Third annual mayors and homebuilders forum offers glimpse at possible collaborations - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Third annual mayors and homebuilders forum offers glimpse at possible collaborations

More than 60 regional mayors and homebuilders gather in Schaumburg in December to discuss strategies for cooperation and partnerships on housing.

Cooperation was the theme of the day when, for the third time in as many years, municipalities and homebuilders gathered at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg campus for an unique conversation on the subject of building and preserving an array of housing options for the region's diverse population.  More than 60 elected officials and developers attended the forum, entitled "Cooperation and Partnerships: A Conversation with Mayors and Developers on Innovative, Collaborative Strategies for Getting Deals Done."  As in past years, the event was co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Council, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, Illinois Housing Council and Roosevelt University's Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate.

To give participants a feel for tackling a development scenario that is becoming all too familiar in the Chicago region, they were asked to plan a housing deelopment in Oakwood, a fictional suburban community with an aging rental development in need of redevelopment (rendering below).  Participants were assigned a role - mayor, market-rate developer, affordable housing developer, etc. - and challenged to create a deal that met with approval.  They were provided with several new tools, the "Good Housing, Good Schools" bonus, IHDA's new "AHPAA-At-Risk" Point, and an interjurisdictional housing trust fund (similar to the ARCH model from Washington state), as well as more standard options such as Tax Increment Financing, land donation, and density bonuses.

Previous forums also stressed the value of cooperation, but this year's session was a valuable exercise in forming partnerships and hammering out the give-and-take needed to create consensus.  In parting, participants received a draft chapter from the upcoming Housing 1-2-3: A Workbook for Local Officials and Community Leaders and were asked to review it through the lens of the day.  The chapter detailed past collaborations from around the region, such as Highland Park's Hyacinth Place (pictured below), a 14-home, mixed-income development that resulted from a partnership between the Highland Park Community Land Trust, Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, and Brinshore Development.

After 90 minutes of avid discussion, each group had reached consensus.  While each group produced a unique deal, there were several similarities between them:

  • They preserved rental opportunities, but created a greater mix of homes and wider price range.
  • Local employers invested in their workforce through Employer-Assisted Housing.
  • Transit-oriented development effectively captured the real estate value of transit stations.
  • New and old incentives, when paired, reduced overall development costs and produced a healthy bottom line.
  • New tools, particularly the "Good Housing, Good Schools" bonus and the interjurisidictional housing trust fund, were very effectively used to build community support and leverage needed resources.
  • Market-rate and affordable housing developers partnered to create mixed-income, and often mixed-use, housing opportunities.
  • When possible, existing buildings were preserved or rehabilitated.
  • Cooperation between the public and private spheres was an effective strategy for building and preserving affordable homes.

For more information on this annual series or on Housing 1-2-3, contact Josh Ellis, MPC community development associate, at (312) 863-6045 or; or Beth Dever, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus housing director, at (312) 201-4507 or


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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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