May Luncheon: Catalyzing Economic Growth Through Tactical Urbanism

Date(s) - May 17, 2023
11:30 am - 1:30 pm

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In June 2020, at the height of the pandemic and in the wake of civil unrest, a group of architects, planners, and designers came together with the goal of helping communities on the city’s South and West sides reopen during challenging times. The result was two public interventions – 75th Street Boardwalk and POPCourts!. The success of these two projects led to the Public Outdoor Plazas (POP) Program, along with ten additional plazas, which sought to activate vacant lots on commercial corridors through Tactical Urbanism.

Tactical Urbanism (n): An approach to neighborhood building that uses short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change.

The Mayor’s Office and Department of Planning and Development (DPD) are developing the next iteration of the POP Program with a focus on vacant storefronts. The goal is to use the same Tactical Urbanism strategies to catalyze economic growth along these corridors.

The success of the POP Program and its expansion suggest that tactical urbanism could be employed in other realms as well, with positive social and economic impact. Those possibilities include other neighborhoods in Chicago, communities across the country, and public and private institutions.