Category Archives: Infrastructure

Living in Chicago: What it’s Really Like

The Windy City has definitely become a player in the technological revolution.  Thanks to its attractive business ecosystem, startups and Fortune 500 companies are enjoying what Chicago has to offer.  Indeed, 110 honorees on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies were Chicago-based.

So it’s good that the job market is booming.  But as Alana Semuels pointed out earlier this year, while the:

“number of wealthy census tracts has grown fourfold since 1970, people at the bottom are struggling as much as they always have, if not more—illustrating that it’s not just the white rural poor who are being left behind in today’s economy. The disconnect is why Andrew Diamond, the author of Chicago on the Make, has called Chicago “a combination of Manhattan smashed against Detroit.”

But plans are in place for additional affordable housing.  For example, Logan Square is set to get 30% of the 117 units in the 120 foot tower by North Milwaukee Avenue.  If the project is approved it will help Chicagoans with their housing problems. This is especially so since house prices have increased 17 percent this year.

Chicago’s Dominance

Dave from the City Beautiful talks about the wonders of Chicago including these facts:

• Home to the Obamas
• Most dominant metropolis in the interior of North America
• Almost 10 million residents
• 29 fortune 500 companies
• 2016 World Series Championship Chicago Cubs
• Biggest city between New York City and Los Angeles

He then details how Chicago got here as it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

City Monitoring

There could soon be a way to monitor things like air quality and vehicle traffic in the city of Chicago.  Thanks to the Array of Things project, real-time data on a city will be assembled to make this happen. With scientists, government officials and just lay people from the community, this data will be formulated for predictions on current environmental fluctuations.

The project is being navigated by the University of Chicago and Argonne’s Urban Center for Computation and Data director, Charlie Catlett who is seeking to install 500 sensor nodes around the city. The plan ultimately is to install a network worldwide to “improve living and working in the city.”

Catlett added:

“We talked to people in the city of Chicago to understand what their challenges are. And we found from talking with them and from our own work there’s a lot of data that’s missing, that should be able to be measured, and that requires data analytics, it requires data integration infrastructure, and it requires a measurement strategy.”

Chicago’s Parking Meters

In line with the 2008 city deal, next year Chicago is slated to pay  $20 million to the private firm which is hired to lease the city’s parking meters.  The money will not be connected to the additional revenues that come from the meters.

As it stands, Chicago Parking Meters suffer losses due to meters being removed or taken out of commission.  Even though the Mayor instigated changes a few years ago in an attempt to improve the situation for city tax payers (including free Sunday parking in some areas), there will still be a 16.3 percent increase from last year due to a “poorly managed” deal.

Meter parking rates have not increased in the city in the last five years.

Boost to Chicago’s Entrepreneurs

A new plan has been launched by Andrea Zopp (Chicago’s Chief Neighborhood Development Officer and Deputy Mayor) to help 50 entrepreneurs open businesses in the city’s “thrive zones.” These areas – primarily on the south and west sides – are being primed for a boost of retail energy, with the hoping of expanding the downtown area’s economic growth to other areas.

The areas – Austin, Back of the Yards, Bronzeville, Chatham, Englewood, South Shore, West Humboldt Park and West Pullman – have historically encountered substantial commercial action, which has been stunted in recent years.

The monetary assistance is intended to help local firms engage in business expansion, renovation, and more, ultimately leading to an increase in retail activity and additional job creation.  Businesses involved in this include: beauty supply stores, fashion stores, grocery stores, etc. that already have a presence in the area.

Advancing Affordable Housing in Chicago

Earlier this month there was significant advancement in the plan to develop affordable housing units in the same building as Chicago’s public libraries with the Mayor’s announcement as to which architects and developers won the bid for the project.  The Irving Park, Little Italy and West Rogers Park facilities will all have access to ground floor libraries which will give community members and tenants services such as: early childhood learning programs, homework assistance, and teen digital tools among others.

The project first began in October of last year. A collaborative effort was developed by the Chicago Housing Authority in conjunction with the Chicago Public Library.  The designs will – according to a statement – “break from the standard, cookie-cutter designs that are common to government buildings.”

In a report put out by the National Low Income Housing Coalition earlier this year Chicago was ranked at Number 37 for affordable housing availability.  Hopefully it’ll go up on the list with these upcoming projects.