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Urban designer and educator will lead Chicago’s planning and development

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Maurice Cox was appointed as the Commissioner of Planning and Development

A bird’s eye view of Chicago shows the confluence of the river, a few towers on the west end of the Loop, and smaller buildings of neighborhoods. Shutterstock

Detroit’s former development commissioner Maurice Cox is moving on to Chicago. His appointment as the Commissioner of Planning and Development was announced by the mayor’s office officially on Wednesday but his departure was reported in July.

“It is time that the city focuses on development that is directed throughout every community and into areas that have been overlooked for decades,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “Maurice Cox is uniquely qualified to help create a city where development addresses the fundamental needs of every neighborhood so that Chicago benefits and equitably works for all its residents.”

Cox is known for leading Detroit’s initiative for “20-minute neighborhoods” which ensured residents had everyday necessities within a reasonable distance. He’s been praised for creating neighborhoods residents want to stay in by improving streets, parks, and amenities. That’s aligned with Lightfoot’s agenda to create more affordable housing and give neighborhoods more attention.

The educator and urban planner has an impressive resume. He’s taught at Syracuse University, the University of Virginia, and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He was an associate dean at Tulane University’s School of Architecture and design director at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. He also directed the Tulane City Center, a city-based design resource center for New Orleans. And, he was mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Chicago is one of the most architecturally beautiful and inspiring cities in the world,” said Cox in a statement. “It is an honor to join Mayor Lightfoot’s team in our effort to harness the creative energy and resources that presently fuel the resurgence of downtown and expand it to all neighborhoods to create a more equitable and just city.”

Cox’s appointment will be introduced at the September council meeting and he’ll begin his role on September 15. The interim commissioner Eleanor Gorski will stay on as first deputy.

Cox replaces David Reifman who stepped down when former Mayor Rahm Emanuel left office.