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Mapping investments in INVEST South/West areas

Published on Nov. 3, 2020 by Steven Vance

Updated on Nov. 5, 2020

Last week, Mayor Lightfoot acknowledged the one-year anniversary of her primary economic development initiative, called INVEST South/West. The program will direct hundreds of millions of already budgeted (or soon to be budgeted) infrastructure funds to 10 areas, offers one public RFP per area to develop city-owned land, and directs energy and attention to attract private investment.

The event took place at a new office building being constructed by Habitat Co. as part of a partnership between Mt. Sinai Hospital, Cinespace, and the Chicago Housing Authority. The development, called Ogden Commons, is in an Opportunity Zone and on CHA-owned land (site of the former Ogden Courts homes).

Planning department Commissioner Maurice Cox, speaking at last week’s event (10/26/20).

Where the INVEST South/West areas are

Given the geographic nature of the program, it should be somewhat easy to track outcomes, especially compared to neighborhoods and streets that are outside but similar to the ones in the INVEST South/West program.

Map of the 12 priority corridors.

I believe that every place is worth developing and I want to see the planning department succeed, so I’ve added all of the INVEST South/West areas as a type of “Place” in the Chicago Cityscape maps database.

And, because of a member’s request, I’ve also added the priority corridors as a separate type of “Place”. Each corridor can be viewed separately; for the two INVEST South/West areas that have two corridors, Humboldt Park and Greater Roseland, those can be viewed as a combined place.

Look at some maps, if you’re ready:

The purpose of INVEST South/West

The 10 areas include 13 community areas. Greater Englewood includes Englewood and West Englewood, and Greater Roseland includes Roseland, Pullman, and West Pullman. Within the 10 areas are 12 “priority corridors”, which represent primary commercial and retail streets in the areas.

From where I sit (in my home office, of course), this is doing business a bit differently than previous varieties of Chicago’s planning department, and I’m excited to watch how the current and future policies and investments pan out.

I’m encouraged by INVEST South/West because of the focused and coordinated nature of the initiative. Place-based investments work, according to a study of the focused initiatives in Pullman, largely led by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI).

Also in her acknowledgement, Mayor Lightfoot announced that 10 teams of local non-profit organizations that will serve as paid “corridor managers” (watch video).

In a press release, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar said, “Each manager will work with elected officials, local stakeholders, potential corridor investors and the Department of Planning and Development’s regional planning staff to provide unprecedented responsiveness and implementation resources for local needs.”

The map above shows the building permits issued to building owners and businesses, in 2020, within both priority corridors of the “Greater Roseland” INVEST South/West area.

What can you — a planner, a Chamber of Commerce executive, or a corridor manager — do with these maps?

Ask us for a coaching call and we can share how other community and economic development leaders are using this data. You can also sign up for a free 7-day trial (no credit card need).

I’ll list a few of the ideas we’ve talked over with some of our members:

  • Track building permits — if you’re really interested in understanding the potential impact of the INVEST S/W attention in an area, you can filter for building permits issued since a certain time
  • See proposed projects — this is information we summarize based on zoning changes that developers and property owners apply for
  • Instantly see which elected officials (city, county, state, and federal) represent which part of which area and corridor
  • Find development & financial incentives that are geographically based and overlapping an area or corridor
  • Map of land owned by City of Chicago and Cook County Land Bank Authority
  • Coming soon: Lending snapshot. This will show residential mortgage data and commercial lending data. Curious about this? Tell us.

Mapping investments in INVEST South/West areas was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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