Chicago issues an RFP for $10M in equitable TOD technical assistance grants – Streetsblog Chicago

On Wednesday Chicago officials announced the launch of the first phase of the city’s $10 million Equitable Transit-Oriented Development grant program. This initiative, bankrolled by the Chicago Recovery Plan, will help encourage community-driven development near train stations and high-frequency bus corridors.

During this initial phase, community groups and other organizations are encouraged to respond to a request for proposals for city grants to pay for technical assistance for eTOD projects, which will be awarded next year. The city expects to open up multiple funding rounds for ETOD projects.

The second phase of the program, launching in December, will provide grants and technical assistance to directly support the type 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 redress and improve the ways we invest in our neighbourhoods,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement. “By putting funding support behind the Connected Communities Ordinance, we are living our values ​​by supporting developments that are accessible to all residents as well as catalytic for their communities. I look forward to seeing the communities’ proposals for more equitable and inclusive development come to reality through this funding.”

“The grants will help community stakeholders to shape their neighborhoods by improving walkability to corner stores, transit options, affordable housing, and other pedestrian-oriented amenities,” DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox stated.

The ETOD grant program is part of a new Department of Planning and Development universal application process for funding under $250,000. City officials say that projects that focus on improving heath and racial equity outcomes, and prioritize walkable, transit-friendly design, will be prioritized. Projects can include affordable housing developments, mixed-use developments with healthy food retail, community ownership business models, and more.

In October 2021, the city partnered with the Elevated Chicago think tank to pick 11 projects to receive micro grants and technical assistance. Officials say lessons learned from that 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
  • Cross 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 advocated for this commitment to ETOD since 2017, and the departments of Housing and Planning and Development have been allies in our journey,” Elevated executive director Roberto Roquejo told Streetsblog. “Our work has involved input from dozens of civic partners and community-based organizations, represented on the city’s ETOD Working Group formed in collaboration with the mayor’s office. Now, our hope is that this marks a larger, multi-agency commitment, and that these initial dollars will support projects driven by community residents in transit hubs most affected by gentrification and disinvestment.”

Drew Williams-Clark, director of equitable and sustainable communities for the Metropolitan Planning Council, told SBC, “MPC commends the city of Chicago as it demonstrates an historic commitment to investment in ETOD. The Connected Communities Ordinance was a great first step, but this kind of public investment is necessary to make sure all Chicago residents can experience the benefits of ETOD, especially in neighborhoods that have been harmed by ongoing disinvestment 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 think about how these investments can be made using an equity lens.”

To learn more about the City’s Equitable Transit Oriented Development programs, visit chicago.gov/etod. The deadline to respond to the Equitable Transit Oriented Development Implementation Plan RFP is Friday, December 9, 2022, at 12 pm Chicago time.

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