Ribbon Cutting and Neighbor Night at Lathrop signals a new focus on revitalized green spaces and Riverwalk access - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Ribbon Cutting and Neighbor Night at Lathrop signals a new focus on revitalized green spaces and Riverwalk access

A renovated Lathrop, a revitalized campus, and a lively Riverwalk offer a promising model for creating beautiful, equitable residential spaces where people feel connected to each other and the surrounding environment.

The Chicago Community Trust is currently funding 11 community-led riverfront projects through their Our Great Rivers grant. This piece is part of our 2019 series highlighting these projects.

Last month more than 150 residents, community members, and stakeholders gathered under rainy skies for a celebratory ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Lathrop community. After hearing remarks from public officials and the development team, led by Related Midwest, the celebration kicked off.

The festivities were part of a Neighbor Night, held on Lathrop’s “Great Lawn” and featured food trucks, music, fall activities, and tours of the site’s redesigned campus as well as a model unit. The tours highlighted the recently completed, publicly accessible Riverwalk, extending a half mile along the Chicago River’s North Branch and connecting to Clybourn Avenue. The new Riverwalk includes robust native planting, a walking trail, and a boat launch, in addition to a riverside circular dog run.

A renovated Lathrop, a revitalized campus, and a lively Riverwalk are part of the first phase of the overall redevelopment of Lathrop Homes. This project is being led by Lathrop Community Partners (a partnership between Related MidwestHeartland AllianceBickerdike Redevelopment Corporation), Magellan Development GroupArdmore Associates, and the Chicago Housing Authority, and will ultimately provide 1,116 mixed-income apartments: 494 market-rate units, 222 affordable units, and 400 public housing units. 

The project’s proximity to the Chicago River provides an opportunity for residents of Lathrop and the surrounding communities to engage in water-based activities and become active stewards of the riverfront. Residents, community members and visitor can sit or picnic on the Great Lawn, enjoy walking or biking the Jimmy Thomas Nature Trail running alongside the river, or spend some time in a kayak or canoe, taking advantage of the new boat launch. Lathrop offers a promising model for creating beautiful, equitable residential spaces where people feel connected to each other and the surrounding environment.

October’s ribbon cutting was not the first event held at Lathrop to connect residents and neighbors to the river and outdoors. Over the summer, Lathrop Community Partners, with the support of Friends of the Chicago River, hosted kayaking sessions and gauged interest in environmental education on river plants and animals, children’s programs, storytelling, river cleanups, and other types of river advocacy. In June, younger residents were invited to take part in painting portions of the fence that were on display at the ribbon cutting around the newly installed playground.

In developing the programming for the Lathrop riverfront, Related Midwest, Heartland Housing and its partners, contribute to the vision of Our Great Rivers in a number of exciting ways. From  and enhancing river access for recreational purposes, to highlighting how the river can promote community and connecting surrounding neighborhoods through place-making opportunities, the long-term impact will be a well-maintained and well-loved river, and a strengthened sense of community. 

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