Since 2009, Chicago has experienced an influx of suburban companies relocating or adding a satellite offices to the central business district. The trend doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon with companies desiring to capture young talent and achieve a live-work-play environment for their employees.
From 2005 to 2015, the Chicago metropolitan region added about 334,000 jobs, a growth rate of nearly 9 percent. About half of those new jobs are located within a half-mile of a CTA or Metra station, and 60 percent of them are in areas with high-quality transit service. Table 1 shows that areas close to stations grew jobs at a much faster rate than the regional average. Areas within a quarter-mile—a five-minute walk—of a CTA ‘L’ or Metra station, grew by 20 percent, more than twice the regional rate. Conversely, areas further than a half-mile from rail grew two percent slower than the regional average.
Table 1: Job growth is higher near transit
Commercial construction is another indicator that the region’s economy is growing near transit. While construction rates are closely tied to broader economic conditions, the past 10 years show a clear trend that has been rapidly strengthening since 2014. Increasingly, commercial construction is happening within a half-mile or less of a CTA ‘L’ or Metra station. In 2017, 85 percent of all commercial construction happened in this relatively miniscule area as shown in figure 1. While there are many factors motivating a developer’s decision to build, the market has a clear preference for locations near transit.
Figure 1: Commercial reconstruction ramps up near transit
This transit-friendly trend also goes beyond commercial construction. Figure 2 shows all permits issued in the City of Chicago for new construction or renovation valued at $100,000 or more. Areas closest to rail transit have consistently attracted more investment. The same is also true if bus service is included.
Figure 2: Chicago reconstruction near transit is most attractive