Elevated Chicago, the Chicago coalition for the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC)

An initiative to invest in equity, health, and opportunity around Chicago transit stops

View the 2018 EcoDistrict Feasibility Study for Elevated Chicago, created to evaluate existing conditions and potential for implementing sustainable resource management strategies, community ownership, and preservation of affordability surrounding four Elevated Chicago “eHubs” 

CNT is proud to serve as a member organization of Elevated Chicago, a partnership committed to transforming the half-mile radius around transit stations into hubs of opportunity and connection across our region’s vast transit system. Working together with nonprofits, neighborhood organizations, and charitable foundations, Elevated Chicago is building towards a vision of Chicago that is resilient, sustainable, and livable for people from all walks of life. Elevated Chicago is part of the national Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), a partnership among Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The SPARCC Executive Team leads a broader team comprised of staff from each of the partner organizations that leverages expertise in data, capital, communications, policy, knowledge sharing, and systems change to support local site work and advance SPARCC’s broader goals.

Elevated Chicago aims to create areas of community-centered art, culture, and commerce in the half mile radius around transit stations across the City of Chicago. To achieve this goal, CNT is working with partner organizations to remove barriers that hinder innovation, equip residents with resources to make station areas a civic priority, and align, cultivate, and deploy capital for development near the stations.

CNT is one of the five original members of the Chicago collaborative that grew into Elevated Chicago, formed by Chicago SPARCC lead The Chicago Community Trust. From the beginning, equity has been the vision and the value that holds together the organizations of Elevated Chicago. The collaborative has grown from a handful of members to seventeen, with the uniting value of equity central to its mission. CNT is a member of the Steering Committee, and Jacky Grimshaw co-chairs the Systems Change Working Group, focusing on policy changes needed to advance equitable development. Scott Bernstein provides guidance to all SPARCC cities as a member of the SPARCC National Advisory Committee.

As part of the effort, CNT has worked collaboratively with neighborhood organizations to install community murals, trees, and stormwater management infrastructure at four CTA stations across Chicago, and helped coordinate SPARCC’s Rapid Climate Vulnerability Assessment (RVCA) for Elevated Chicago stakeholders to help them identify connections between climate change, health, and equity vulnerabilities, and identify ways to increase resilience to climate change. CNT also has performed EcoDistrict feasibility scans for the areas surrounding the Elevated "eHubs," four areas that encompass the seven target CTA station areas.Through these efforts, CNT aims to address environmental inequities and empower residents to find creative solutions to local vulnerabilities within the city of Chicago.

When homes, offices, retail, and other amenities are located within a half mile from a high-frequency transit stop, people can spend less time and money in transit. CNT takes this a step further: we believe that equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) can multiply TOD’s benefits by boosting household budgets, neighborhood economies, and environmental wellbeing. We created the eTOD Social Impact Calculator to capture those benefits. Now, we continue this work as part of Elevated Chicago, bringing together communities, residents, and organizations. Together, we aim to put the principle of equitable transit-oriented development into practice.

“More and more policy makers and business leaders are realizing that racial equity has to be at the core of how we build cities and communities.”

Roberto Requejo
Program Director, Elevated Chicago

Research + Further Reading

Estimating Parking Utilization in Multi-Family Residential Buildings in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Rogers, Dan Emerine, Peter Haas, David Jackson, Peter Kauffmann, Rick Rybeck, Ryan Westrom
January 27, 2016

The District Department of Transportation and the District of Columbia Office of Planning recently led a research effort to understand how parking utilization in multi-family residential buildings is related to neighborhood and building characteristics. Prior research has shown that overbuilding of residential parking leads to increased automobile ownership, vehicle miles traveled, and congestion. Parking availability can affect travel mode choices and decrease the use of transportation alternatives. In addition, zoning regulations requiring parking supplies that exceed demand can increase housing costs and inhibit the development of mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. The primary research goal is to develop an empirical model for parking utilization in Washington, D.C. and to apply the model to an interactive, web-based tool, named ParkRight DC, to support and guide parking supply decisions. A transparent, data driven process for parking supply decisions may help relieve problems associated with over- or under-supply of parking.

This paper outlines the data collection, model development process, functionality of the resulting tool, and findings on key relationships and policy implications. The model and associated tool relies on local information reflecting residential development and auto ownership patterns drawn from a survey of multi-family residential parking use at 115 buildings covering approximately 20,000 dwelling units in the District.  The resulting model achieved an R-square of 0.835, which is a very strong model given the complexity of the relationship being researched.


Income, Location Efficiency, and VMT: Affordable Housing as a Climate Strategy

Gregory L. Newmark Ph.D and Peter M. Haas Ph.D
December 16, 2015

This paper combines detailed travel-survey, transit-service, and land-use data to estimate a model for predicting the role of income and location efficiency in reducing household vehicle-miles traveled (VMT). The research then applies this model to census data collected in the most transit-rich areas of California. The research finds strong justification for California’s current support of location-efficient affordable housing as a strategy to reduce VMT and mitigate climate change.

This working paper was first posted in July 2015. The California Strategic Growth Council commissioned an academic review of the paper in order to consider its use in funding formulas for the allocation of cap and trade funds for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. The working paper was revised in response to review comments and reposted on December 16, 2015.


Lakeview Transit-Oriented Development: Housing + Transportation Trends

CNT + Lakeview Chamber of Commerce
April 28, 2015

We collaborated with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce on a report supporting greater transit-oriented development (TOD) activity in the Lakeview neighborhood. The paper found the number of households in the neighborhood on the decline, despite millions of dollars in development activity in the 2000s – perhaps because zoning makes TOD practically impossible in most areas. The report also found that while new TOD development has been proposed in the neighborhood, the lack of parking has been a contentious issue even though the rate of car ownership has fallen 6 percent and nearly one-third of Lakeview households own no car at all. We will continue to work with organizations like the Lakeview Chamber to accelerate TOD throughout the Chicago region.


Quality of Life, (e)Quality of Place

by CNT and Open Communities
January 15, 2015

Rail transit anchors downtowns and neighborhoods in communities throughout Chicago’s northern suburbs and across the region, but many of these communities are falling behind in creating mixed-income transit-oriented development. This guidebook offers case studies, policy recommendations, and public participation tools to help suburbs build affordable, accessible housing around transit.


Transit Deserts in Cook County

by CNT
July 10, 2014

The Chicago region's hub-and-spoke transit system leaves many people stranded in the gaps. About 10% of Cook County's residents live in transit deserts, leaving them with restricted mobility and limited access to all of the region's jobs and amenities.


Charter for the New Urbanism

Chapter by Jacky Grimshaw
May 31, 2013

This pioneering guide, the first edition of which was released in 1999, illustrates how the Congress for the New Urbanism works to change the practices and standards of urban design and development to support healthy regions and diverse, complete neighborhoods. CNT Vice President Jacky Grimshaw contributed a chapter on developing in a way that preserves environmental resources, economic investment, and social fabric.


Economic Effects of Public Investment in Transportation and Directions for the Future

May 31, 2012

This report, written by CNT for the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI), examines current economic analysis practices in state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) through examples in nine state transportation agencies and an extensive literature review. For additional understanding of the methods in practice, we also incorporated information obtained at selected metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). The increased interest and demand for better economic results from transportation encouraged SSTI to look for ways to help states improve their ability to predict and measure the economic impacts of transportation policies and investments. Accompanying the report itself is a web-based scorecard, which shows users the most appropriate economic data and tools to measure different types of economic impact.  Additional information here.