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Do Planned Manufacturing Districts Block Good Development?

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Since the 1980s, the city's 15 Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs) have shaped Chicago into the city it is today. There are eleven on the north and northwest sides, and ten of them have been created in the last decade.

But is it time for an overhaul? It depends who you ask.
According to Steve Fifield, it's time to rethink them, because they were set up at a time when manufacturing companies were being pushed out of the city. Now that most of the city's desirable areas to live and work are zoned for low density commercial and residential use, the plan needs to change and accommodate the city's jobs and housing markets.

So that's one vote. For another perspective, it may help to look at historic development.

Three of the oldest PMDs--Clyborn, Elston, and Goose Island--have been found to be sound and viable in business and job creation, but ineffective in the manufacturing sector. But that may have been by design, because they were opened to press for results in retail, residential, or mixed-use purposes. Biznow reports that Michael Holzer thinks that PMDs helped science, R&D, and engineering jobs creation, but hindered manufacturing jobs.

But if manufacturing relocates to the outer reaches of the city with easy access to expressways, where companies can modernize their factories and expand intelligently, is that a bad thing? Especially if mixed-use development brings together all parts of the economy to capialize on the technology and creative jobs triangle in River North, Goose Island, and the West Loop. The debate continues.


·Ickes Developer Chosen by CHA Eight Years After Demolition [BisNow]
·Ickes Homes Coverage [Curbed Chicago]