Advisory Services Panel – Revere School Community, Chicago IL


Date: June 21–26, 2009

Location: Chicago, IL

Sponsor: City of Chicago and the Comer Science and Education Foundation,

Chair: Toni L. Griffin

Subject Area: Regional Growth and Planning, Public Infrastructure

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The Assignment

In 2007, the Neighborhood Capital Institute facilitated a redevelopment planning process for the residents of the Revere School neighborhood. The residents identified priorities for the redevelopment of their neighborhood. CSEF wants to support future redevelopment activity but does not want to be in the position of “master developer” for the neighborhood. Nevertheless, it has made serious investments of time, money, and staffing to create a strong youth and education education agenda, as well as community development initiatives around housing, beautification, and job training. CSEF now wants a strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of its current investments and to make sure that future development projects continue to stabilize and improve the area.

The Leadership Team asked the ULI panel to make recommendations that will lay the groundwork for the next phase of redevelopment, including a clear idea of future land uses, targeted redevelopment projects, and defined roles for each player in the neighborhood’s redevelopment. In particular, the panel was asked to address the questions in the following sections.

Summary of Recommendations

All stakeholders must come together and actively engage in creating a shared vision to achieve the desired neighborhood improvement outcomes. This activity includes involving homeowners and renters, long-term and new residents, and residents of Leigh Johnson Court Apartments; community members of all ages; CSEF representatives; business and property owners; elected officials; and staff from the city agencies, the park district, and the public school district. A well-organized and reliable community-based entity must emerge as an active partner to work with the public, private, and philanthropic partners already in place to implement the vision.

Promote Resident Advancement and Wealth Creation

The current residents of the Revere School Community have the most to gain from the planned improvements. Efforts should be targeted to ensure their access to current and newly created opportunities. Improving the residents’ quality of- life issues should be the backbone of future investments made in the community.

Leverage and Sustain the Investments of the Comer Science and Education Foundation

As with any philanthropic organization today, CSEF must be strategic in its decision making about future investments. Although the foundation is firm in its commitment to remain an active partner in the Revere community, foundation leaders are clear in their need to focus their priorities around education. To this end, CSEF needs a strategic plan for future investments that includes provisions for financial and management sustainability and a real estate strategy for the remaining land portfolio.

Make Education the Neighborhood Anchor: “Live Where You Learn”

CSEF’s most significant contribution and commitment have been in education, specifically targeted to the neighborhood’s school-age children. The foundation appears committed to expanding this involvement to include early education, post–high school, and adult-learning opportunities. This commitment offers an extraordinary opportunity for the neighborhood to become a lifelong learning environment for residents and others from outside the community.

Reclaim the “Heart” of the Neighborhood

The central location of Hoard Park and its adjacency to the education core of the neighborhood along 72nd Street make it ideal for reestablishing a civic “heart” of the neighborhood, creating a safe place for children and adults to play and gather.

Transform the “Edges” of the Neighborhood into “Front Doors”

The neighborhood has three primary points of entry: the intersection of 71st Street, South Chicago Avenue, and Cottage Grove Avenue; the intersection of South Chicago Avenue and 75th Street; and 71st Street and the Metra line. These arrival points and the corridors they punctuate could be redesigned to promote a distinctive and high-quality image of the neighborhood through improved lighting, landscaping, and other traditional streetscape enhancements, as well as the development of appropriate uses and quality of architecture.

Make Walking and Playing Safe Again

Creating a safer neighborhood requires a multifaceted, multipartner approach. Key strategies should be used to promote a safe environment and defensible spaces throughout the neighborhood.

Integrate Sustainable Neighborhood Principles

Chicago is one of the leading cities in the nation for progressive policies on climate change. From green infrastructure projects to regulatory frameworks, Chicago has executed sustainable development at every level. The Revere School Community should be a showcase for neighborhood sustainability initiatives.

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