On Wednesday, Chicago officials announced the launch of the first phase of the city’s $10 million transit-focused Equitable Development Grant program. This initiative, funded by the Chicago stimulus plan, will help encourage community development near stations and high-frequency bus lanes.
During this initial phase, community groups and other organizations are encouraged to respond to a request for proposals for municipal grants to pay for technical assistance for eTOD projects, which will be awarded next year. The city plans to open several rounds of funding for ETOD projects.
The second phase of the program, launched in December, will provide grants and technical assistance to directly support the kind of dense, mixed-use, walkable development enabled by the Connected Communities Ordinance the city council passed in July.
“In order to realize my administration’s vision for an equitable city, we must turn around and improve the ways we invest in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “By putting financial support behind the Connected Communities Ordinance, we are living our values by supporting developments that are accessible to all residents as well as catalysts for their communities. I look forward to seeing community proposals for more equitable and inclusive development come to fruition through this funding.
“The grants will help community actors shape their neighborhoods by improving walking to convenience stores, transit options, affordable housing and other pedestrian-friendly amenities,” said DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox.
The ETOD grant program is part of a new universal application process by the Department of Planning and Development for funding under $250,000. City officials say projects that focus on improving health and racial equity outcomes and that prioritize walkable, transit-friendly design will be prioritized. Projects can include affordable housing developments, mixed-use developments with healthy food retail businesses, community ownership business models, and more.
In October 2021, the city partnered with the think tank Elevated Chicago to select 11 projects to receive micro-grants and technical assistance. Officials say lessons learned from this pilot program will inform the new $10 million initiative.
The 2021 winners included:
- Briget’s Bodega, 125 W. 95th St., Roseland
- Coalition Food Hall, 2800 W. Madison St., East Garfield Park
- Homan-Harrison Mixed-Use Development Project, 600 S. Homan Ave., East Garfield Park
- Equity Arts Project, 1500 N. Milwaukee Ave., West Town
- Food Matters, 435 E. 43rd St., Grand Boulevard
- Gateway 79, State and 79th Streets, Chatham
- Overton Center of Excellence, 221 E. 49th St., Grand Boulevard
- Albany Park Plaza, 3300 W. Lawrence Ave., Albany Park
- Crossing the Street: Art on Clark, Rogers Park
- Emmett Street Apartments Public Art and Placemaking, 2614 N. Emmett St., Logan Square
- 35th/Archer Orange Line ETOD Vision Project, 3528 S. Leavitt St., McKinley Park
“The Elevated Chicago Coalition has been advocating for this commitment to ETOD since 2017, and the Housing and Planning and Development Departments have been allies on our journey,” Elevated Executive Director Roberto Roquejo told Streetsblog. . “Our work has involved input from dozens of civic partners and community organizations, represented on the city’s ETOD task force formed in conjunction with the mayor’s office. Now, we hope this marks a larger multi-agency commitment and that these first dollars will support community resident-led projects in transit hubs most affected by gentrification and divestment.
Drew Williams-Clark, Director of Equitable and Sustainable Communities for the Metropolitan Planning Council, told SBC, “MPC commends the City of Chicago for demonstrating a historic commitment to investing in ETOD. The Connected Communities Ordinance was an important first step, but this kind of public investment is needed to ensure that all Chicago residents can enjoy the benefits of ETOD, especially in neighborhoods that have been harmed by an ongoing divestment that can trace its lineage to racist policies and politics. To that end, we also commend the city for engaging with us, Elevated Chicago, and many others to consider how these investments can be made with equity in mind.
To learn more about the city’s fair transit development programs, visit chicago.gov/etod. The deadline for responding to the Request for Proposals for an Equitable Transit Development Implementation Plan is Friday, December 9, 2022 at 12 p.m. Chicago time.
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