Client:  Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A), in association with LaSalle Partners, was engaged by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to identify and evaluate the real estate assets of the CTA, identify opportunities for enhancing needed assets and program surplus assets for disposition. GG+A developed site evaluation criteria and in conjunction with LaSalle Partners, inspected CTA’s several hundred station sites, bus turnarounds, land holdings, and rail/bus maintenance and storage facilities. GG+A devised a classification and ranking system for the property inventory. For bus turnaround properties, GG+A identified an opportunity to expand and enhance revenues from billboard advertising, telephones and newspaper boxes and recommended a strategy for capitalizing on the opportunity. For CTA’s operating maintenance and storage facilities, GG+A identified an opportunity to raise capital through a sales-leaseback program.

GG+A performed extensive research and analysis of CTA stations. This included surveys of a sample of existing CTA vendors and real estate representatives of other transit agencies such as BART, Caltrans, and MUNI. Based on the results of the survey research, GG+A developed a financial model on the economics of vending that produces reliable estimates of the rent vendors can pay as a function of ridership volume and other critical factors. GG+A evaluated the existing leasing arrangements and property management operations and identified opportunities for real estate revenue enhancement and operating cost reductions. GG+A identified which stations had potential for added revenues, which ones were performing to their potential and which ones had potentially endangered or troubled tenants. GG+A made recommendations concerning leasing and property management policies and procedures as well as on alternative solicitation methods.. GG+A formulated a program for redeveloping station facilities to enhance their environments and appeal to riders, and increase revenues from developing and leasing interior station space to vendors.

The CTA has accepted the recommendations and is now considering implementation options.