December Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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December Media Tips

Learn Why Hybrid Vehicles Won’t Save the Planet at Dec. 6 MPC Roundtable

Global warming has sent society’s conscientious consumers scrambling for low-carbon fuels and hybrid vehicles – but will these individual choices, however noble, add up to a more sustainable region? Not likely, according to Growing Cooler , a groundbreaking report recently published by the Urban Land Institute that pegs the cause of our ever-growing fuel dependency not on the type of car we drive or what we pump into it, but on development patterns leaving people with little choice but to drive more every year.

Growing Cooler author Reid Ewing ? a former Arizona state legislator turned professor at the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland — will present findings from his study at an MPC roundtable on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Mayer Brown, 71 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago. He’ll explain why community planning and design are critical to reducing the need to drive, and with it, carbon fuel emissions, a key contributor to global warming; and he’ll address how metropolitan Chicago and Illinois can do their part to halt our climate crisis. Randy Blankenhorn, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Sadhu Johnston, chief environmental officer of the City of Chicago, will respond to Reid’s findings and identify local applications.

Guests are required to register with Pam Lee at or 312-863-6011; or at MPC’s Web site, Cost is $15 for MPC members, $30 for nonmembers, and includes lunch. A picture I.D. is required to enter the building. Members of the media may attend at no cost and should contact MPC Communications Associate Mandy Burrell at or 312-863-6018.

Miracle on 138th Street: Riverdale Development Begins Long-Awaited Renovation

If you believe in miracles, this is your season – and this may be your story: officials in Riverdale have broken ground on the the multi-million dollar community redevelopment effort transforming one of the region’s poorest and most crime-ridden communities into the new, mixed-income community Whistler’s Crossing.

South suburban Riverdale – with an estimated population of 14, 418 –has long been known for its well-maintained single-family homes on tree-lined streets. Yet the 90 or so historic homes in a neighborhood once known as Pacesetter have long been deteriorated. What’s more, the entire community area north of 138 th Street, south of the rail yards, east of Lowe Avenue , and due west of Eggleston Avenue has been a hotbed for crime and poverty in an otherwise stable village.

The first phase of the project will consist of restoring the 90 homes and upgrading the wider community area. Whistler’s Crossing will be a mixed-income haven where businesses, homeowners, and renters can co-exist harmoniously. Riverdale Mayor Zenovia Evans – a former resident of Pacesetter – has called the community’s revitalization “a dream come true.”

To learn more about Whistler’s Crossing, contact MPC Community Building Initiative Manager Joanna Trotter, 312-863-6008, or .

HB 2353 Adds Affordable Housing to Illinois ’ Capital Investment Strategy

As the number of victims of mortgage foreclosures continues to rise, destabilizing renters as well as homeowners, the State of Illinois is taking a major step forward to combat the shortage of quality affordable housing options statewide. For the first time in state history, HB 2353 authorizes the Illinois Housing Development Authority to use state capital fund dollars to create and preserve affordable homes in Illinois for low-income and very low-income households.

“Ensuring every community in Illinois has a well-balanced housing stock benefits all of us, from businesses, hospitals and schools that rely on their employees being able to find homes near work, to families that don’t want to have to move further out to find a home they can afford,” said MPC Housing Director Robin Snyderman. “By making affordable housing preservation and development a key element in the state’s capital investment plan, Illinois has a tremendous opportunity to more strategically link the development of affordable homes to job centers and transportation options – hopefully reducing our congestion headaches as well!”

The bill was approved by the General Assembly in November and awaits the governor’s signature. Snyderman noted that the bill provides yet another impetus for state legislators to approve a new state capital plan to fund roads, bridges, transit, schools and, now, homes. The state’s last capital plan expired in 2004. For more information, contact Snyderman at 312-863-6007 or

Meet the MPC Staff
Connect with MPC Reconnecting Neighborhoods Manager Brandon Johnson

A native of Chicago ’s South Side, MPC’s Brandon Johnson is thrilled to be making a difference in his community – and two others on the city’s West and North sides – every day through his role as MPC project manager of Reconnecting Neighborhoods. The project, which kicked off in early November, invites residents of three mixed-income Chicago communities to participate in the planning for their future. The project will result in recommendations for enhanced transit services, retail, and improved public infrastructure in the Near North, Near West and Mid-South neighborhoods.

“Growing up on the South Side, I saw and encountered lots of problems related to housing, transportation, and commerce, so to actually have a chance to be part of the solution is an amazing opportunity,” said Johnson regarding his new role, which he began this July after spending two years with the Illinois General Assembly.

With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College and non-terminal studies in political and cultural theory at the University of Chicago , Johnson is well suited to coordinate Reconnecting Neighborhoods for MPC. The project is led by the City of Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, with support from the Regional Transportation Authority and MPC. HNTB, a planning firm, will handle the project’s technical work and research. Stay tuned in the coming months, when each community’s Local Task Force will hold a series of meetings to weigh in on community issues such as transportation, retail and job opportunities. Contact Johnson at 312-863-6046 or .

Learn more by contacting Mandy Burrell , MPC communications associate, at 312-863-6018 or , or by visiting .

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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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