March 18 2013

Planning for the Sustainable Revitalization of Chicago’s Neighborhoods

What is the most effective method for rejuvenating neighborhoods that have seen chronic underinvestment for generations? This is a daunting question that major cities across the United States have struggled to answer for decades.  While there may be no easy answer, the City of Chicago believes that they have developed a unique approach that will allow them to initiate a lasting renaissance in some of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The City of Chicago partnered with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the official regional urban planning organization for northeastern Illinois, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC/Chicago), a local association that organizes capital to invest in comprehensive development programs throughout the city, to create the Green Healthy Neighborhood Land Use Plan.  The land use plan is “intended to better target public and private investments in the most efficient and effective way by focusing on a number of topics that will include housing, commercial uses, transportation, urban agriculture, green infrastructure, and cultural and historic community resources.”

While the idea of utilizing comprehensive urban planning to spark the rebirth of an area is hardly new, the extent to which the City of Chicago is utilizing existing community groups and organizations, as well as drawing on past experiences, is unique. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, “this project will examine a variety of models for neighborhood reinvestment that build on existing neighborhood assets as catalysts for broader investment and redevelopment.”

Green Healthy Neighbrhoods Project Area

The planning process was initiated in March of 2011, when staff from the City of Chicago met with members of CMAP and LISC/Chicago to discuss how to best go about creating a land use plan for the Englewood, Woodlawn, and Washington Park neighborhoods.  An existing conditions report was released in November of 2011, displaying all of the data that had been collected, relevant plans and reports, as well as a summary of outreach with community stakeholders.  Using the information collected in the existing conditions report, the Green Healthy Neighborhood Land Use Plan will make strategic recommendations based on the following issues:

  • Green Infrastructure;
  • Historic Resources;
  • Industrial;
  • Land Use and Housing;
  • Parks and Trails;
  • Productive Landscape;
  • And Retail.

The final Green Healthy Neighborhood Land Use Plan will be presented at a community open house the Urban Prep-Englewood Campus in Chicago on March 27, 2013.

What do you think about using urban planning as a catalyst for sustainable community revitalization?

Credits: Image by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  Data linked to sources.

Sean Glowacz

Sean Glowacz holds a Masters of Urban Planning and Public Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sean spent two years at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning as a Research Assistant. His work focused on various tasks related to the GO TO 2040 plan, the comprehensive regional plan to help Chicagoland’s seven counties and 284 communities plan for sustainable prosperity through mid-century and beyond. Sean was then employed by Kane County for three years as a Land Use Planner, primarily working on their Quality of Kane campaign, an effort to help bring Healthy People, Healthy Living, and Healthy Communities to Kane County through cutting-edge planning policies and practices. Currently, Sean is employed by Target Group, Inc., working on large scale economic development projects in the City of Chicago. Currently residing in Chicago, Sean introduced readers to an array of urban planning projects that are taking place throughout the Chicagoland area.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 18th, 2013 at 9:57 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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