On April 8, members were led through an informative review of the 2009 Central Area Action Plan by Lori Healey, CEO, Tur Partners LLC,Jon DeVries, Director, Roosevelt University Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, and Robert McKenna, Assistant Commissioner, Chicago Department of Planning & Development. The meeting was hosted by Donald Resnick, Partner, Jenner & Block at the firm's 353 North Dearborn Street office.
Healey noted that the Central Area Action Plan was created during the time of Chicago’s mid-2000s Olympic bid, and demonstrated that Chicago doesn’t just create plans, we create action plans.
DeVries led members through a Powerpoint presentation summarizing Chicago’s major Central Area planning efforts since the time of the CCAC’s founding in 1956. CCAC had an involvement in all such efforts, including the 2003 Central Area Plan, which concluded that a lack of intra-city transit capacity was the main limiting factor to Central Area development. The subsequent Central Area Action Plan represented the implementation phase, and made key recommendations in the areas of Economic Development and Land Use, Transportation, and Urban Design and Waterfront. However, the implementation phase stalled due to economic and political factors.
McKenna reviewed several major planning projects that did manage to move forward, including the rebuilding of Wacker Drive, Congress Parkway, and the Wells Street Bridge, the completion of Ping Tom Park in Chinatown, the renovation of CTA stations in the Central Area and the building of new stations, and the roll-out of the Divvy bike system, as well as in-progress plans such as the Loop BRT project, the “Elevate Chicago” expansion of McCormick Place, the westward extension of the Chicago Riverwalk, the Navy Pier Lakefront Trail flyover, the Wells-Wentworth connector/Wentworth Avenue realignment in Chinatown, and Union Station intermodal upgrades.
The meeting ended with a discussion of potential projects for the CCAC to consider supporting. Chief among these were the possibility for CCAC to assist the Department of Planning and Development in updating demographic figures for the Central Area planning sector (in conjunction with the Chicago Community Trust), and the potential endorsement of a newly launched effort by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the Active Transportation Alliance, and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle to create a dedicated revenue stream for transportation improvement projects.