the 12 hour pass is only $3.50 so I spent exactly $3.50 on what would have been a $10-15 cab ride.

Also, it is worth noting the intangible benefits of using Divvy. I absolutely love biking downtown and loathe using cabs. I hate having to give directions to some guy having a conversation with lord knows who on a bluetooth headset and hate having to check if I have cash so I can avoid the "are you really going to pay with a credit card" scowl cabbies give you. I ended my trip relaxed and exhilarated, rather than stressed and feeling dirty from sitting in a slimy cab seat.

The best part was the reaction everyone on the street was giving me. I got cheered by random people on two separate occasions during the ride and was asked questions by people at every red light. I had several people ask me how much the bikes cost to ride, how they ride, and even had a cabbie pull up and start probing about the cost of the bikes and lamenting that he thinks it will cost him business. Everyone was checking me and the bike out and it garnered a lot of curious stares.

I have to say the bikes are great. They ride well, have comfortable seats (adjustable too!), have 3 gears that shift like a dream and provide just enough "oomph" to haul ass or leisurely coast along, large flashing LED's that are powered by your pedaling, racks with straps, and completely enclosed chains to prevent your pants from being snagged. Plus, they are painted a catchy "Chicago Blue" that stands out from blocks away and makes finding the stations easy. My only concern is how they will hold up with long run maintenance issues. They seemed incredibly solidly built and I have high hopes that they will hold up in the long run.

I only had a few "complaints" about the system and I think most of them will be resolved simply by getting used to the system. The one challenge I had was figuring out how to "undock" the bike which took a minute to do. You kind of have to give the bike a good hard yank to get it to release which is something I could see some women and older folks having a harder time with. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the amount of waivers and liability read-me's I had to agree to before getting my pass was ridiculous. Hopefully some of them go away next time I get a pass since I've already agreed to most of them. Also, I don't what to do with the whole helmet situation. I don't like riding without a helmet (though I am known to do so on an occasion) and feel like Divvy encourages you not to use a helmet because no one is going to lug around a bulky helmet all the time just in case they need to grab a Divvy bike. Not sure if there is anything that can be done about that though.

The last complaint was that there aren't enough stations yet. This will change extremely quickly as there are only about 70 stations running right now and will be over 300 up and running by the end of July. They already feel like they are all over the place right now and I can't fathom how "saturated" with Divvy station downtown will feel once all 400 of them are installed. Also, there is no long run plan for a Divvy station by my house (Diversey and Milwaukee) and I will have to walk all the way to Logan Sqaure to get a Divvy Bike. This greatly hampers my plan which was to use Divvy as a convenient way to get from the Northwest to the North side and back. I would love to be able to take Divvy to the beach or when I'm going out on a weekend. That way I wouldn't have to worry about where my bike is, whether it is safe, how I'm going to get it home if I get drunk and take the red line back to a friends house in Edgewater and stay there. I could just grab a Divvy in Edgewater and take it back to the NW side with me the next day.


All in all I'm extremely impressed and can't wait to use the system some more. The best part was a strange sense of civic pride and excitement I had using the bikes. It feels like there is a lot of anticipation around Divvy in Chicago and everyone was watching me using the bike with great interest. I think this is going to be huge and really take off in Chicago especially once the full system rolls out.

PS: The bikes also have a bell which is great to have so I can catch the attention of unwary pedestrians or some cabbie who is merging without looking. It is loud enough that even motorists will hear it unless they are blasting music.

urbanpln Jul 1, 2013 2:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6183119)
Hey old man: your reality isn't universal, especially when you constrain yourself to white people.

The facts on the ground are that, even with terrible service at 63rd and Cottage Grove, there is a measurable influx of educated academics and, to a certain extent, professionals choosing to live between 63rd and 59th Street, which is essentially a southern expansion of Hyde Park as a marketing name even if it technically is Woodlawn or some such place. With better service levels those numbers would grow faster.

There are also academics and some lower-key professionals (think nurse-type professionals) living between 25th and 40th, which will likely only grow as the South Loop gets filled in. This is more true of non-white professionals, but the level and source of income is what defines gentrification and we certainly do not need to tailor policy only for when white people deign to follow it.

For the record, I'm not a starry-eyed optimist, and I'm not one who thinks that people on the South Side help themselves by crying about racism or classism and lack of investment, but I do think that creating policy that assumes that the current generations will forever perpetuate the prejudices of their parents would be a fatal mistake.

That's not what we are seeing. I'm sorry but, I don't share your optimism. I tend to agree with UP on this issue. I work in those nabs as an urban planner. CMAP completed a housing demand analysis last summer that shows anemic demand in Woodlawn and the surrounding nabs over the next 30 years and the demand that is there is for low income residents. There will be a small increase in professionals, mostly from the U of C but it's not going to be an all out boom.

I do agree with you that Hyde Park will see some growth and perhaps Kenwood and Oakland over the next 2 decades but it's not going to be strong growth. Why? (1) The politics in many of these (Bronzeville) nabs will scare off the typical fickle north side buyer. There are many organization and people that are trying to keep these areas one race. This is not wrong, it's just a narrow focus. (2) Crime continues to be an issue. The gangs are still deep into many of these nabs. Some of them have vowed to make it uncomfortable for any affluent newcomers. This is changing slowly. Once again it's not going away over the next 10 to 15 years. (3) There is a ton of undeveloped land in the near south area. Micheal Reese and Lake Meadows are also a better sites to develop because they are seen as safer(closer to the lake and LSD, self contained). (4) Strong job growth is needed. Without this significant growth in the center and immediate area, there will not be strong demand for housing.

I could add more pressing issues but, I think these 3 have to be dealt with. I don't think these areas are dead but, they need extra attention in order to thrive.

jpIllInoIs Jul 1, 2013 3:50 PM

Extending the Green Line to Midway has always been on my wish list. Also rebuilding the eastern leg to the Metra Electric stop at Woodlawn.

the urban politician Jul 1, 2013 4:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by urbanpln (Post 6183169)
There are many organization and people that are trying to keep these areas one race. This is not wrong, it's just a narrow focus.

^ Uhhh... yes, it is wrong. But otherwise agree with the rest of your post

Busy Bee Jul 1, 2013 5:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6183244)
^ Uhhh... yes, it is wrong. But otherwise agree with the rest of your post

For sure. Can you imagine the outrage and negative reception a Polish hood would cause if they vocally and actively pursued the exclusion of other races and cultures from "their" neighborhood? I'm pretty liberal and I refuse to accept this exclusionary attitude as being OK for AA's but wrong for everyone else. Bullshit double standard if I've ever seen one and should be called out at every turn, not kowtowed to by politicians that don't want to step on toes. The economic vitality of the city is more important than bigoted protectionism. If we really want to be "post race", this should be the first to go.

tjp Jul 1, 2013 5:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6182405)
^

Reality is, (especially white and professional) Chicagoans are allergic to the south side.

The reality is that most people aren't white and professional, and real gains could be gained in retaining and attracting the black working and middle class--that's why we shouldn't give up on improving services on the South Side.

urbanpln Jul 1, 2013 5:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tjp (Post 6183282)
The reality is that most people aren't white and professional, and real gains could be gained in retaining and attracting the black working and middle class--that's why we shouldn't give up on improving services on the South Side.

True but, highly unlikely to happen. Why? Blacks continue to move out of the region and to the suburbs and, as long as Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville and other warm weather "get more for your money" places continue to grow, we will lose population over time.

Cities grow by attracting new people. That's why immigrants are so important. While blacks continue to leave, Latino's and Asians grew in the city and region. Currently, they are the future because they are moving here. Although most moved to the suburbs, some of their kids will be attracted to the city. That's our best bet now in the near future. Hopefully, African Americans will find Chicago attractive again in the near future but currently it's not appealing for those who are from outside of the region.

urbanpln Jul 1, 2013 5:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6183244)
^ Uhhh... yes, it is wrong. But otherwise agree with the rest of your post

I mean it's not wrong to try and build a black middle class nab that will be a hot bed of culture for the city.

the urban politician Jul 1, 2013 5:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by urbanpln (Post 6183303)
True but, highly unlikely to happen. Why? Blacks continue to move out of the region and to the suburbs and, as long as Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville and other warm weather "get more for your money" places continue to grow, we will lose population over time.

Cities grow by attracting new people. That's why immigrants are so important. While blacks continue to leave, Latino's and Asians grew in the city and region. Currently, they are the future because they are moving here. Although most moved to the suburbs, some of their kids will be attracted to the city. That's our best bet now in the near future. Hopefully, African Americans will find Chicago attractive again in the near future but currently it's not appealing for those who are from outside of the region.

^ I totally agree, but political leaders keeping a stranglehold on their communities (keep um black!) are what is so detrimental, and as we have witnessed, Chicago leaders have no reservations about gerrymandering the place to death.

Regardless, yes, I do believe that the existence of the Green Line in these areas will be to its benefit in the future, but the lack of good housing (it's all GONE!) is the real barrier. Immigrants don't build new homes, they move into existing ones. White folks and the children of immigrants, as well as middle class black folks build homes. And so far, none of them are attracted to the south side except a few select areas. So for now, the Green Line will keep running over grassy fields

LouisVanDerWright Jul 1, 2013 6:01 PM

So I take it no one wants to talk about Divvy and everyone would rather bicker over racism in the thread that is supposed to be about Transit?

ardecila Jul 1, 2013 7:07 PM

I haven't gotten a chance to use Divvy yet. I have used Velib' in Paris and Capital Bikeshare in DC; both were great additions to their respective cities, although DC's bike-lane system is extremely patchwork so as an outsider it's tough to tell where the good routes for cycling are.

Chicago has a much more comprehensive, connective system of bike lanes than DC, so Divvy should be pretty great for visitors. On the other hand, DC has a lot more neighborhood public spaces, squares and plazas and such, so the stations are easy to find and you can see them from a distance, no maps required. There are also usually bikeshare stations near Metro stations, and many areas of DC already have neighborhood signage that guides people to Metro stations. Chicago doesn't have that kind of wayfinding, and the stations are really densely packed in the Loop, so this is another weakness.

------------

Another plus for Divvy is the graphic design. The choice of typeface, the design of maps, and the choices of color (black, white, Chicago blue) are bold and modern if a little rough around the edges. The Divvy logo with the two chevrons is also very close to the new Ventra logo. I can imagine a future 10-15 years from now where the Chicago blue color and the double chevron logo is a consistent brand for transportation in Chicago like the T in Boston, the roundel in London, or the red buses in LA. It's a good strategy because it's inspired by the Chicago flag but not a literal interpretation (no red six-pointed stars anywhere).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...go_svg.svg.png

http://www.thetransitwire.com/wp-con...ventraLogo.jpg

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...header_j14.jpg

the urban politician Jul 1, 2013 8:24 PM

^ Maybe Chicago can require all of their taxicabs to be blue as well, kind of like NYC with their yellowcabs? ;)

ardecila Jul 1, 2013 8:38 PM

Maybe. It's worth considering. All this stuff just makes it easier and less confusing for visitors, and less scary for Chicago residents, to move around without using their car. It even makes transit kinda stylish. Paris is really good at this - all of RATP's buses and trains are teal, and they keep obnoxious and distracting ads to a minimum.

Busy Bee Jul 1, 2013 8:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 6183505)
^ Maybe Chicago can require all of their taxicabs to be blue as well, kind of like NYC with their yellowcabs? ;)

DC has recently mandated a uniform taxi scheme, red I believe. As far as Chicago taxis, I actually really like the very diverse variety of cab co's and associated colors, it makes things more interesting. As far a the Cta goes, if anything and I've lamented this before, i wish they'd get away from their bicentennial derived red, white and blue and back to their green roots, preferably the two tone green scheme from the 80's.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7013/6...9254d697be.jpg
What's not to love?


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