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Increased Number of Type A Units Required on Chicago ARO Projects

2021 1206 Ideas Post
Dec 06, 2021
Michael Grochola

On September 14th, amendments to Title 14B Building Code, Chapter 11 Accessibility of the Chicago Municipal Code were passed by the City Council. These amendments are of importance to anyone constructing multi-family residential projects here in the city as they affect dwelling unit dispersion requirements.

Record # SO2021-3239, at the bottom of page 63 and continuing into page 64 is where the amendment to Section 14B-11-1107 for dwelling units is written. Section 1107. of the code was amended to read as follows “Type A units shall be distributed proportionally throughout the building to provide a variety of sizes and location and of affordable units and market-rate units.”

This amendment specifically mentions affordable and market rates for Type A unit dispersion, which was not previously written into the code. The enforcement of this particular section of the code falls under the jurisdiction of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). MAPS has had conversations with MOPD to discuss how the amended code will be applied, the following information is from those conversations.

It is our understanding that MOPD will be enforcing the requirement that all affordable units, required by the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) have to be designed as Type A dwelling units. While the ARO is enforced by the Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) and not MOPD, the technical standards manual states that DOH projects have to meet both DOH and MOPD accessibility requirements.

As for the dispersion of Type A units among the market rate units, MOPD will no longer allow the affordable units that are Type A to be counted towards the total 20% of Type A units on a project site. 20% of the market rate units on site shall be Type A units, which is to be calculated separately from the affordable units.

For example, there are one hundred dwelling units on a residential project, and there are ten affordable units. The ten affordable units shall be designed as Type A units. Out of the remaining ninety market rate units, 20% shall be Type A, for a total of eighteen Type A units.

If we add these numbers together, there will be a total of 28 dwelling units designed to meet the 2019 Chicago Building Code & ANSI A117.1-2009 Type A requirements.

Is this applicable to your project?

  • If the 2021 Affordable Requirements Ordinance doesn’t apply to your project, then you are not required to provide affordable units and there are no changes to calculating the 20% of Type A units.
  • If the 2021 Affordable Requirements Ordinance does apply to your project, these dispersion changes would be in effect for your project. Any projects approved under the previous ARO are exempt from these changes to the code. However, any new projects approved for a building permit under the 2021 ARO would be required to meet these new dispersion requirements.

Please keep in mind that the 2021 Affordable Requirements Ordinance went into effect on October 1, 2021. The 2021 ARO includes a number of changes to the applicability triggers, the percentage of units required, and the number of units required to be built. Specific to this last item, the 2021 ARO reduces the total number of units that can be waived by paying a fee. Meaning an increase in the number of affordable units that have to be built.

We understand this is a big change to residential projects in all aspects of the design, construction, and sales process. A possible way to address this may be to design more units on a project with Type A space considerations in mind so that Type B units can be more easily made into a Type A unit configuration. This may mean designing units from the start to take into account door maneuvering clearances and the extra space needed for Type A bathrooms to meet clearance requirements. However, this is not an ideal solution for all projects, and would only be a recommendation.

The enforcement of Type A unit requirements is within the local jurisdiction of MOPD. How and to what extent MOPD chooses to enforce these changes to dwelling unit dispersion is subject to change. If you have concerns about these changes affecting the units on your upcoming project, we strongly advise having a discussion with MOPD.

Please feel free to reach out to MAPS if you have any questions regarding these Type A unit changes. If you need help designing your Type A dwelling units, we can perform plan reviews or provide accessibility suggestions on an as-needed basis.