New Economic Opportunities for Southside Possible with ONE Central Transit Hub

A new study released by Chicago Consulting firm, WSP shows the ONE Central Transit Hub can dramatically increase mobility and transit access across the Chicagoland area, particularly on the south side.   The ONE Central Project is a development on a 34-acre site with more than 3,000 linear feet of frontage on Lake Show Drive.  While unifying the area’s transit system, it also creates a gateway to the central area, Museum Campus, McCormick Place, Wintrust Area, and Soldier Field.   It has the capacity for future civic, retail, office, residential, institutional, and entertainment development.  The project is a $3.8 billion-dollar civic infrastructure development that is privately funded.  The project enhances transit access for residents.   The ONE Central Project consists of two parts, the Civic Build, and the Private Build.

“What our research concluded is that ONE Central is the only location in the region that could produce such tremendous growth in ridership importantly, it’s the only location that’s financeable an”-Joe Willhite, Midwest Director for WSP

The Civic Build

The civic build creates a transit hub to integrate Metra, Amtrak, CTA, and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District with a new downtown circulator with connections to other civic assets. The ONE Central Transit hub will create a gateway between downtown and the southside where people can travel to jobs more efficiently.  The project’s developers say this hub will allow businesses and prosperity to flow in both directions, not just the central business district in Chicago.

Bob Dunn said, “It’s a project that has the ability to reach and impact the core of downtown and throughout the city, with emphasis on the south and southwest side.  We just haven’t seen that kind of transformative investment and opportunity. It’s more than a real estate development, it’s a civic infrastructure that will make Chicago stronger economically and create equity for all residents of the city and build core infrastructure.”

The ONE Central Transit hub would include a new downtown circulator system called the “Chi-Line” with connections to Navy Pier, the Lakefront, and North Michigan Avenue. It would also have a Welcome Center to potentially guide visitors to Chicago landmarks such as Grant Park, Millenium Park, Mag Mile, Art Institute, and more.  Developers say the transit hub will reduce commute times and increase the number of people able to commute downtown.  This transportation solution could support 42 million CTA and Metra Riders by year forty.

The Private Build

The ONE Central Project includes capacity for nearly 20 million square feet of commercial, residential, hospitality, health/wellness, and educational space.  The developers believe this plan responds to a looming shortage of central area development sites.  By leveraging transit improvements and integration they believe it will drive economic development and job growth to the South Loop and south side neighborhoods.   While the transit hub would provide visitors access to visit popular Chicago sights more easily, it will also connect Chicago residents and visitors with popular attractions further south such as the Museum of Science and Industry, the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, and the future home of the Obama Presidential Library in Woodlawn.

The ONE Central project has the potential to create and support 15,000 construction jobs during the 20-year buildout and another 40,000 jobs across other sectors.  Developers say the Civic and Private build of the ONE Central project can generate $19 billion in new private construction spending.

“Our South Side Works program is about lifting household incomes and creating equity and opportunity for residents on the southside.  To do that you need major investment and significant private capital to create career opportunities that are sustainable over a long period of time.  ONE Central brings that major private investment to build the civic build asset”. -Bob Dunn, Landmark Development

The build is expected to take 20 years to complete and could create over 180,000 new boardings helping to increase transit ridership.  City Hall still needs to sign off on zoning and the state needs to ok Landmark’s request to purchase the transit center.   The transit hub at ONE Central with CTA and Metra rail connectivity is projected to spur additional economic development and more equitable transit-oriented development in neighborhoods to the south along the Metra Electric lines while opening the possibility of 78,000 new jobs on the south side and an additional 70,000 jobs created at the ONE Central Development site.


Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.


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