CTA, City Eye community-centric development around future Red Line Extension Stations | Chicago News

Community-driven development centered around future CTA stations.

That’s the idea behind a new “transit supportive development” plan to revitalize South Side neighborhoods that is part of the proposed Red Line extension to 130th Street, developed by the CTA and the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

The 5.6-mile extension of the Red Line is an idea a long time in the making – it was talked about as far back as the 1950s. In recent years, the CTA has worked hard to come up with concrete plans to get it done, and to drum up local and federal funding.

While the extension isn’t a done deal, transit advocates are confident the project will move forward, with $350 million for the project in President Joe Biden’s latest budget proposal.

Read more: Biden is proposing $350 million in federal grants to fund the Far South Side CTA Red Line Extension

Part of that process is thinking through not just the stations themselves, but what kind of development might happen in the half mile or so around those stations.

Among the big ideas on the list are improving the local housing stock by rehabilitating existing property and building on vacant land; create commercial, retail and mixed-use buildings; and improvement of the public space.

The overall idea is called equitable transit-oriented development. In simpler terms: “affordable homes, grocery stores, health clinics, public art and many other wants and desires driven by (the community),” said Roberto Requejo, executive director of Elevated Chicago.

Elevate Chicago helped with the plan, bringing residents together to talk about what they want to see around future stations. Requejo said being proactive is key, because development around transit has often focused on affluent or gentrifying communities.

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“Hundreds of thousands of black families have left the city of Chicago,” Requejo said. β€œLet’s stop that depopulation and that displacement and that diaspora. Let’s make sure we build homes, small businesses, community centers close to transit to keep our African American residents in Chicago.”

This type of planning has not always happened on the front. Melvin Thompson, executive director of the Endeleo Institute, was part of the community development plan. His group has been working to revitalize the area around the existing 95th Street terminal, which he hopes can be a model for future development.

“I think retail in our communities and in the four stations is going to look very different in terms of community ownership,” Thompson said. “Seeing African-American businesses surrounded by the new development near these stations creates community buy-in, and that’s sustainable.”

A graphic of proposed Red Line extension stations.  (CTA)A graphic of proposed Red Line extension stations. (CTA)

In addition to economic opportunities, community leaders are also excited about the planned Roseland Community Medical District. It is linked to the proposed 111th Street station and aimed at improving access to care and health outcomes for neighbors.

But planners said simply having good transit access with the extended train line would also improve health and well-being.

“This will really create opportunities for families to visit each other much more easily,” said Katanya Raby, vice president of planning and development at the Far South Community Development Corporation. “It will allow high school students to travel downtown for internships. I’m even thinking about the festivals and fun activities that happen throughout our summers.”

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Raby also said it’s key to filling vacant land and attracting residents to combat population loss without creating unintended consequences.

“We’re doing the work to encourage families to come back to the South Side, and also in that, making sure that (we) support policies that don’t encourage the kind of displacement that other residents across the city are experiencing,” Raby said.

The CTA had been scheduled to present the project at this week’s Chicago Plan Commission meeting, but it was postponed. A spokesperson said the agency does not yet have another date on the calendar.

As for the Red Line extension itself, Congress must approve $350 million in the proposed federal budget. The city also created a TIF district that is expected to fund up to nearly $1 billion of the project. Managers are working to secure the rest of the funding.

Read CTA’s presentation on the community development plan and see the full plan below.

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