Cottage Grove L

The Cottage Grove 'L' station, 800 E. 63rd St., and the site of a new commercial building by the Preservation of Affordable Housing

The CTA is planning a major renovation to the Cottage Grove Green Line station, including a pedestrian bridge to a new commercial building in Woodlawn built by the nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH).

Despite the transit agency's projected $375 million budget deficit, there are no planned fare hikes or bus and rail service changes, but the leadership is making an urgent appeal for more federal aid.

The proposed CTA budget also includes a 2021-25 capital program worth $3.4 billion, funded in part by the 2019-passed state capital bill. It includes three upgrades to infrastructure along the 'L' Green Line's East 63rd Branch: 

  • A $60 million upgrade to the Cottage Grove station, 800 E. 63rd St.
  • A $6 million upgrade to the King Drive station, 400 E. 63rd St.
  • Renovations and repairs to the 63rd Lower Yard, 329 E. 61st St.

There will be a new Cottage Grove stationhouse, with conceptual designs calling for a pedestrian bridge linking the station to the new POAH commercial development at 63rd and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Bill Eager, POAH's Midwestern Vice President of Real Estate Development, said he was unsure about the CTA's timeframe on the station makeover, but he's hoping to begin his own construction in about a year and finish the building in 2023.

"We're in the process of trying to plan out exactly what the building's going to look like and who the tenants are going to be, that sort of thing," he said. The new building, a projected $25-30 million development, will replace a vacant, one-story existing structure on the lot.

It will not contain housing, but ground-floor retail and offices upstairs. Eager acknowledged that he worked for an affordable housing developer but pointed to POAH's 10 years in Woodlawn, adding, "We've always felt like at some point this intersection really needed to be addressed, and we think (it) would be really beneficial to the future of 63rd Street and Cottage Grove, in both directions. 

"We've been talking for a long time with CTA about how we sort of comprehensively rehabilitate this intersection so that it's more pedestrian friendly, so that it have more community-focused businesses, that sort of thing," he continued.

The new building will be across the street from Woodlawn Station, 6253 S. Cottage Grove Ave., with ground-floor businesses below apartments. Friend Health is also planning to build a flagship health center near the intersection — it is seeking $8 million in Tax Increment Financing funding to complete the development.

There will be a community engagement process well before groundbreaking, Eager said, and the CTA is planning virtual public hearing on the budget on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, at 6 p.m.

Other projects include $327.8 million for the Red Line Extension project, which would take the all-hours service to 130th Street, $78 million for accessibility station improvements, new and overhauled rail cars and new all-electric buses.

“Investment in transit infrastructure has always been an investment in a strong future for the city,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr., said in a statement. “Further, continued investment in transit is directly tied to our city’s economic recovery, a way to promote jobs and opportunities at a time when the city needs them most.”

The transit agency has seen an unprecedented loss of ridership and revenue since the beginning of the pandemic in March, and funding from the Illinois sales tax is below anticipated levels.

Carter is calling on Congress to give a second round of funding to sustain service levels, which are yet projected to be impacted in the agency's $1.64 billion operating budget proposal.

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