Posts tagged with "metropolitan planning council":

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Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel floats ordinance to fast-track transit-oriented development, reduce parking minimums

This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will push a plan to expand transit-oriented development (TOD) by easing zoning restrictions and releasing certain projects from parking requirements altogether. The city already has an ordinance providing for transit-oriented development and, as AN has previously reported, several projects have rushed to take advantage of it. Mixed-use developments with dozens of new housing units have slashed their parking lots, avoiding a longstanding code requirement that they provide one spot for every unit by building near transit stations. Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) gave the proposed changes a favorable preliminary analysis, building off its own “TOD calculator” which the agency released recently in order to spur private developers into building on dozens of properties it labeled “ready for TOD.” Emanuel's new ordinance would give developers of such projects more opportunities to reduce their investment in parking. Here are the changes City Council members will vote on Wednesday, according to the mayor's press office:
• TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street. • A 100 percent reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking. • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law. • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site.
(Metropolitan Planning Council) image-full
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Chicago wants your ideas for the future of the Chicago River

What's downstream for the Chicago River? Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week directed a panel of experts to draft a long-term plan for the network of Chicago-area waterways, announcing $350,000 in grants from the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and steel company ArcelorMittal to start a project dubbed “Great Rivers Chicago.” With the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk well underway—the Sasaki Associates–led project is supposed to open its first portions over Memorial Day weekend—the river is enjoying a surge of attention once unimaginable for a body of water better known historically for its pollution than its public space. Over the next 15 months, however, the city-appointed group—the Metropolitan Planning Council and Friends of the Chicago River, as well as “topical experts and community stakeholders”—will seek ideas for all the rivers that comprise the subwatershed known as the Chicago Area Waterway System, including the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Cal-Sag Channel, and the Calumet Rivers. The city launched a website, greatriverschicago.com, which so far just lists facts about the area's rivers and links to a survey meant to inform their future planning process. It asks Chicagoans to describe their current interaction with the river system, and how they'd like that to change. (The full riverwalk team includes lead architects Ross Barney Architects, as well as Jacobs Ryan Associates, Alfred Benesch & Company, and Schuler & Shook, in addition to Sasaki Associates.)
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Cook County mulls options for long-abandoned, beaux-arts hospital in Chicago

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle briefly took the lectern at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Tuesday night to welcome presentations on the future of an infamous white elephant structure on the city's near West Side: the old Cook County Hospital building. “We believe that this building has inherent value,” Preckwinkle said, “and that a thoughtful process like this can help unlock that value.” CAF asked the public through social media what they wanted to see on the site, which stands vacant in the Illinois Medical District along the Eisenhower Expressway. Apartments, affordable housing, and preservation of the 1914 structure scored highly among the 355 respondents of their informal survey. Although the building won recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, its southern wings were demolished in 2008. Its ornate beaux-arts facade remains along the 1800 block of West Harrison Street, retaining a physical link to its storied place in medical history as the country's first blood bank and a haven for the city's booming immigrant population. CAF's Lynn Osmond called the redevelopment of Cook County Hospital “a win-win opportunity” for the public and potential developers. The team convened by CAF fleshed out two scenarios, which they said could be fully funded by a private developer. “Adaptive reuse will put 526 more people back to work than a new construction option,” Osmond said. Their plan called for first floor retail and either office or mixed-income residential development in the floors above. The office option totaled 243,000 square feet of office space at about $20 per square foot rent, leaving 31,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. The residential option called for 302 units, (25 percent of which would be reserved for affordable housing) and also kept retail on the first floor. Another plan by the Chicago Central Area Committee reached out beyond the walls of the hospital itself, proposing a campus-scale redevelopment of the immediate area with new transit hubs, programmed park space and the construction of office and hotel towers nearby. You can view each team's presentation and read more about the hospital's redevelopment here. The County says it intends to issue RFPs for redevelopment of the area in “fall 2014.”
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Chicago Placemaking Festival Aims to teach Old Places New Tricks

In a few short years, the term placemaking has migrated from wonky urban planning circles to neighborhoods across the country—that communities come together around public space is no groundbreaking observation, but when successful the idea can be revolutionary on a local scale. So hopes Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, who this weekend will sponsor “Old Place New Tricks,” a bid to “activate” neighborhoods from Englewood to Ravenswood with public space interventions that range from a “healthy eating happy hour” to “Selfie Sunday.” In all 18 events will rally neighborhoods across the city (and in the suburb of Blue Island), starting today and running through Sunday. MPC put together a map of them, which you can explore here. “Placemaking gives people the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time,” said MPC’s Kara Riggio in a statement. “We at MPC hope this challenge provides communities an opportunity to tackle those vacant or underused spaces they've been eyeing for a while. Most of all, though, we hope it's a chance for people to get together with friends and neighbors for a great summer event!” No one’s under the illusion that pop-up art installations and weekend get-togethers can untangle the mess of problems plaguing many Chicago neighborhoods, but there’s hope that a community event focused on violence prevention in Austin, for example, or a peace-themed conference in Englewood may constitute a good start.
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Blobs, Turf, and High-Slung Hammocks Among Chicago’s “Active Union Station” Winners

The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago announced the winners of its “Active Union Station” competition, which is meant to enliven the railroad hub's underused public spaces. Although it’s the nation’s third busiest train station and gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago's Union Station remains basically a waypoint on a longer trip. Two winners and a runner-up hope to change that. “Blah Blah Blob!” will take over the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, and “trainYARD” will sprout in the Great Hall. “I Searched High and Low for You” is the runner-up. The visual inspiration for Latent Design & Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s “Blah Blah Blob!” is, in part, the rip-stop nylon canvas elementary school teachers used to inflate around giddy students during recess. “Remember how much fun this was?” asks the entry’s visual plan. “Yeah, you do.” Astroturf completes the experience inside the brightly colored blob, which will move around the plaza throughout the exhibit’s duration. “trainYARD” brings the park lawn indoors, “putting it right in the middle of their daily routine.” The design by SPACETIME includes recycled-grass areas for tetherball, croquet and bocce, as well as picnic tables and lawn chairs. Runner-up “I Searched High and Low for You,” by Ann Lui and Craig Reschke, envisions a slew of red hammocks along Union Station’s Canal Street arcade, slung over a row of what appear to be floating orbs high overhead. Their appearance would be striking, acting as a “beacon for the city,” and a gallery of hammocks — not to mention their almost sculptural accent to the arcade’s parade of columns — would bring some activity to a lonely corridor. View the full list of entries here. The winners will receive $5,000 to implement their ideas between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2. Fifth Third Bank sponsored the competition, which served as the Metropolitan Planning Council’s fifth annual Placemaking Contest.