Transit-Oriented Development

A busy transit stop at a dark corner of a low-income community has turned into a major community asset and a national model of a smart, green building.

Transit-oriented development incorporates a mix of high-density residential, retail, and office functions, all within easy access of a major transit stop. Bethel New Life, a 25-year-old faith-based community development corporation on Chicago's west side, discovered transit-oriented development during their struggle to save the community's elevated rail stop from closing.

Bethel constructed the Lake Pulaski Commercial Center on a remediated brownfield site across from the transit stop. This smart, green building is the new home to an employment center, six commercial storefronts, and a daycare center serving more than 100 children.

Built in part with recycled materials, the building has a green roof that decreases heat absorption in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Photovoltaic cells, efficient heating and air conditioning, automatic light dimmers, and super insulation combine to create a potential energy savings of 50 percent compared to standard commercial buildings.

A walking bridge links the building to the transit platform for easy access. Bethel has also developed affordable homes within walking distance of the transit stop.

Looking ahead, Steven McCullough, Bethel's chief operating officer, says, “This development is now an anchor for the redevelopment of the community.”

Mary Nelson is the president & CEO of Bethel New Life, Inc.

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