Mixed-use commercial districts are a critical component of urban life, and a popular urban planning idea amongst politicians, planning officials, and citizens, yet what precisely makes a good district- both in terms of how it looks, and how it works- is an extremely challenging question. Without that understanding, it is difficult to develop an effective strategy for improving district performance, or building new high-performing districts.
The purpose of this IPRO project is to develop a tool for evaluating the quality and performance of mixed-use districts, specifically at the level of the city block. (For this study, a block is defined as the street and the bordering development on both sides.) The performance assessment prototype will then be used as the basis for creating an improvement strategy for a Chicago neighborhood commercial district.
This IPRO project has two phases for fall 2017. During the first phase, the IPRO team will develop and refine a working evaluation prototype beginning with literature research across a broad field of disciplines. Based on this research, the team will develop a theoretical framework of categories and metrics and test them on actual city districts and blocks. The resulting prototype will be presented at a midterm review to a panel of industry experts, and further refined based on the feedback.
During the second phase of the project, the IPRO team will use and refine the prototype to develop a design strategy for a Chicago neighborhood commercial district. This will begin with a review of past neighborhood planning and market studies, a site visit, and interviews with various neighborhood stakeholders. Through this interaction, the team will assess the challenges and most promising opportunities, and then, based on the performance index, propose projects, programs, and other investments that would likely yield the greatest performance improvements. The resulting strategy and final prototype will be presented at a final review to community representatives and industry experts.