The Campaign for Sensible Growth and Urban
Land Institute (ULI) Chicago released the results of recent technical assistance
panels (TAPs) they conducted in Park Forest and Riverdale, Ill. While the
communities’ challenges — converting a regional mall into a thriving downtown in
Park Forest and improving a deteriorating housing complex in Riverdale — are
specific to each village, their solutions can be applied broadly throughout the
The Campaign and ULI Chicago have been partners on
locally requested TAPs since 2001, and the concept is catching on.
“The TAP process gives communities access to the
expertise of real estate, planning and development professionals,” said Ellen
Shubart, manager of the Campaign. “And, the whole region benefits from the
opportunity to put sensible growth principles into practice. Each TAP provides a
lens into how policy works in the real world, and a case study for how to
approach similar problems successfully in other communities.”
Building on the Legacy: Creating a New DownTown
released Oct. 1, recommends reinvigorating the site of Park Forest’s mall as a
downtown with a more dynamic mix of uses.
The TAP suggests concentrating the amount of retail space by clustering
shops of similar types, and freeing up space to develop 325 new homes downtown
to yield as many as 700 new shoppers.
like to start implementing these things tomorrow,” said Park Forest Village
President John Ostenberg.
biggest handicap is cost.” Like other municipalities in Cook County, Park Forest
has high property tax rates, which makes attracting development a
The panel suggested a
variety of funding sources, including Community Development Block Grants, so
that the community might avoid tapping into general revenues to jump-start
Vision for the Pacesetter Neighborhood, also released Oct. 1, makes the
that Riverdale turn around its
Pacesetter housing complex by
helping low-income renters
buy their homes, to give them a stake in the community.
The panel emphasized the importance of providing social services — not simply financing
— to participating Pacesetter residents, many of whom had relocated from
apartments within the Chicago Housing Authority.
“Successful housing is far more than physical
shelter,” said Riverdale Panelist John Powell, a vice president for the Fannie
“Things like social
services and ‘greening up’ the area to make it a better place to live will be
vital to the success of these plans.”
special arrangement, the Campaign and ULI Chicago volunteers will follow up with
the Village of Riverdale throughout the coming year to guide implementation of
its TAP recommendations.
The Campaign and ULI Chicago have joined together on
TAPs in northeastern Illinois because such technical assistance furthers both
organizations’ goals of helping municipalities plan for growth with techniques
that make sensible use of existing infrastructure and preserve open space.
Information on the series of panels and past reports are available on the Campaign Web site
Progress in Highland Park demonstrates the
impact past TAPs have had. In
the City adopted a
requiring developers of projects with more than five units to include 20 percent
of the total units for sale or rent at rates affordable to income-qualified
. Highland Park also
established a home ownership program that makes homes available to people who
work in the city but cannot afford to live there. Both were recommendations made
in 2001 by a Campaign/ULI Chicago TAP. At that time, the North Shore suburb had
a median home sale price of $377,035, and was seeking strategies to create and
preserve a better range of housing types for local residents at various income
Urban Land Institute is a national, nonprofit education and research institute
that is supported by its members.
Its mission is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land in
order to enhance the total environment. ULI Chicago consists of more than 800
ULI members living and working in the Chicago region. One of the first ULI
District Councils formed, today it is one of the largest in the
Campaign for Sensible Growth is an action-oriented coalition of nearly 200
government, civic and business leaders in northeastern Illinois' six counties
(Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will) working to promote economic
development while preserving open space, minimizing the need for costly new
infrastructure, and improving the livability of our communities.