Measuring the Impact of The 606

Report by Geoff Smith, Sarah Duda, Jin Man Lee, Michael Thompson
November 1, 2016

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)

Measuring the Impact of the 606: Understanding How a Large Public Investment Impacted the Surrounding Community examines how the housing market responded to the development of The 606 linear park, Chicago's recent addition to the growing number of "rails to trails" projects nationwide. Although these projects are celebrated for the benefits they provide, they can also accelerate neighborhood change, leading to higher housing costs and increased risk of displacement for lower-income residents.

This analysis looks at how house prices changed for neighborhoods adjacent to the trail and at different points in time related to trail development. In the already strong and stable 606 East housing market, a new amenity had a very limited effect on house prices because demand and house prices were already very high. In lower-income 606 West, the trail had a much more substantial effect by attracting new demand from buyers willing to pay a substantial premium to live near the trail.

These findings have implications for community development practitioners trying to develop a balanced set of policies that will allow cities and neighborhoods to benefit from the success of these projects while also preserving housing affordability and limiting the potential displacement of lower-income residents.

To read the full report, which includes additional analysis and visuals as well as background on how demand changes impact housing affordability,