The Cornerstone Group

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Apple gets into TOD-Like!

refurbished North/Clybourn transit station (by: Steven Vance, creative commons license)

Check out Lincoln Park’s newly-renovated subway station. It kind of makes us think about our TOD thought process in a bit of a different way. The high prices for land and property, along with the ubiquitous uncertainty about the direction of our cities; repositioning dilapidated, underutilized properties in great neighborhoods to serve transit seems like a good idea.

North/Clybourn before the makeover (by: Kevin Zolkiewicz, creative commons license) notice the peeling paint (by: Eric Allix Rogers, creative commons license)

With projects piling up on our desks, and lean, hesitant capital markets, we are challenged to think about innovative ways to fund this type of project. Ironically, the ~$4m project was privately funded, by Apple, along with the construction of a new retail store on connected property!

Mike Cassidy wrote in The San Jose Mercury News:

“This is not a company that leaves much to chance and there was no way the sales gurus in Cupertino were going to let a dungeon-like transit stop present the first impression of their sleek and glassy store.

“Remember, Apple sells an experience as much as it sells products.

the Lincoln Park Apple store, just before opening (by: Kevin Zolkiewicz, creative commons license)“’The public might not think of it this way, but the retail experience doesn’t start exactly in your store. It starts when they approach your store,’ says Kirthi Kalyanam, a professor with the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business.”

The CTA hasn’t agreed to the proposed name, they apparently haven’t ruled it out, either, but “the Apple Red Line Stop,” Mary Schmich in The Chicago Tribune suggests that they may as well, since everyone has been calling it that since they began construction.

A friend of Schmich’s is especially fond of the plaza:

“A plaza, with seats. Like these guys weren’t so terrified of homeless people sitting down that they weren’t going to let anyone else sit down, either. And a fountain, that instant supplier of peace. It made me want to sit down on a nice day with a cup of tea and a book. OK, in gratitude to Apple, it should be an iPad, but whatever. I say thank you to Apple.”

the new Apple Plaza (by: Ian Freimuth, creative commons license)

Although Kaid Bedfield has “mixed emotions about the project,” we have been big proponents of corporate involvement in our projects. He says, “some of us are old enough to remember a time when PBS didn’t run advertising… But given that the public realm in the US has been allowed to deteriorate as much as it has… and public services – especially if the services are, you know, for someone else – it’s a good thing that other entities with the means step up to fill gaps.”

Not unlike other projects we’ve seen in Chicago, the “Apple Redline Stop” keeps pushing the limit for the rest of the country. However, we keep getting tripped up on the same issues that  Sarah Goodyear points out on Grist:

“Earlier this year — just months after Apple announced its intention to renovate the North/Clybourn station — the CTA cut service on 119 bus routes and seven rail lines to deal with a $300 million deficit. This after raising fares in 2009. Transit systems around the nation have been slashing service, laying off employees, and asking passengers to pay more at the farebox. You can find an excellent map of the damage at Transportation for America‘s site. Meanwhile, the tough decisions about how to fund our nation’s transportation system keep getting kicked down the road.

“So, kudos to Apple for putting a shine on the public facility that will serve its eager customers. The rest of the nation’s transit users are still waiting for a solution.”

We’ve been looking past those [rather valid] points in a unique attempt to drive innovative design and development.

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