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My Mind Has Left My Body
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Much of the burbs is a lost cause beyond hope. But reading about towns like Evanston, Arlington Hts., Palatine etc. building density at least immediate to their downtown's has me thinking why not most or every others suburbs downtown Metra stations? Is there any leverage or pressure that can be put upon the towns to maximize and utilize the most out the resource?

I also remember reading somewhere about metro Toronto passing some sort of initiative to density and aim for TOD throughout the metro. Why can't/doesn't Chicago metro do the same in any meaningful context? Will this happen naturally over time since many towns are built out does there need to be coercion? 95% of these towns are unsalvageable but maybe we can at least make a metro of commuter islands that are actually worth mention and utlized urban assets. Will it ever happen? The million or so that come every decade into the region have to go somewhere, I just hope its not further into cornfields in the far west and north regions.
 

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More and more retirees are opting to stay where they, their children and grandchildren have their roots rather than relocate to the sunbelt. Having relatively carefree condominiums close to, if not next to, public transportation in a downtown whose library has a variety of programs for them, plus the proximity of a nearby cineplex, speciality shops, bookstores and a Starbucks seals the deal. It's a nice trend that bodes well even for the cultural attractions of downtown Chicago.
 

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LaGrange does this very well...Tinley Park is in the process of overhauling its downtown around the oak park ave. metra station; Orland Park is in the process of doing the same.
 

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Bartlett is also (on a smaller scale) developing mult-istory condos around its train station, (we're actually getting a new one). Unfortunately we have a 60 ft height limit, but I suppose we should be happy with what we get.
 

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It certainly would be nice because most downtowns have an abundant amount of parking lots. However, you also have lots of NIMBYs that live in houses next to downtown or in midrises next door and complain about height/density/parking issues. Really only the last issue I can sort of understand because downtown streets are usually small and in some towns it can be difficult to find or own parking near a Metra station.
 

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More and more retirees are opting to stay where they, their children and grandchildren have their roots rather than relocate to the sunbelt. Having relatively carefree condominiums close to, if not next to, public transportation in a downtown whose library has a variety of programs for them, plus the proximity of a nearby cineplex, speciality shops, bookstores and a Starbucks seals the deal. It's a nice trend that bodes well even for the cultural attractions of downtown Chicago.
This is a win-win for most suburbs: longtime residents get to stay in town, while new families can move into the existing houses and schools. The new shops and transit ridership downtown are just a bonus, really. It's a way to avoid sliding into the abyss of suburban decline, where older residents resist moving and paying taxes to educate a dwindling number of children.

However, there's not a lot that can be done to force suburban municipalities to take better advantage of TOD opportunities. Hundreds of voluntary educational workshops have been offered, but Illinois is not Ontario or even Minnesota; our planning tradition defers heavily to municipalities. Besides, there are so many thousands of suburban public officials out there -- it would take countless workshops to reach them all.

Two ideas: regional agencies can continue to foster a wide array of downtown redevelopments at different scales and in different contexts; this shows that this isn't all Arlington Heights or Evanston style high-rises and builds a base of developers with the skills and knowledge for these projects. These developers will then sense the best opportunities and spread them to the corners of the region.
 

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I know Naperville has completed or is constructing a total of 8 buildings in the downtown area. 5 are completed with 2 still under contruction(nothing huge only 3-6 storeys but still more density). 3 are filled with nothing but condos. 3 mixed usage(condo/office) and 2 only office building. As well as a brand new Performing Arts Hall with seating for over 600.
Also there will be a new parking garage replacing a large surface lot downtown. Bringing the total number of garages in Downtown to 3. I know nobody likes garages but they are better than surface lots. And I'm sure the architects will make the design visually pleasing as well as conform with the other buildings in the area.
 

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Its crazy that almost no one on this board gives credit to Naperville's downtown. It is the busiest of all the suburban downtowns, pedestraians everywhere, speciality shops, bars, restaraunts, condos, riverwalk etc. but people wanna give love to Arlington Heights???? A movie theatre, two bad Italian restaraunts, no street traffic. And Palatine???? I know they are in the process, but come on.

I realize there is a lot of individuals from the northshore or northside on this forum, but places like Elmhurst and Naperville are far more vibrant than a Skokie, Alrington Heights, Mount Prospect, Northbrook.
 

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OK, I'll give you the rap on Naperville, and please note that I don't agree with it:

Naperville no respect because the downtown has been overdeveloped to the point of saturation. All that crass commercial stuff has sucked a good portion of the charm out of what was once THE coolest downtown in the western 'burbs. Its downtown is also nowhere near the train station, it has poor to non-existant public transportation, and the city has annexed everything for miles, making it the capitol of suburban sprawl.

Lke I said, I don't agree, but that's what Naperville's detractors usually say.
I response to what those people may say...

Downtown may no longer be the cute little mom and pop stores but replacing it are great restaurants, fun bars and clubs, wealthy condos, office buildings...the things which make up a city. Naperville is no longer a mom and pop farm town. At 150,000 people it is becoming its own city.

Plus downtown Naperville will always be COOL with the ricerwalk, centential beach, North Central College, and tons of nightlife.

Downtown is only 4-5 blocks south of the tracks. Personally I think it is great that the tracks are not running right through downtown. It doesn't split up the town and all the commuters and parking are a few blocks from the shopping/eating.

Public Transportation may be lacking but it recently upgraded its PACE system which is fairly extensive a brings commuters to both Metra stations.


I got nothing on the sprawl...it sucks
 

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Not saying Naperville is perfect, but neither are the other burbs. I find it funny that when Evanston puts in a trendy restaraunt with pedesterian traffic it is considered "great urban planning," but when Naperville does it, it "sucks out the charm."

Anyways, no place is perfect, and access to Public transportation is quite accessible. How lazy are we as a country if walking 4 blocks north is "nowhere near the train station" Thats right Naperville train station is just north of downtown, in plenty of walking distance. Add in the childs museum, top ranked schools, top ranked public librarires, restaraunts, retail, etc. you have a great city. Is there disgusting sprawl, of course, remember most of it was farmland 20 years ago. Same goes with Alrington Heights, Palatine, etc. Now they are more dense overrall than Naperville, but Naperville has twice the population.
 

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born again cyclist
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Its crazy that almost no one on this board gives credit to Naperville's downtown. It is the busiest of all the suburban downtowns.
i love the fact that you still hold onto this delusion of yours that downtown naperville can not only stand up to downtown evanston, but that it in fact surpasses it. downtown evanston is far more urban & mixed-use than downtown naperville and it is a whole order of magnitude bigger in terms of area, population, and building heights.

look, downtown naperville is a fine place, it's light years better than the craptacular sprawl that constitutes most of naperville, but only 1 suburban chicago downtown stands above all others in terms of the things that people on this forum care about (population density, building density, building heights, mix of uses, vibrancy, pedestrian friendliness, lack of surface parking lots, & public transportation), and that place is downtown evanston.


I find it funny that when Evanston puts in a trendy restaraunt with pedesterian traffic it is considered "great urban planning," but when Naperville does it, it "sucks out the charm."
nice staw man argument there. i don't think i've ever heard anyone on this forum make both of those claims with regards to these two cities. the fact is there are PLENTY of evanstonians who are extremely critical of the growth, success, vibrancy, and yes trendy "chain-storing" of downtown evanston over the last decade or so, just as i'm sure you could find many napervillians who aren't pleased with what they perceive as the loss of the individualistic charm of downtown naperville over the recent past.

on the other hand, i'm sure you'll also find plenty of people in both towns who are pleased with the developement and progress the respective downtowns have made, even if it has meant that more national chain retailers have entered the fray.
 

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Steely Dan I have never said a bad word about Evanston, love it. Used to live a few miles from it while I was in Rogers Park. You are right, I do believe that downtown Naperville is the best downtown burb, just my opinion. I have yet to see a livelier downtown in the summertime.
Is there horrible sprawl is Naperville, of course. There is good and bad in all burbs. I just find it funny that so many northsiders/northshore/Arlington Heights lovers refused to give any western burb outside of Oak Park credit.

I know that many northshorers who only feel comfortable in the western suburbs if they are in the smugness of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, etc.
 

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born again cyclist
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I just find it funny that so many northsiders/northshore/Arlington Heights lovers refused to give any western burb outside of Oak Park credit.
where does your persecution complex come from? name 1 person in this thread who has refused to give credit to naperville. the vast majority of folks on this forum would very much give credit to downtown naperville for its success and vibrancy, even if it still falls short of downtown evanston in most measures.
 

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Hey everyone, Im new around here so heres my two cents. I lived in Naperville for a year, up until April of this year. In April I finally made the move to the city after a lifetime in the burbs. Downtown Naperthrill (as its been known) was always a good time with all of the bars and nightlife activites. But to live in Naperville or pretty much any burb it is next to impossible to get around without a car, Im sure this has been discussed already. Overall, I finally got way to sick of the urban sprawl!
 

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And you wonder why nobody in the US used public transportation. If we had systems like that in NYC, LA, Chi alot more than 25% of people would be using public transportation.

What do you guys think about the STAR line. Do you think this project is actually going to happen in our lifetime? What do you think it will do for suburban Chicago?
 

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My Mind Has Left My Body
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
No, they don't. Some of those Paris suburbs are relatively close to the city boundaries to be sure since Paris is small and some look as dense as you would find in dense near side Chicago neighborhoods. It is for sure not an apples to apples comparision but it is something to aspire to even if not attainable.

And you wonder why nobody in the US used public transportation. If we had systems like that in NYC, LA, Chi alot more than 25% of people would be using public transportation.
While the stations and trainsets are nice just as or more important is the dense development you see in those photos around the stations.

Even if there were as many options, nice trains and stations as Paris I don't think you would get ridership near approching the Paris numbers. Paris suburbs are very dense while in the U.S. we have big asse wide roads, big highways, and parking lots everywhere. It is just too convenient for too many to drive even as much as one may bitch about congestion in the burbs.

What do you guys think about the STAR line. Do you think this project is actually going to happen in our lifetime? What do you think it will do for suburban Chicago?
I like the idea of the DMU's and O'Hare access but other then that I think its largely a waste of resources which should be spent on increasing efficiency and capacity for Metra lines into the city.
 
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