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Chicago to host global mayors’ forum on urban waterfront development

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will co-host the summit with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo in March

Photo via Curbed Chicago Flickr Pool/Don Harder

As Chicago enjoys the recent expansion of its downtown River Walk and the opening of a fourth new riverfront boat house, cities all across the globe are also reexamining their own relationships with their urban waterfronts. Recognizing how waterways have evolved from hubs of transportation and manufacturing into new public amenities and catalysts for development in each of their respective cities, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo plan to co-host a global meeting in March to discuss the topic further.

Much like Chicago, Paris has reaped the benefits of adding new pedestrian access to its primary waterway—the Seine River. "The Chicago River and the Seine have defined our history, but they are also our future—economically, environmentally, and recreationally,” said Emanuel last week at a joint press conference during the C40 Mayors Summit 2016 in Mexico City. “And we are not alone. As we reimagine, redevelop and reinvest in our waterfronts in Chicago, we can learn from cities across the world undergoing similar transformations—and they can learn from Chicago as well.”

The upcoming Chicago-based forum will offer mayors from all over the world an opportunity to exchange ideas and solutions for activating waterfront land via mixed-use development. The meeting will also highlight the larger economic, environmental, and social benefits that such developments have brought to their respective cities. Chicago has a growing number of mixed-use waterfront projects currently in the works including River Line, the next phase of Wolf Point, and the redevelopment of the former Finkl Steel site.