Andrés Lemus-Spont, Tony Adams and Nikita Wu discuss McKinley Park neighborhood development ideas at one of the interactive exhibit tables during the CMAP Neighborhood Plan Workshop on Wednesday, May 15, at the National Latino Education Institute.

Neighborhood Plan Advances at CMAP Workshop

Published May 16, 2019

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan Cover2The McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan is now online! Click here to read the plan.The neighborhood plan project for McKinley Park took a big step forward on Wednesday, May 15, at the CMAP Neighborhood Plan Workshop held at the National Latino Education Institute. The release of the eagerly awaited Existing Conditions Report paired with an interactive workshop to again solicit feedback and ideas from the community to inform the full and final plan, slated for release in late 2019.

Ricardo Lopez, project lead and facilitator from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), led the presentation and explained how the Existing Conditions Report includes "key takeaways" from the past 15 months of work on the project, much based on direct community outreach and research. "It's how you envision McKinley Park in the next five to 10 years," he said.

CMAP neighborhood plan meeting 20190515 Ricardo Lopez presentingRicardo Lopez explains the CMAP neighborhood plan at the workshop on Wednesday, May 15.Following Lopez's presentation, the close-to-capacity crowd of nearly 90 participants split up to wander amongst and engage with interactive exhibits soliciting feedback on community topics like neighborhood identity and development of industrial and commercial corridors. Participants were able to weigh in on the importance of topics by casting votes and also posting their comments and ideas on several "vision boards."

During his introduction, Lopez cited several examples of the types of discoveries uncovered thus far during the plan process, all which are detailed in the Existing Conditions Report. For example, whereas the Chicago area overall has been losing population, McKinley Park has increased the number of its residents. "It's not a lot, but it's still growth," Lopez said.

 
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An Executive Summary for the Existing Conditions Report offers a high-level overview of the project and the draft report, including project history, plan goals and outreach methods. The key findings it outlines tie into issues of diversity, reinvestment, mobility, modernization and environmental resilience. It notes the next step of developing a "shared vision" for the community that will then be used to inform plan recommendations.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan CMAP Existing Conditions Report TOD figureA figure from the Existing Conditions Report illustrates how the bulk of the McKinley Park neighborhood now falls within Transit-Oriented Development zones.The CMAP neighborhood plan for McKinley Park is a project of the McKinley Park Development Council that the council won in 2017. Although most of the cost is covered via the professional resources that CMAP brings into the project, the development council is still responsible for raising $15,000 toward project costs. At the workshop, council Vice President Dayna Calderon presented Lopez with a check for the first payment of half the amount, raised by the council through its work as a neighborhood non-profit organization.

The Existing Conditions Report

The draft Existing Conditions Report is a treasure trove of community data and analysis. Its contents offer not only summaries of the community priorities identified during project research, but also a detailed accounting of where responsibilities lie for critical areas of civic infrastructure, community maintenance, development and decision-making. Detailed citations and references offer jumping-off points to related community research and planning, such as the Great Rivers Chicago vision for Bubbly Creek.

The report states that it provides an overview of current neighborhood conditions and "is designed to provide a collaborative starting point from which to move forward ... in developing a shared vision for the McKinley Park community." One of its findings is that residents highly value the diversity of race and income found in McKinley Park, supported by a diversity of residential housing stock that creates a "ladder" of opportunity.

"Overall, the diversity of housing options in McKinley Park has been a source of stability, allowing residents who may initially rent smaller units to move up to larger units, and eventually to homeownership," the report said.

Resilience against flooding and storm water management were issues tied to climate change identified for the planning project, Lopez said. "Planning for climate change is important," he said.

Modernization of the area's industrial uses dovetailed off concerns related to the close proximity of industry to residents. "The community envisions a new direction for industrial uses and sees public engagement in the development process essential to realizing that vision," the report stated.

CMAP neighborhood plan meeting 20190515 workshop discussion table2Workshop participants engage with exhibits about the McKinley Park neighborhood's commercial corridors and Transit-Oriented Development.Mobility issues were another area identified as an opportunity to take advantage of the McKinley Park neighborhood's great transportation infrastructure, although areas of needed improvement were identified for pedestrians and bikers. As the City of Chicago rolls out more options for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), the plan noted strategies to guide development that is equitable and that will mitigate housing affordability issues caused by gentrification.

"The plan will use an eTOD framework that measures the social and economic impacts of development near transit areas to help keep the neighborhood affordable," the report said, "while still enjoying the benefits of transit-oriented redevelopment and economic development."

A Neighborhood Plan in 2019

According to the project timeline, the full neighborhood plan is slated for release this year, following another period of outreach, research, feedback and planning. Another public open house-style event ala the May 15 workshop is slated for October 2019, with plan completion and approval by the end of the year. After that, it's up to the community and its residents, organizations, stakeholders and leaders to implement the plan, Lopez said.

Anyone who is interested in getting more information or participating in neighborhood development planning is welcome to get involved with the McKinley Park Development Council, which is shepherding the project and meets monthly on the third Wednesday of the month. The next McKinley Park Development Council Meeting is slated for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, at Bethany Baptist Church.

CMAP neighborhood plan meeting 20190515 attendees seated2Nealy 90 people attended and participated in the neighborhood planning workshop on Wednesday, May 15, at the National Latino Education Institute.


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