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Overview of Urban Land Institute's Uptown Report

In the fall of 2000, a number of professionals affiliated with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) spent a week in Uptown. Their mission was to develop recommendations to help revitalize the Lawrence/Broadway Entertainment District.

Sponsoring organizations were the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Uptown Community Development Corporation (UPCORP). The concept was a brainchild of Alderman Mary Ann Smith (48th Ward).

Alderman Smith and DPD have undertaken many steps to nurture redevelopment of the Lawrence/Broadway Entertainment District. These include:

  • Landmarking the interior and exterior of the Uptown Theatre.

  • Creating UPCORP and funding it with city monies.

  • Placing the Uptown Square Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Sponsoring and funding the ULI study.

  • Creating the Lawrence/Broadway Entertainment District TIF.

The ULI study was conducted at a time when the Uptown Square Historic District was winding its way through the National Register's approval process and prior to the Lawrence/Broadway Entertainment District TIF introduction.

The ULI panel spent 5 days in Chicago. They extensively toured historic buildings within the Entertainment District. They conducted 1 days of interviews with interested parties. Over 100 people were interviewed including: elected officials; personnel from various city agencies such as planning, housing, cultural affairs, special events, parks, CTA; area business owners; experienced theater renovators; many of Uptown's not-for-profit, social service organizations; and some block club representatives. The ULI panel then spent time conferring and brainstorming with one another, and on the final day, presented oral suggestions to city officials and UPCORP.

Promises were made to the community that ULI's final report would be presented at a community meeting and broadly distributed. Many months passed and the report was not released; the reason given was the city had not yet paid the required fee to ULI. Once that matter was settled, the report was released to a limited distribution and the promised community meeting was never scheduled.

As you read the resulting report, we believe you will agree that the suggestions are thoughtful, responsible and professional. However, the ULI panel did not make recommendations concerning affordable housing and it chided the two aldermen and community groups with disparate viewpoints (i.e., the Uptown Chicago Commission and Organization of the NorthEast) to better cooperate and come together to craft a common community vision. We suspect these are the reasons the ULI Advisory Report was not widely broadcast.

Click to view the ULI Report Executive Summary.

To receive a photocopy of the full ULI Report, please call our office at 773-338-7141 and make arrangements.

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