497-317: Revitalizing an Existing Downtown through an Urban Agriculture Redevelopment

Meeting Days/Time
Mondays from 10:00 am to 12:40 pm
Robert Pontarelli (ID) (rpontare@iit.edu)
Appropriate Disciplines
Social Innovation

This IPRO project explores the possibility of creating a downtown lakefront development that combines authentic controlled environment agriculture with mixed-use zoning as a new paradigm for urban redevelopment. Like many smaller American cities, Waukegan, located along the shore of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, has suffered numerous attempts at redeveloping their downtown with few if any results. Most of the failed proposals have depended upon designs that sought to draw residential buyers into the downtown through new residential townhouse development.

This IPRO project is based on an urban agriculture real estate development opportunity for the City of Waukegan that includes both housing and commercial businesses in addition to a working farm.

The IPRO team will create a design for a working urban farm, along with new housing and commercial businesses located on an existing vacant, multi-acre lakefront site in downtown Waukegan within walking distance of the existing Metra Train Station. The intended reception on behalf of the stakeholders, the City of Waukegan, is that they will see a mixed-use, agricultural urbanism as an opportunity to generate (regenerate) downtown redevelopment organically, through food-making and the community that food-making fosters.

We anticipate that the IPRO team will be organized in the following task groups in order to achieve the project objectives: (1) Zoning & Land Use; (2) Finance; (3) Urban Design; and (4) Infrastructure. The purpose and activities of each group are described below.

Zoning and Land Use Team. Team members will research historic examples of planning unusual mixed-use sites in dense urban settings (intimate juxtapositions of seemingly incongruent functions)-relative to zoning. Team members will have or will develop a knowledge of existing zoning and building codes as well as the Planned Urban Development process (PUD), relative to this particular product/application/use. The Zoning and Land Use Team will provide the Design Team with the necessary parameters to prepare the required PUD documentation.

Finance Team. Team members will research the financial parameters of real estate development in general and more specifically, urban redevelopment schemes relative to financing. Team members will develop a broad understanding of the cost issues relative to development and only a cursory sense of financing. The Finance Team will have an understanding of the project finances relative to farming-both under roof (greenhouses as well as closed-building models) as well as open-land components and the ramifications of both the commercial and residential components of the project.

Architectural Team. Team members will research historical examples of seemingly incongruent juxtapositions relative to morphology impacts. This team will develop a broad understanding of the PUD process relative to content and professional presentation.

Infrastructure Team. This team will research the feasibility of sewer, water, power and transportation components of the project. The team will also explore intermodal opportunities, e.g., using sail-power to deliver goods between greater downtown Chicago, Milwaukee and other city centers.

It is anticipated that officials of the City of Waukegan, stakeholders for the proposed project, will participate with students to review concepts and development of creative and viable solutions for redevelopment. It is also likely that such officials will help identify suitable candidate sites and provide the supporting data associated with those properties.

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