West Lake TOD

This project was completed while working at Farr Associates (Chicago, IL).

Role: Project Manager and Urban Designer

Project Overview

The West Lake Corridor Extension Project offers Northwest Indiana a catalytic opportunity to invest in strengthening its ties to the Chicago region’s economy, which is the third largest in the U.S. The essence of the West Lake TOD Project is to leverage the future commuter rail service proposed in the West Lake Corridor Project to connect Hammond, Munster, and Dyer to the Chicago Loop and spur hundreds of millions of dollars of development within walking distance of four new commuter stations. This transit-oriented development will boost the economy of Northwest Indiana and offer new, healthier lifestyle choices for Hoosiers. 

This TOD Project serves two purposes: (1) to support the funding application to build the rail facilities, and (2) to position the communities for development readiness. Securing “New Starts” funding from the Federal Transit Administration to build the rail extension is a highly competitive national process. Successive governors and the Indiana State Legislature have shown impressive leadership to position Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s application to be “shovel ready” on day one, a fundamental requirement for funding. However, a solid rail plan alone will not win funding. The TOD vision plans shown in Part Two and the regulating framework shown in Part Three are essential to compete successfully with the ambitious transit-oriented developments being proposed across the country. 

The station area plans were developed with robust community involvement to fir their unique context, with each plan being revised multiple times in response to feedback. As a result, the TOD plans enjoy broad support by the community and elected officials in each municipality. Each station area also includes detailed design guidelines for the scale and character of development around the proposed stations. 

A closer look at one of the station areas

Munster / Dyer Main Street Station

The TOD vision plan for the Munster / Dyer Main Street station area features growth of a new neighborhood with townhomes, multi-family housing, and neighborhood services. The TOD vision plan also incorporates complementary multi-modal connections, parks and plazas, as well as new streets that will connect to Columbia/ Sheffield Avenue, creating better circulation to ensure efficient multi-modal movement around the station and to future neighborhoods. 

Two neighborhood parks anchor the residential development on both sides of the West Lake tracks. The western park is shown framed by a range of townhomes and multistory residential buildings. Amenities such as a small gym or service uses are envisioned in the ‘L’ shaped buildings, and pictured in photo 'D.' The eastern park is shown programmed with two tennis courts, a small ‘tot lot’ for children, as well as landscaped, passive space. 


The relationship between the West Lake Rail Extension and the West Lake TOD Project

The West Lake TOD Report focuses on one part of two concurrent and related projects. The first project, and what this report is not focused on, is referred to as the NICTD West Lake Corridor Extension Project. This refers to an engineering project lead by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) and the physical construction of the proposed West Lake railroad tracks, station buildings, parking lots, and any private property acquisition required to construct these rail operation facilities. The NICTD West Lake Corridor Project team is led by NICTD, and has included engineering consultants AECOM and HDR at different points in the engineering planning process. For more information on this project visit: www.nictdwestlake.com

The other project, which is the focus of the report below, is the West Lake TOD Project: the conceptual planning of infrastructure and real estate development around the future West Lake Train Stations. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) is leading the Design Team for this project, which consists of Farr Associates (urban design, community engagement, zoning recommendations), GB Arrington (New Starts application consulting), Strategic Economics (market analysis, market accelerator strategies, feasibility study), and Sam Schwartz (mobility recommendations). 

The proposed West Lake Corridor map and project relationship diagram below graphically explain the two projects. 

Final Report, Adopted in Fall of 2017 and submitted for West Lake New Starts Application