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Article updated: 7/2/2013 5:15 PM

City of Highwood Announces Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plan to Improve Transportation and Transit Systems

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By Cassy Murphy

The City of Highwood is proud to announce the start of the Downtown Highwood Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) plan, and is asking for public input. The City has brought in the professional planning firm of Teska Associates, Inc. to facilitate a public participation and outreach campaign, which would include elements such as an interactive project website (highwoodtod.wordpress.com), web-based surveys, community workshops and open houses.

"These outreach efforts will enable the community to actively contribute to the planning process, providing valuable ideas and feedback needed to guide the plan to ensure that it will meet with the community's long term vision and values," states Scott Hartman, City Manager.

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Highwood's newly adopted Village Comprehensive Plan identified a number of projects that possess the opportunity to strengthen downtown. The Downtown TOD planning project will provide a more detailed analysis of development opportunities, market economics, architectural and landscape design guidelines, and improvements to existing transportation (vehicle, pedestrian, bike) and transit systems. The plan will focus on the following objectives:

Explore improvements to existing bus service, along with improvements and strategies to expand utilization of the Metra parking.

Establish a strong mixed-use district near the Metra station.

Explore development within Downtown Highwood that would enhance the demand for retail, entertainment, and transit ridership.

Strengthen the retail and entertainment environment, and explore opportunities for redevelopment.

Create design guidelines create and architectural and design consistency within the downtown core.

Establish an improved physical link between downtown parks and the community in order to enhance access to the downtown.

Advance the recommended redevelopment improvements outlined in the 2002 Downtown TIF Redevelopment Plan and Program.

"We are honored to be a part of this TOD project that will allow the City of Highwood to further develop the downtown planning concepts around the Metra station using TOD development principles, to create necessary zoning and design standards to encourage appropriate mixed-use development, and to leverage funding opportunities to develop an appropriate balance of jobs and housing opportunities around the commuter station," says Konstantine T. Savoy, principal, Teska Associates.

Since enhancement of the Metra service is of vital importance to both Highwood and the RTA, the City of Highwood was awarded grant funding through the RTA to engage in this planning effort. RTA is an active participant and partner on this exciting project.

The City is asking its residents for their opinions, concerns and hopes on the new plan. An online survey is open for public input through July at http://www.CityofHighwood.com. Project updates will be posted on the Highwood Downtown Transit Oriented Development Plan website.

The City will announce future public outreach opportunities such as community workshops and open houses on the City of Highwood Facebook Page and Website.

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