January 2012 www.metroplanning.org

This Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the nation, with a clear focus on strengthening the economy. “The state of our union is getting stronger,” said the President. “We’ve come too far to turn back now.”

Where We Stand

Cities and regions, including metropolitan Chicago, are confronting a new economic reality. The question is not whether we are ready for change; change is a necessity. What we need to ask is whether we are ready to usher in a new era of economic prosperity by confronting this change with forward-thinking planning; creative, coordinated solutions forged by consensus; and criteria to measure return on investment. 

MPC is ready, and our 2012 Plan for Prosperity, Innovative Solutions for the New Normal, sets forth an ambitious agenda based on tested ideas to bolster the region’s economy. The document, available at www.metroplanning.org/2012planforprosperity, identifies 10 policy, planning and development reforms MPC is pursuing in 2012. Highlights include connecting Chicagoans to jobs, services and destinations along priority Bus Rapid Transit routes; providing incentives to communities and agencies collaborating to solve shared development challenges; and improving sustainable water management practices through green infrastructure.

By rethinking how we invest in communities and our region, harnessing technology to strengthen our infrastructure, and rewarding efficiency to make better and more coordinated use of resources, we can strengthen metropolitan Chicago’s economy and quality of life. Throughout 2012, MPC will work with partners from all sectors - business, government, community, civic, and philanthropy - to shape, refine and advance these plans. We invite you to join us in shaping the new economy.


Project Progress Report: Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant program, in 2012, residents and business owners along a portion of Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood will be eligible to apply for funding to support property improvements that reduce neighborhood flooding and protect Chicago’s waterways. MPC is partnering with Ald. Rey Colón and the 35th Ward office to help lead this pilot project to demonstrate how clustering green infrastructure investments can make a measurable difference.

To kick off the project, Ald. Colón and MPC are inviting local designers and artists to enter a contest to create the logo and branding identity for the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor. The winning designer will receive $100 cash and a $50 gift card to Logan Square’s own Revolution Brewing. The winning design will be displayed on street signs and banners, the LoganSquareH2o.org web site, and other promotional materials. The deadline to submit entries is Feb. 15, 2012, at 4 p.m. 


Principles of Placemaking

The failing economy has temporarily halted plans for a new condominium development along Washington Blvd., in Westhaven Park, but that didn’t idle the residents of this revitalized mixed-income housing community on Chicago’s Near West Side. Starting with a few perennial plants, and support and funding from GreenCorps and Brinshore (Westhaven Park’s developer), they have filled half of the 100’x130’ lot with 23 raised organic vegetable beds. The other half is a park, designed and constructed by a group of local teens.

More than just yielding healthy vegetables, the Westhaven Park Community Garden has borne an authentic sense of community that many of the Plan for Transformation mixed-income sites have struggled to create. According to Resident Services Coordinator Lisa Young, the garden is the “most tangible way in which people of all spectrums connect together.” She believes that interactions there happen organically, and the connections made go beyond surface level.


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Housing + Community Development



Upcoming events

Feb 7 Cook County Vacant Building Ordinance Seminar 1:30 PM–3:30 AM

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MPC in the News

Deal for distressed homes aids south suburbs
Chicago Real Estate Daily, Jan. 19, 2012


Many drivers say no to higher tolls
Chicago Tribune, Jan. 17, 2012


Uncle Sam, listing agent
Chicago Real Estate Daily, Jan. 10, 2012


Commission debates Elgin-Aurora bus rapid transit
Daily Herald, Jan. 6, 2012


Study of Waterways Stirs Debate on Roles in the Region’s Future
New York Times, Dec. 31, 2011


News of Interest

'I Hate the Blue Line' and Other Things Transit Systems Can Learn From Twitter
The Atlantic Cities, Jan. 25, 2012


SOTU: Is Obama Retreating on Infrastructure?
Streetsblog, Jan. 25, 2012


The State of Housing
National Housing Conference Open House Blog, Jan. 25, 2012


Elgin welcomes first buyer of home remodeled by city
Daily Herald, Jan. 19, 2012

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