As a part of Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago Recovery Plan, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is launching the Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD) Pre-Development Grant Program. This program supplements the ETOD Development Grant program that launched in December 2022 for ETOD proposals that have already advanced through their pre-development phases.

The ETOD Pre-Development Grant Program is being launched in recognition that community groups, local businesses, and grass-roots organizations across Chicago are exploring equitable transit-oriented development proposals but may lack the financial resources and technical expertise to move their ideas to development stage. While many projects have strong missions and visions, they often need support undertaking the many planning and pre-development activities that are essential for projects to access additional funding and ultimately get built. Organizations based on the South and West sides of the City, which face systemic barriers to both accessing capital and were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are especially in mind.

To address these needs, the ETOD Pre-Development Grant program will grant up to $150,000 to eligible organizations to execute planning and pre-development activities for ETOD initiatives during a twelve-month period (with the opportunity for extension).

See below for details of the grant program, or feel free to get your application started here.

Eligible Expenses

ETOD Pre-Development Grant awardees will be able to get funding for the activities that take place before projects are ready to move into the development phase, for example:

  • Creating a clear project scope
  • Hiring a project manager
  • Refining design and engineering documents
  • Creating detailed project cost estimates
  • Establishing a financial proforma
  • Confirming the project site is compatible with zoning rules
  • Paying for essential due diligence costs (e.g. land title search, legal fees)

ETOD Criteria


  • shaped through intentional community engagement;
  • maximizes the benefits and minimizes the burdens to communities impacted by racial, climate, or health inequity;
  • promotes universal accessibility for people with disabilities;
  • and explicitly and intentionally advances racial, climate, and health equity. 

Transit-Oriented Development:

  • Near at least one public transportation access point such as bus (CTA or Pace Pulse) or train (CTA or Metra);
  • provides access to multiple modes of transportation;
  • designed to increase transit ridership;
  • aims to improve sidewalk safety, walkability and bicycling; and
  • promotes shared use mobility (car share, bike share, scooter share, rideshare).

Eligible Projects

  • Residential real estate projects (e.g. affordable housing, co-operative housing); and
  • Commercial real estate projects (e.g. neighborhood retail, community kitchens, neighborhood centers);
  • Mixed-use real estate projects (e.g. artist live/work spaces, community hubs)

Know before you apply

  • The primary goal of this program is to build the pipeline of shovel-ready, investment-ready ETOD projects that meet community priorities.
  • By providing these funds the City aims to accelerate the pace of development for ETOD projects, allowing projects to move through the City’s internal design, zoning, and underwriting processes much quicker and ready them for future public, private and philanthropic capital.
  • Priority will be given to catalytic projects with a strong local impact, that are able to leverage local talents, capacities, and institutions to strengthen and contribute to the community.
  • Proposals will be evaluated based on how they help to meet the goals of the ETOD Policy Plan and advance aspects of the Connected Communities Ordinance.
  • Recipients of the ETOD Pre-Development Grant will also be required to participate in the City’s technical assistance program for ETOD grant recipients.
  • Grant awards are expected to be up to $150,000, and applicants are expected to complete their funded activities within 12 months of being awarded grant funding (with the opportunity for extension).
  • This program is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot's plan to amplify once-in-a-generation federal funding to create an equity-based investment strategy to catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadline to apply is WEDNESDAY, March 15 at 11:59 pm (BEFORE MIDNIGHT) CT Late submissions will not be accepted. The application form is here.

The City’s ETOD vision is that every Chicagoan should be able to live in a healthy, walkable, vibrant community connected to transit and all its benefits. The Chicago ETOD Policy Plan outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the City to take to advance racial equity, wealth building, public health and climate resilience goals through equitable Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD). The Connected Communities Ordinance approved by City Council in July 2022 may also inform applications.