First Deputy Commissioner
City of Chicago, Chicago

Chicago is an active test bed for policy innovations that are leveraging unprecedented downtown construction activity on behalf of under-invested neighborhoods, local infrastructure, and city landmarks. The improvements include new density bonus provisions that are generating tens of millions of dollars’ worth of grants for small businesses, an expanded downtown zoning district that is bringing office and residential uses to outmoded industrial corridors, and new approaches to density and design that are making Chicago more urban, sustainable and affordable. These new policy innovations are coincident with ongoing efforts to preserve and protect Chicago’s most noteworthy high-rises, along with the city’s legacy as the birthplace of the skyscraper.

As the principal planning agency for the City of Chicago, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) promotes the comprehensive growth and sustainability of the city and its neighborhoods. The department also oversees the city’s zoning and land use policies and employs a variety of resources to encourage business and real estate development, historic preservation, accessible waterfronts, walkable neighborhoods, and related community improvements. This presentation provides an invaluable insight, through the eyes of a high-level official, into the workings of the third-largest city in the US. It can serve as a template for other cities seeking to drive innovation and high-rise development in the context of a city seeking more equitable and better health and economic outcomes for all citizens.