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RDA approves transit development district boundaries

This updated version of the transit development district for the future West Lake Corridor station at Main Street was among seven approved by the RDA on August 11.

A tool to help communities capitalize on Northwest Indiana's commuter rail projects has taken another step forward. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority on Thursday approved the boundaries for seven transit development districts (TDDs) along the South Shore Line and West Lake Corridor.

They're kind of like TIF districts, but in this case, they capture the incremental growth in local income as well as property tax revenue near train stations, so that money can be used on improvements in that district. The idea is to promote transit-oriented development, like homes and businesses within walking distance to the train. But some of the districts stretch far beyond the train stations they're designed to serve, to include specific properties where communities expect to see development.

The only change since the June public hearing was to the district for the future West Lake station at Main Street. The town of Dyer asked to add more undeveloped land along Calumet Avenue south of 213th, along with two vacant lots on Sheffield. That area stretches up to two miles away from the future train station, but putting it within the boundaries means the new tax revenue would go into the district.

"These districts will enable the RDA to accelerate development and support public infrastructure investment around commuter rail stations in Northwest Indiana,” RDA President and CEO Sherri Ziller said in a statement, noting the "hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of projects" already underway in Hammond and Michigan City.

The transit development district boundaries now go to the State Budget Committee for final approval. Meanwhile, RDA officials have begun working on districts for Downtown Gary, Dune Park and Beverly Shores.