NeighborhooD and Business District Planning

North Halsted Business District Analysis
Northalsted Neighborhood, Chicago IL
Completed 2017

PLACE’s conducted a business district to support and bolster Northalsted Business Alliance’s desire to improve and expand the commercial offerings on North Halsted Street. The organization is seeking to meet the needs of the area’s residents, visitors and employees, as well as continue to provide value to members, funders and elected officials and support needed and appropriate development.

The analysis identified the mix of ground floor uses, analyzed zoning, evaluated local business attraction efforts, specified potential vacant property tools, and reviewed current conditions facing prospective business owners. PLACE also collected a mix of business use data and current business attraction efforts for two peer business district organizations for a comparison to North Halsted Business Alliance’s efforts. 

Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP)
Lakeview Neighborhood, Chicago, IL
Completed 2011

PLACE was the lead consultant on the Lakeview Area Master Plan. Innovative community outreach components included a youth-only planning session, scavenger hunts, extensive use of social media and a project website, opportunities for interfacing virtually with the process, open houses and house parties. Paired with traditional planning work, such as GIS mapping of the district, and innovative sustainable initiatives, the plan resulted in an overall blueprint for developing the assets of the area while addressing concerns at a sub-district level.

The plan was awarded the Community Outreach Award from the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association and and a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association.

Clark in Lincoln Park Commercial District Study
Lincoln Park Neighborhood, Chicago, IL
Completed 2009

The Clark Street commercial area in Lincoln Park had strong local spending power and a stable community, yet was unable to compete with its more desirable regional neighbors. While other commercial areas nearby had become destinations for boutique clothing or a variety of dining options, Clark Street had failed to capitalize on its own assets and had become a commercial area without a compelling identity as well as lacking a critical mass of strong destinations. 

The Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hired PLACE Consulting in the Winter of 2008 to assess the competitive strengths of Clark Street, understand the primary target audiences and their needs, and then develop an economic development plan for the district. PLACE conducted extensive interviews of local shoppers, residents and leaders, analyzed the demographic and economic data of Clark Street and its competitors and assessed the commercial area’s place in the local and regional economy. 

PLACE discovered resident groups with clearly different needs and sub-districts with very different opportunities and challenges as part of the economic development plan. PLACE identified specific retail niche markets that could be developed or supported to improve the competitiveness of the district. Working collaboratively with the Chamber, PLACE developed clear and implementable recommendations in three phases, created engaging materials for proactive business recruitment, and produced concise summaries of findings and recommendations to communicate the plan to elected officials and neighborhood groups.

Chicago Avenue Commerical Corridor Plan / Retail Market Analysis
West Town Neighborhood, Chicago, IL
Completed 2007

The newly established Special Service Area #29 hired members of PLACE Consulting in the fall of 2006 to conduct a commercial corridor analysis and develop materials for business recruitment. Special Service Area #29 is charged with providing services for Chicago Avenue between Halsted and California, a commercial area that transects at least four different neighborhoods and two established ethnic enclaves.

Chicago Avenue was characterized by pockets of retail and restaurants and benefited from being close to trendy neighborhoods that attracted many shoppers and was well connected by public transportation to downtown. Commercial vacancies, the lack of a recognizable identity, and new development that only allowed for very small business uses were all identified as challenges. Members of PLACE conducted an extensive field survey to identify all the vacant storefronts, building conditions, areas with bars and the windows and then mapped the information using GIS.

Shoppers and business surveys were administered to identify local challenges and demands. The results of the surveys were used to provide more depth to the economic opportunity analysis, which identified the types of businesses that could be supported within walking distance, the neighborhood and the regional areas. Finally a guideline document was created for the Special Service Area manager that took into account all of the research findings and made recommendations by sub-area, including branding, positive clusters to build on, possible new business types, and specific challenges to address.