The Fourth Annual RTA Planning Workshop: Connected Communities

By Brian Hacker, AICP

We are happy to announce that the RTA will be hosting our fourth annual Planning Workshop in partnership with DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute on Wednesday, March 7 at the DePaul Center in downtown Chicago. This event brings together planning and development professionals involved with transit-oriented development (TOD) for presentations and discussions on current trends and best practices.

This year’s theme, Connected Communities, focuses on TOD housing and the recent growth in residential development near transit stations in our region. Speakers include members of the public, private and non-profit sectors who will present on a variety of topics related to the benefits, challenges and opportunities of planning and developing housing around the regional transit system.

Our theme this year reflects the growing demand in our region for housing in walkable communities with high-quality transit service that provide convenient access to employment, retail and services, restaurants and entertainment. Mixed-use, multi-family developments in transit-served neighborhoods are literally and figuratively “on the rise” in both the city and suburbs, making the term “TOD,” which was once only commonly known among planners, a real estate trend. With many communities working for years to encourage economic development around their transit assets, these new developments are helping them realize their visions for active, walkable communities that will attract new residents. The knowledgeable speakers on the agenda will address a variety of topics related to the growth of TOD as a market trend through their own experiences and consider its future direction.

The RTA’s Community Planning program, which has provided funding and planning assistance for transit-oriented planning and implementation projects for, has led to partnerships with over 100 municipalities, six county governments, and four councils of mayors within the RTA service area. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the program! The Planning Workshop is an opportunity to share success stories, best practices and lessons learned from our planning efforts with our partners from around the region, as well as other planning and development professionals.

The Workshop features two informational sessions and a panel discussion. Each session includes two presentations and a question and answer section. For more details, please see the agenda below. We hope you can join us for this half-day of engaging presentations and discussion on TOD planning in our region.

8:30-8:45 Check-in and breakfast
8:45-9:00 Welcome Remarks from the RTA and Chaddick Institute
  Lorri Newson, RTA
  Joe Schwieterman, Chaddick Institute
9:00-9:10 RTA Planning and Implementation Assistance
  Michael Horsting, AICP, RTA
9:10-10:05 Presentation Session I
  Infill TOD Housing in a Historic Downtown – Eileen Franz, City of Elmhurst
  Woodlawn Park: Mixed-Income, Mixed-Use TOD – Bill Eager, POAH
  Question & Answer
10:00-11:00 Presentation Session II
  TOD Zoning for Economic Development – Emily Egan, AICP, Village of Brookfield
  Right-Sizing TOD Parking Requirements – Meagan Jones, City of Evanston
  Question & Answer
11:00-12:00 Panel Discussion
  TOD Goes Mainstream: Changing Perceptions and Development Patterns
  Ghian Foreman, Greater Southwest Development Corporation
  Daniel Kay Hertz, Freelance Writer
  Lynnette McRae, Metropolitan Planning Council
  Ben Vyverberg, Village of Palatine

There’s a few spots remaining, registration is free and available online at

Brian joined the Regional Transportation Authority as Senior Planner in 2016. He is actively involved in transit-oriented development planning and implementation efforts throughout the RTA’s six-county service area, overseeing the Access to Transit program and managing projects for the Community Planning program. In his work, Brian is inspired by the equitable nature of public transit and believes that better access to transit is vital to improving personal mobility and quality-of-life for residents of our region. Prior to joining the RTA, he served as a planner in Metra’s Long Range Planning Department for over three years. Brian received a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from the University of Michigan.

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