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HOK Leads Proposal for Community Improvements for Chicago’s Little Village Neighborhood

Chicago Little Village proposal model HOK

The proposal was one of five selected projects from the Chicago Central Area Committee (CCAC) and World Business Chicago (WBC) to drive economic development and support the efforts of community organizations.

CCAC and WBC recently presented five proposals aimed to spur economic development and support community organizations working to strengthen commercial corridors and businesses in select Chicago neighborhoods. Multidisciplinary teams made up of experts in architecture, urban planning, real estate, law and finance developed plans over the course of nine months to help residents and businesses thrive in the neighborhoods of Little Village, South Shore, West Woodlawn, Washington Park and Austin.

HOK’s Kimberly Dowdell, director of business development, and Domenic Salpietra, regional leader of planning, both based in HOK’s Chicago studio, are leading the Little Village Commercial Corridor Study with assistance from the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Also known as the South Lawndale neighborhood or “La Villita,” Little Village is the largest center of Mexican commerce and culture in the city and anchored by 26th Street, the community’s main commercial corridor.

The Little Village Commercial Corridor is characterized by a dense urban fabric full of diverse shops, offices and restaurants. Working with local leaders and residents on a community-based needs assessment, the team has prioritized raising the visibility of 26th Street as a destination, enhancing the pedestrian environment, maintaining the Mexican entrepreneurial culture for the next generation and completing new development opportunities. Strategies for achieving these goals include:

  • Streetscape: Strengthening identity and experience through a better public realm.
  • Placitas: Creating new social, cultural and economic spaces in the corridor.
  • Parklets: Piloting a program to create pop-up social and community spaces along the length of the 26th Street corridor.

In addition to HOK and the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, the team included representatives from Latent Design, Lamar Johnson Collaborative, Roosevelt University, Habitat, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and SOM.

HOK’s Ali Siddique, senior design professional, is also a member of the team working on the Chicago Avenue corridor in the Austin neighborhood.

CCAC, WBC, and the five teams will now work together with the community partners to develop an actionable set of next steps for each neighborhood.

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