Robbins forges new interjurisdictional partnership to redevelop Metra stop - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Robbins forges new interjurisdictional partnership to redevelop Metra stop

Consistent with the recommendations of MPC’s Community Building Initiative Task Force, Robbins plans to collaborate with Blue Island to commit federal funds to the acquisition and development of the area around the Robbins Metra station.

At a time when communities across the country are struggling with the burden of foreclosed and vacant properties, two municipalities in southern Cook County are partnering to find solutions to their shared challenges.  The Village of Robbins is collaborating with the City of Blue Island to acquire and develop property around its Metra station, applying for collective federal funds to support the site’s redevelopment.  If approved, these funds – from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) – will be allocated to an interjurisdictional housing collaborative of 17 communities in Chicago’s south suburbs, which in turn will apply the NSP dollars to targeted areas like the Robbins Metra station. 

This interjurisdictional partnership is in keeping with recommendations from MPC’s recent report, “Robbins: Economic Development Vision and Strategy,” which examines Robbins’ current land uses and market potential, and offers planning and development strategies to prepare for future reinvestment.  The report is the most recent effort of MPC’s Community Building Initiative, and reflects the recommendations of a panel of real estate lawyers, stormwater professionals, architects, and other land use experts.  They recommended Robbins partner with neighboring Blue Island to develop around the Metra station, because – as it lies on the border between and serves both communities – they could streamline development with shared regulations and permitting, and would have a common interest in any new business activity and development.  Additionally, the report suggests such a partnership could give developers confidence in the commitment and vision of the two communities, thereby simplifying the process and offering them more security to take on the project.

The natural collaboration that formed out of this recommendation was facilitated by the joint funding from NSP, which directly encourages such interjurisdictional efforts to combat spates of foreclosed and vacant properties that do not often conform to municipal boundaries.  MPC has been a proponent of interjurisdictional coordination not only in the south suburbs, but in other parts of the region as well, through the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative.  The Robbins Metra station partnership was selected as one of two priority sites within several south suburban communities that are coordinating redevelopment and reinvestment with technical assistance from the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation (CSEDC), Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), and MPC. 

 The Robbins report includes other collaborative recommendations, such as empowering CSEDC to provide economy of scale – thereby expanding each community’s capacity – as well as following Green Design Guidelines to share regulations and organize “green” development efforts.  Other recommendations suggest surveying existing businesses to connect them to possible sites for expansion, and utilizing existing assets to focus commercial development on arterial corridors and preserve floodplains for neighborhood development.  The action Robbins has already taken to collaborate with Blue Island on funding the Metra station redevelopment demonstrates the efficacy and timeliness of forging interjurisdictional partnerships to face collective economic and community challenges.  

For more information on MPC’s work in Chicago’s south suburbs, contact Joanna Trotter at (312) 863-6008 or jtrotter@metroplanning.org, or Josh Ellis at (312) 863-6045 or jellis@metroplanning.org.

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