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August Media Tips

Presidential Surrogates to Keynote MPC 2008 Annual Luncheon

Each year, the MPC Annual Luncheon convenes influential decision-makers in metropolitan Chicago, Illinois, and the nation to highlight key issues facing the region. At this year’s event, taking place Monday, Sept. 8, in Chicago , MPC will host surrogates for presidential candidates Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, who will discuss the candidates’ plans and priorities for supporting transportation, housing and economic development in the nation’s metropolitan regions. Henry Cisneros, executive chairman of the CityView companies, former San Antonio mayor, and former Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, will serve as the surrogate for Sen. Obama. Sen. McCain’s surrogate is to be announced.

MPC’s Annual Luncheon will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr. , Chicago , on Monday, Sept. 8, starting with a reception at 11 a.m., followed by the luncheon from noon to 1:45 p.m. Attendees can register on MPC’s Web site . Reporters interested in attending the luncheon should contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC assistant communications director, at 312.863.6018, or mburrell@metroplanning.org .

Web Site Rates ‘Walkability’ of Neighborhoods in Chicago, Nation

Chris Platano is no stranger to hoofing it: he routinely runs more than 20 miles a week while training as a member of the Willamette University track and field team in Salem , Ore. Yet it wasn’t until this summer, when 20-year-old Platano lived in downtown Chicago and interned at MPC, that he realized just how much he could rely on the “heel-toe express” to get him where he needs to go.

“Growing up in my hometown in Oregon, I never considered how car dependent we were,” said Platano. “But after spending a summer here in Chicago, I’ve learned just how beneficial living in an urban area can be.”

To test his theory, Platano visited the Walk Score Web site, where users rate the “walkability” of a specific place on a scale from 1 to 100, by simply typing in an address. Platano plugged in his childhood address, which rated a 6. He was shocked to learn his Chicago address netted a perfect 100! (Not every Chicago neighborhood rates so highly, however.)

With gas prices climbing and people spending more time than ever stuck in traffic – as evidenced by MPC’s latest report Moving at the Speed of Congestion – tools and resources promoting less car-dependent lifestyles are in high demand. According to its creators, the Walk Score Web site is being used by everyone from real estate agents to would-be business owners to determine just how walkable a particular community is.

For more information about how to calculate your community’s Walk Score, or the MPC Moving at the Speed of Congestion report, released Aug. 5, please contact Mandy Burrell Booth, assistant communications director, at 312.863.6018, or mburrell@metroplanning.org .

Is It Time Region Went Back to the Drawing Board to Fix Housing Market?

As the housing market continues to set records for all the wrong reasons, the need for a turnaround grows more urgent every day. “Back to the Drawing Board? Revisiting Local Housing Strategies During the Market Meltdown,” an MPC roundtable luncheon, is an opportunity to reassess some of the housing policy initiatives the region has relied upon in recent years.

A panel will discuss suburban workforce housing, the Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation, employer-assisted housing, and other strategies that may need to be retooled to ensure the region remains competitive. The panel will feature Lynn Ross, director of local and state initiatives, National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy; Joe Williams, co-chairman, Granite Companies, LLC, and MPC Resource Board member; Stacie Young, Interagency Council director, Preservation Compact, DePaul University Department of Real Estate; and Oak Park Village President David Pope. Mindy Turbov, president, Turbov Associates, will moderate. The luncheon takes place Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Federal Reserve Bank, 230 S. LaSalle St. , Michael Moskow Auditorium, 3rd floor, Chicago.

The roundtable is hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank, with underwriting from Washington Mutual. Online registration is encouraged, and is available on MPC’s Web site. Reporters interested in attending should contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC assistant communications director, at 312.863.6018, or mburrell@metroplanning.org .

Open House for Pacesetter/Whistler Crossing Redevelopment Project

On Thursday, Aug. 21, the Village of Riverdale will take the next step in what the city’s Mayor Zenovia Evans calls the “beginning of quality housing for working families” in Riverdale. That morning, the city will host an open house to provide a peek at the newly redeveloped, 397-unit Pacesetter townhome community, which has been more than five years in the making.

The $38 million redevelopment project converted Pacesetter – built in the 1950s to attract employees of the nearby Acme Steel Mill, but eventually isolated from the rest of Riverdale and known as a hotbed for drugs and crime – into Whistler Crossing. The new mixed-income, mixed-use community offers both for-sale and rental housing options to current and future residents, and represents more than a half a decade of collaboration between Riverdale and many key partners, including MPC, Urban Land Institute-Chicago, Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation, and Turnstone Development.

The Whistler Crossing Open House will take place Thursday, Aug. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon, at 13711 S. Lowe Ave , Riverdale. For more information regarding Whistler Crossing, please contact Joanna Trotter, manager of MPC’s Community Building Initiative, at 312.863.6008, or jtrotter@metroplanning.org .

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