Leveraging The Chicago River for Equitable Economic Development in Albany Park
North River Commission is kicking off Confluence, a planning project to improve and activate a series of sites at Lawrence Avenue and the Chicago River, to establish a stronger neighborhood gateway for Albany Park. The project will create a platform for lively economic activity, a space for authentic cultural expression, and a catalyst that spurs investment in a vital neighborhood commercial corridor.
North River Commission is currently undertaking a community-driven planning and implementation process that will envision a new, iconic, and dynamic riverfront destination that supports local business and catalyzes new equitable investment in the Lawrence Avenue corridor.
Confluence is a project of Great Rivers Chicago, funded through Our Great Rivers, with generous support from the Chicago Community Trust and assistance from the Metropolitan Planning Council. Thank you to Perkins & Will and Omni Ecosystems for providing their generous pro-bono planning and design services and support on this project.
Confluence focuses on the area at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and the Chicago River. The project area includes Ronan (River) Park, including the the River Trail Plaza, and the Ronan Park Natural Area within. The area also includes a city-owned, Neighborspace-managed, urban agriculture site that hosts Global Gardens Refugee Training Farm and the Peterson Garden Project. The project area also includes Meeting Tomorrow, a thriving business campus with a riverside office complex, warehouse, and parking area. Additionally, the project will consider the North-South bike trail, which includes the Manor Greenway, portions of Lawrence Avenue, and trail within Ronan Park.
Confluence will feature a community-involved process that partners with the stakeholders on site, business owners on Lawrence Avenue, and residents of the surrounding communities to create a shared vision and series of improvements on site. The project will focus on physical improvements and programming on site that will create a new neighborhood gateway that includes amenities for residents and attractive features that draw visitors to the site, patronize local businesses, and spur further equitable economic development in Albany Park.
Updates and Upcoming Events
We are in the beginning stages of this project, but will use this space to update the public on upcoming opportunities to get involved and share your input on this work. Please check back soon for more information, and sign-up for our mailing list to stay in touch!
Perkins and Will, and Omni Ecosystems, representing a team of architects, landscape architect, green infrastructure experts, and urban designers, on a 12-week planning process focusing on community engagement and concept visioning. We are grateful both firms are providing their services pro-bono to this project.
During this time, we are meeting and listening to local residents, businesses, organizations, local government, and recreational users of Ronan and River Park. The purpose of this process is to get feedback on current perceptions and uses of this area, and to build an ongoing relationship with members of the community as we move towards developing and facilitating improvements and programs in the area. We are meeting and speaking with stakeholders in multiple forms, including through small group conversations, one-on-one meetings, steering committee, and public open house on site.
The planning process an early step in realizing the potential of this site as a neighborhood gateway. NRC will continue to work with residents, businesses, organizations, and other local stakeholders throughout the entirety of this process.
October 17th, 10am - 12pm - Community Open House
Join NRC and friends at a pop-up event at Ronan Park and nearby, as we talk with local residents and passersby about Our Great Rivers and get their feedback on the current uses and design in the area.
Global Garden Refugee Training Farm -
Global Gardens Refugee Training farm is a 2 acre urban farm in Albany Park whose mission is to improve access to fresh vegetables for newly arrived refugee families and their urban neighbors, feed the souls of displaced farmers through re-connection with the soil and food production, provide supplemental income for participating refugee farmers, and foster new, refugee-operated farms.
NeighborSpace is the only nonprofit urban land trust in Chicago that preserves and sustains gardens on behalf of dedicated community groups. We support community gardens – through property ownership, insurance, water, stewardship, education, tool lending, project planning, fundraising support, troubleshooting, and more — so that community groups can focus on gardening and on their community-building vision, generating food, beauty, play, health, and safety for their neighborhoods.
The following is a targeted timeline, and subject to community input and funding availability.
Fall / Winter 2020
- Community-Driven Planning Process
- Steering Committee
- Public Plan Review and Revisions
- Requests for funding for infrastructure and programs
Spring / Summer 2021
- Facilitate improvements to the project site, including public art and infrastructure enhancements
- Launch programs on site, including markets and cultural events
- Establish partnership-based infrastructure to maintain programming and create further improvements on site
North River Communities Neighborhood Plan
The North River Communities Neighborhood Plan presents a vision for the future and a framework for making decisions that align with long-term goals. It is the result of two years of work led by the North River Commission (NRC) and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) with the community’s residents, business owners, workers, and leaders. The plan focuses on the North River communities, a core section of NRC’s service area on the northwest side of Chicago.
The Neighborhood Plan formed the inspiration for Confluence, as it called out the project area as the potential for a new neighborhood gateway that would help to improve the experience of Lawrence Avenue. This project is also taking place in conjunction with SSA #60 and Albany Park Chamber of Commerce "Global Roots, Local Heart" initiative.
Project Lead - Carson Poole - email@example.com