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City Seeks Proposals for Activating 49 'People Plazas'

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Chicago is pulling the next lever in its multi-part bike & pedestrian improvement project, dubbed Make Way For People. After beginning to address critical shortfalls in bicycling infrastructure, easing hazardous pedestrian crossings, and adding new spaces for spontaneous leisure, the City is looking to imaginatively rebuild its 49 public plazas. A Request for Proposals (RFP) has gone out, reports Streetsblog Chicago, and will reward one private entity with a contract to tackle at least 30 of the citywide locations. The project will build on modest interventions like CDOT's "People Spots" and Architecture for Humanity's ACTIVATE! design competition that spawned design interventions to a handful of neglected public spaces.

Unlike "People Spots", "People Plazas" will work with existing gathering spots— spots that could generally use sprucing up, livening up, and year-round attractions. CDOT Project Director Janet Attarian tells Streetsblog's John Greenfield she suspects the RFP will be most interesting to nonprofit groups and that awarding the contract in bulk will ensure lesser spaces in less desirable neighborhoods don't get short shrift in the bidding. According to the RFP, the city will give $50,000 in seed money in the first year of the contract to help attract cultural programming to the plazas, with ongoing revenue available through advertising, retail, and grant opportunities. Existing positive activities must be retained (i.e. farmers market) and, obviously, the contractor has to have some maintenance know-how. Proposals must reach CDOT by Monday, September 30.
·RFP for Private Management of City Plazas (pdf) [City of Chicago]
·CDOT Sets Out to Bring More Street Life to Almost 50 Plazas [Streetsblog Chicago]
·Make Way For People [official]
·Design Competition Looks to 'Activate' Forlorn Public Spaces [Curbed Chicago]