Prospering in Place: Linking Jobs, Development, and Transit
June 19, 2012
Places matter. But for decades the Chicago region disregarded its historic, compact, transit-served neighborhoods in favor of urban sprawl with its dependence on cars and cheap gas. When the economy was growing, the cost of this shift was less apparent, but stagnant incomes, high unemployment, and historic fuel prices have exposed the long term folly of this development strategy. Thanks to congested and deteriorated railways, Chicago lost has thousands of shipping jobs to places like Kansas City and Columbus. Suburban communities outmaneuvered each other to snag retail centers that netted no new job growth and many of which have since disappeared. Jobs and people dispersed — each getting farther away from the nation's second largest passenger train system.
A prosperous future depends on our ability to target investments, both private and public, to the specific places that enjoy those assets. By relying on the measures that comprise location efficiency: residential density, a greater mix of uses and destinations nearby, and ready access to jobs and transit the Chicago region can reintroduce a legacy development pattern with its respectful use of scarce land and energy, appreciation for interaction and community, and a high esteem for the mass transit system that served it so well. In this program, Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) presented highlights from CNT's new Prospering in Place report, which takes the bold step of identifying those priority locations that can accelerate the region's economic development.