The Arlington Heights Metra station, platform and tracks were relocated to improve access to the train station and improve circulation within downtown. The station relocation was part of a larger downtown redevelopment effort focused on promoting housing, retail and transit-oriented projects within the downtown area.
Project Type:Station Project Mode:Commuter Rail Average Weekday Riders:2,317 Length (mi):0.00
Economic Distress:1.01 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):4295 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.20
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.24 Market Size:2,475,700 Airport Travel Distance:8 Topography:2
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:IL County:Cook & Lake
City:Village of Arlington Heights Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Village of Arlington Heights
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Transit GIS Lat/Long:42.084150 / -87.983614
Initial Study Date:1997 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:1998 Constr. End Date:2000
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2000 Planned Cost (YOE $):4,089,901
Actual Cost (YOE $):4,474,000 Actual Cost (curr $):6,052,553
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||23.58||16.97||40.55|
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The Metra station, platform and tracks were relocated in 2000 to improve access to the train station and improve circulation within downtown. To create an attractive and pedestrian friendly station, the Village sited parks and installed public art next to the rail platform. Brick paving, decorative lighting and benches similar to those used in downtown were added to unify the area. Parking-related components include improvements to adjacent surface lots and taxi and bus pick up areas, as well as a new kiss-and-ride lot. The Metra station relocation and enhancements cost $4,474,000 ($2000.)
The station relocation was part of a larger downtown redevelopment effort focused on promoting housing, retail and transit-oriented projects within the downtown area (see section 4.1.2 below). This effort was funded through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Easy access to transit was critical in promoting the redevelopment of downtown, and the train station relocation project upgraded and improved transit access. The relocation of the Metra Station was instrumental in the creation of four transit-oriented developments. A total of 349 jobs and investment of $79.97 ($2000) million at these developments can be attributed to the station. In addition, the relocated station included expanded retail space, which supported an estimated 12 jobs in 2005, although the space is currently vacant due to the 2008-2010 recession.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Arlington Heights Metra station is located in the Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago in Cook and Lake Counties. Direct access to I- 90 (Northwest Tollway) is provided by a full interchange at Arlington Heights Road. State Route 53 provides links to I-90, I-290, I-355, and I-55. Route 53 offers six interchanges in Arlington Heights. I- 294 (the Tri-State Tollway) is located 8 miles southeast of Arlington Heights via I- 90. The Village is 8 miles from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport along I- 90 (the Northwest Tollway) and 36 miles from Chicago's Midway Airport via I- 55. Private aircraft service is also available from Chicago Executive Airport located 7 miles east of the Village.
The Arlington Heights station is one of two Metra commuter railroad stations in the Village. Both stations are along Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest line, which provides daily rail service between Harvard, IL and Chicago. The Arlington Heights Metra station is located at 45 West Northwest Highway (US 14), between Vail and Dunton Avenues, and lies 22.4?miles from the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago (a thirty-three minute train ride) and 40 miles from Harvard, the terminus of the Northwest Line. Additionally, the proposed 55-mile Suburban Transit Access Route (Star Line) transit system, which would connect nearly 100 communities and enhance Metra's existing hub-and-spoke by linking the spokes, will have a future station in Arlington Heights.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The Village of Arlington Heights was incorporated in 1887. Most of the early population (more than 1,000 residents) was farm families; however, Arlington Heights also became known as the earliest commuter suburb, as many residents worked in Chicago. Serviced originally by the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad (which would become the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company), trains operated between Arlington Heights and Chicago daily. The population of Arlington Heights grew steadily. With the spread of automobiles and the expansion of the Chicago-area economy, the Village population boomed in the 1950s and 1960s, growing from 8,727 in 1950 to 64,884 in 1970.
Growth slowed in the 1970s and by the end of the 1970s, the downtown was in a steep decline, due in part to the opening of several nearby shopping malls. Redevelopment plans were initiated in the early 1980s and implemented through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s to revitalize its downtown by focusing on building housing, retail and transit-oriented projects. The Village of Arlington Heights was chosen as the winner of the 1999 Burnham Award for excellence in planning for its downtown redevelopment successes, including the relocation of the downtown Metra train station. Downtown Arlington Heights now boasts a diverse mix of restaurants, unique shops, quaint boutiques, theaters, and a performing arts center, and was voted ?One of the Most Desirable Downtowns? in a Daily Herald Newspaper survey. Additionally, the American Planning Association awarded the Village the 2001 Outstanding Planning Award for Implementing of Downtown Redevelopment.
With a 2008 estimated population of 78,958 residents and covering an area of 16 square miles, the Village of Arlington Heights is the largest community in Chicago's northwest suburbs. Population growth between the 1990 and 2000 census was modest at +0.76% (from 75,480 to 76,031). Employment decreased from 50,313 to 48,360 between 2000 and 2006, while employment in Cook and Lake Counties combined increased by a modest .7% and state employment increased by 2.5%. This suggests that despite the redevelopment efforts in the downtown, the community continues to lose jobs.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Village of Arlington Heights undertook a redevelopment plan for its downtown to reverse the negative impacts of the loss of businesses to suburban malls. The redevelopment plan identified the old train station as a small and unattractive building that did not fit into the architecture of the downtown business corridor. The Village explored options for improving the station, and a traffic analysis revealed that Arlington Heights Road (a major artery) was blocked 60% of the time during peak traffic hours due to the location of the train platforms. The plan called for the relocation of the station with the goal of reducing traffic congestion and improving north/south access to the station. To make the station more attractive, the Village added parks and public art next to the rail platform. In addition, brick paving, decorative lighting, and benches similar to those used in the downtown were installed to unify the area.
The relocation had two components: a station and track relocation. By moving the station one block west and the platforms two blocks west, rail transit is closer to Arlington's downtown core. The scope for the station relocation included construction of a new depot building, new shelters, landscaping work, improvements to parking surface lots, a new kiss-n-ride lot, a new bus and taxi parking area, new (relocated) in/out platforms, drainage & shelters, and removing old platforms. Some land acquisition was required as a part of this component. The track relocation included relocating a portion of track 1 to allow extension of an island platform, relocating a signal bungalow, and constructing a new island platform west of Vail Avenue. The project received a distinction award from Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) for Central Business District train-station design.
Six agencies provided funds for the station refurbishment, including the Village ($1.4 million from TIF funds), Metra ($1.5 million), Illinois Department of Transportation ($561,000 from ISTEA and FTA), the Northwest Municipal Conference ($349,000), and PACE ($174,000). The total project cost was $4,474,000 ($2000.) The town made additional investments in downtown parking in 2000 and subsequent years. While town lots are shared lots that serve both commuters and visitors to the downtown, their costs are not captured in the station relocation costs.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Overall, weekday boardings for the Arlington-Heights Metra station decreased from 2,579 in 1999 to 2,317 in 2006. Alightings also dropped from 2,557 in 1999 to 2,321 in 2006. While some of this downward trend may be attributed to expanded options for users, including significant improvements related to parking and access to the nearby Arlington Park station, as well as new and improved/expanded stations on nearby lines, the downward trend in boardings and alightings at the Arlington Heights Metra station is not isolated. Rather, it is mirrored by the downward trend for the Union Pacific Northwest (UP-NW) Line. The decline in overall ridership can be attributed to a regional shift in jobs from the urban core to the suburbs where there is less public transit. To that end, the proposed 55-mile Suburban Transit Access Route (Star Line) would enhance Metra's existing hub-and-spoke system by linking the suburban spokes and connecting nearly 100 communities.
Including both the spaces created as part of the relocation of the Metra station and the spaces created as part of the overall redevelopment initiative (see section 4.1.2), the Village manages 2,180 parking spaces for retail, commuter, employee, and resident parking. Over time, the Village has become more sophisticated in how it balances parking among uses. Retail parking is free for 3 hours, and permits are sold for the other uses. The Village changes the parking mix in the decks regularly to accommodate changing conditions.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The relocated Metra station includes expanded retail space. While the expanded retail space was vacant and unoccupied in 2008 due the economic recession, tenants in the years immediately following the relocation included a McDonalds, a bakery cafe, and a Gateway Newsstand employing 12 people in 2005. In contrast, the retail in old station was limited to a coffee shop with two employees.
The relocation of the Arlington Heights Metra station was just one component of a comprehensive downtown redevelopment initiative (see section on 5.0.) As a result these initiatives, three major transit-oriented developments (TOD) were built concurrent with the station relocation including:
Arlington Town Square, opened in 2000 within one block of the Metra Station. It includes 94 condominium units on 13 floors, 72,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, 30,000 square feet of office space, and a six screen movie complex ?the only movie theatre in the Village of Arlington Heights. The development also features 50 surface parking spaces for retail use, a 130 space private parking garage for the condo owners and retail shops, and a 325 space underground public parking garage. Establishments currently located at the Square include restaurants and national retailers such as Joseph A Banks, Anne Taylor Lofts, Starbucks, and California Pizza Kitchen.
To make the project economically feasible, Arlington Heights first assembled the site by purchasing a series of abandoned parking lots and a small drive through bank. The Village then sold it to the developer with a buy-back provision. In addition, the Village constructed the underground parking for the project at a cost of around $30,000 per space. Although costly, underground parking reduced the building massing and freed up land for open space. With a total development cost of almost $60 million, the Village provided $13.9 million in public financing for the project: $9.9 million for the garage, $2.6 million for developer gap financing, and an additional $1 million (all TIF funds) to underwrite land costs.
Before the project, the Village took in $65,000 in annual property taxes from the site. Upon project completion in 2001, the village received $1,371,393 in property and sales tax income. An estimated 284 jobs were created at the retail and office components of the project.
The Metropolis Performing Arts Center is located two blocks from the Metra Station. It features a 357-seat live performance theater, 63 condominium loft units, 32,000 square feet of retail space, 32,000 square feet of office space, and 1,200 parking spaces in an adjacent public garage. Establishments in the complex cater to the Metropolis Theater goers and include Carlos & Carlos Restaurant, Big Shot Piano Lounge, and Grand Station Restaurant.
The total cost of development was $26.3 million. The Village provided $2.35 million in gap financing for the theater and retained rights of first refusal should the owner chose to sell the live performance theater. The Village has since acquired the theater box and 2nd floor classroom and music studio spaces. An estimated 204 jobs were created from the retail and office components of the project.
As reported in the Arlington Heights Post, Chuck FioRito of Joseph Freed and Associates Inc ?the developer of Arlington Town Square TOD - cites the Metra station as an important influence, remarking that ?It's almost mandatory that you have the commuter line. People want to live where they can walk to the train.? This sentiment was re-iterated by developer Mark Anderson who developed the Metropolis Performing Arts Center, and a component of the Village Green TOD, who noted that ?none of this development would have taken place without a TIF district and the Metra Station.? Anderson identified the station relocation investment as critical because it moved the Metra station one block closer to the new developments, greatly enhancing pedestrian access, and demonstrating the Village's commitment to transit-oriented development. Together, these three mixed-use projects have helped to keep a large grocery store downtown. Additionally, these TODs generated 1.2 million in impact fees that paid for schools and parks.
The comprehensive downtown redevelopment effort has since prompted additional investment including $220,000 ($2005) in improvements to the old train station site in 2005, acquisition and development of Harmony Plaza Park in 2005 ($2.1 million in $2005); expansion of Vail Avenue Garage (construction initiated in 2006, total cost of $10.9 million), and construction of the John G Woods Municipal Campus, including a fire station (also initiated in 2006, total cost of $34.6 million). Additionally, a fourth TOD project built in 2006 is located within one block of the relocated train station, Metro Lofts is a mixed use development with 55 condo units and retail on the first floor and a total cost of $21 million ($17.44 in $2000.). An estimated 21 jobs were created from the retail component of the project.
Overall, an estimated 349 jobs created at the four TODs (50% of the total number of jobs) can be attributed to the Metra Station relocation, according to the TOD developers. Similarly, investment attributed to the train station, including 50% of the total development cost of the 4 TOD projects and 100% of the improvements to the old train station site undertaken in 2006, totals $79.97 million ($ 2000.) Currently, there are not jobs at the retail space created at the station, due to the negative impacts of the 2008-2010 recession.
To facilitate the revitalization of its downtown, the Village introduced new zoning requirements. The new zoning permits mixed uses, requires first-floor retail uses in mixed-use buildings, supports higher densities downtown by allowing buildings up to 140 feet in height, and reduces parking requirements near the rail station. In addition, parking for new development can be accommodated in public parking garages. The public parking garages constructed in conjunction with Arlington Town Square, the Metropolis and the Village Green have been critical to their success.
The Village facilitated development by using eminent domain and open market purchases to assemble land in the downtown. Moreover, the Village provided project-based gap financing, fa?ade improvement grants, business relocation assistance, and retail interior building grants to help offset interior finishing costs for new restaurants. The main financing source for Village assistance is Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The first TIF district, which was established in 1983 and expired in 2006, was located south of the Arlington Heights Metra Station. The second TIF district, established in 1986 and ended in 2006, included the Arlington Heights Metra Station on Northwest Highway. TIF funds were used for the following: construction of three public parking garages, streetscape / sidewalk beautification of all downtown streets, development of Harmony Park, construction of the train station, acquisition of the Metropolis Performing Arts Theater, loans and grants to renovate the older buildings in downtown, and new sewers and street pavement.
As a result of these efforts, The Village was able to leverage approximately $50 million in TIF funds to facilitate over $250 million in private investment in the area between 1999 and 2005. Commercial space roughly doubled from 300,000 square feet (1983) to 522,000 square feet (2006) Housing units increased from 150 units (1983) to 1,115 units (2006, and the population living in the downtown area increased more than 4 fold from 350 (1983) to 1,587 (2006).
The increase in commercial space between 1983 and 2006 resulted in the creation of an estimated 926 jobs. Restaurant sales for downtown establishments realized an almost 4 fold increase from $7.5 million in 1998 to $29 million in 2009. The assessed values in the two TIF districts increased tenfold, from an estimate $10.7 million to $104.8 million.
Mark Anderson Associates
Metra Division of Capital and Strategic Planning
Village of Arlington Heights Planning and Community Development
Case study developed by ICF International