Goal: Promote Equitable Transit-Oriented Development - Recommendation 2: Implement Land Uses that Align with Community Vision and Priorities

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McKinley Park residents emphasized the importance of maintaining and preserving the level of housing affordability found in the neighborhood over the next few decades to prevent the displacement of existing and long-time residents. Future development within TOD areas should add to the neighborhood’s supply of affordable units and the alderman, MPDC, and city officials should encourage the maintenance and modernization of existing housing stock surrounding transit areas. In addition, any future development and potential improvements should increase pedestrian safety and encourage multi-modal transportation through traffic calming techniques, roadway improvements to reduce bus delays, and other general safety initiatives.

Preserve overall community affordable housing

Parkview Lofts Parkview Commerce architectural rendering 201902From "Apartments, Commercial Space Pegged for Parkview Developments on Pershing Road," published February 26, 2019, in the McKinley Park News.Throughout the planning process, community stakeholders made clear the importance of preserving the existing housing stock in the neighborhood, which has provided natural housing affordability for generations of families. Preserving housing affordability was identified as a top priority for the community. Preserving the affordability of existing housing, particularly in the neighborhood’s many two- to four-flat buildings, offers a great opportunity to provide housing for working families, today and into the future. The neighborhood is fortunate to already have a diverse stock of homes.

The TOD ordinance stipulates a density bonus allowing development projects an additional FAR increase from 0.25 to 3.75 if at least 50 percent of the required affordable housing units are provided on-site and an additional 0.5 to 4.0 for 100 percent. Developers could also qualify for a parking reduction of up to 100 percent, which reduces the overall cost of construction, making housing units much more affordable. Organizing in support of the connection between equity and transit-oriented development is key to shaping the future of the CTA station areas. It can also be key to attracting new housing for working residents and families. Community support is a crucial ingredient for successful affordable developments.

Preserve affordable housing by limiting the conversion of two- to four-flats into single-family homes

McKinley Park has a large number of owner-occupied two-flats that supply rental units to the neighborhood. We have heard from residents that this stock of buildings is at risk of deconversion or teardown. The neighborhood should consider preservation programs to protect them before this trend accelerates.

There are a number of preservation advocates around the city who have been working to stop the deconversion of two- to four-flats. Communities United created ROOTS (Renters Organizing Ourselves to Stay), an organization based out of Albany Park that has been working to address recent neighborhood change issues. Like McKinley Park, Albany Park saw an increase in small multifamily buildings being lost to teardowns or deconversions. ROOTS was organized in response to this rapid community change. ROOTS identifies at-risk small multifamily properties and rehabs them to preserve them as rentals. There is an opportunity to partner up with this organization in order to slow down the deconversion process in McKinley Park.

Pursue strategic partnerships to require the construction of affordable units on site

Collaborative partnerships offer the best platform for preserving the affordability of existing rental housing. Preservation poses challenges both in identifying opportunities and in funding activities to keep units affordable. During the planning process, neighborhood stakeholders and developers stressed the importance of collaboration. Mission-oriented developers cited the critical importance of local knowledge to help identify opportunity properties, and local advocates would like to connect with experienced organizations that can finance preservation efforts, which have a high degree of complexity.

Housing advocates and mission-oriented developers will help create affordable housing for the community. The ROOTS program — a joint effort of Communities United, Enterprise Community Partners, and the Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation (CMHDC) — has bought two- to four-flat buildings to rehabilitate and rent at below-market rates. ROOTS has succeeded by bringing together Communities United’s knowledge of local housing opportunities, the Enterprise Community Partners’ financing capacity, and CMHDC’s experience with financing and carrying out the rehabilitation and management of housing units while keeping them affordable.

Target active uses for ground-floor spaces that increase access to goods and services for current and future residents

(Potential sites include NE lot at Archer and Leavitt, SW lots of Archer and Leavitt, as well as the SW lot at 35th and Leavitt) Local stakeholders can also help advance the possibility of new development including workforce housing by working to identify potential sites to accommodate new development. There is a need for a neighborhood housing coalition with a broad representation of different stakeholders would have access to knowledge about suitable parcels that may become available, and can help connect mission-oriented developers with these opportunities. Sites that are good candidates for workforce housing development include larger parcels within walking distance (one half-mile) of public transit, especially sites that are currently underutilized. Vacant parcels, parcels with unoccupied buildings, and parcels with surface parking or low-density commercial uses are all examples of sites that could be better used for housing or other ETOD developments.

During the eTOD expert panel, there was a discussion about the many vacant parcels as seen in Figure 4.3 near the transit station. The panel identified the potential for redeveloping the parcels as multi-family housing. In particular, the participants identified site number seven as a good location for a four- to five-story multi-residential building. This location is currently outside of the TIF district, but there needs to be further research on TIF parameters and how much money is in the TIF fund as there is a possibility of implementing an ordinance that amends the TIF boundaries. While the panel did not conduct a detailed analysis of the redevelopment feasibility of these sites, they were selected as examples to demonstrate the type of property that may be appropriate to seek out. These sites, three of which are privately owned, do not currently host active uses but could support developments in the future.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan Vacant Parcel Information CMAP
Figure 4.3 Vacant parcel information

The most effective ground-floor spaces in TODs are attractive and flexible enough to house a variety of uses. To accommodate evolving long-term needs for space, developers could be encouraged to build flexible spaces that can be converted with ease to suit different uses. For example, developments that allow property managers to adjust the building depth or alter landscaping and elevated entranceways can create ground-floor space that meets the privacy and security needs of residential space while allowing an active street presence if the space is converted to retail. Innovations in materials, such as using engineered wood beams and columns, can reduce construction costs for building alternative ground-floor spaces and allow more flexibility in configuring space. Stakeholders can work with developers to explore options for designing flexible spaces at ground-level and incorporate the design guidelines into TOD development. Ground-floor spaces that are inviting and attractive to pedestrians have different design requirements than residential or office uses. For instance, transparent façades with large windows and tall ceilings can create open and welcoming environments. Attractiveness of space also extends to its frontage and sidewalk. Landscaping, distinct signage, and good exterior lighting are required to invite people into the space and create a sense of security. There may also be more stringent requirements for access, in order to establish visibility and easy entry. Stakeholders can incorporate ground-floor design best practices into the typologies and guidelines for TOD development to communicate the vision for active ground-floor uses.

Instead of retail, community stakeholders can collaboratively identify other desired amenities or services that may be currently lacking in the neighborhood. Possible uses can widely range from civic facilities to institutional uses, such as childcare, health clinics, arts/theater/museum spaces, hackerspaces or makerspaces, libraries, and social services, among others. During the project development stage, it will be crucial to plan for the desired use and design spaces accordingly, following design best practices or flexible space guidelines, to ensure the success of the community space.

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