Institute of Cultural Affairs and Heartland Alliance (formerly Travelersí and Immigrantsí Aid) are internationally respected for their innovative programs and their dedication to quality of life for all. For information on their programming, see their websites, and


The Beginning

"Corridors of Vision" is a process to creatively plan identified commercial thoroughfares, assess them in terms of five values, and "claim a promise" about the future. In its initial phases, it is not about specific development objectives or rigid criteria. It is about an evolving vision for the community. The Mission Statement lists five values that guide the assessment of and planning for the designated corridors. These values are purposely general and may be altered to suit a specific community.

The Corridors of Vision process was designed by Mary Laura Jones (Director of Building Development, Institute of Cultural Affairs) and Rev. Dr. Sid Mohn (President, Heartland Alliance), both of whom are members of the Board of Directors of Uptown Community Development Corporation (Upcorp). The specific method of facilitation used in Uptown was the Technology of Participation (ToP®) as designed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs. ToP is used worldwide and recognized as one of the most inclusive and goal-oriented methods of facilitation. (Please refer to further information on the Institute of Cultural Affairs and Heartland Alliance in the sidebars.)

In the initial concept paper prepared by Upcorp staff, issues of land use, transportation, access, parking, green space, streetscape, etc., were listed as considerations. To encourage creativity and free thinking, planners agreed that these more specific issues might be addressed in later phases of the process, but that the five core values of the Mission Statement would be the starting point.

While Corridors of Vision was designed for use in the Uptown community of Chicago, it is applicable to community planning in other neighborhoods, towns and major cities. Its general approach is to agree on values that are relevant to the area in question, to observe the current condition, and to thoughtfully and creatively plan to shape the future of the community.

The Geography

Two different approaches to geography were considered - Corridors and Districts. Concentrating on corridors allowed the planners to pay attention to gateways and the continuity of the street. Concentrating on districts, or zones, was compatible with other existing Uptown projects. For example, the National Register and the Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel focused on the Broadway-Lawrence Entertainment District, the Wilson yard Redevelopment process focused on the Wilson-Broadway-Montrose district, and the Argyle Task Force focused on the district on Argyle that spills over to Broadway and to Sheridan Road. The planners initially decided to concentrate on corridors, starting with Broadway, Lawrence and Wilson, then move on to other corridors.

Phases and Locations

The planners agreed to allow Corridors of Vision to evolve as a dynamic process, to be re-evaluated as needed. The planners identified the following five phases.

Phase 1: Conduct facilitated sessions, one for each corridor, where participants assess current conditions of the corridors in terms of the identified values and begin to craft a vision for the future of that corridor.
Phase 2: Share the draft vision with other community groups, incorporating input and inspiring discussion among community leaders.
Phase 3: Identify development goals and objectives in the identified corridors. Factors such as land use, zoning, transportation and design are addressed.
Phase 4: Market the vision within the community and beyond; help attract interest and resources for implementation.
Phase 5: Use proactive strategies to bring the community vision to reality.

Initially, the planners identified eight corridors for the visioning process. As work continued, the following corridors became the priority:

Broadway Avenue - Leland to Ainslie, including Lawrence Avenue, Magnolia to Winthrop - "Historic Corridor" and "Entertainment District PLUS"

Broadway Corridor - Leland to Irving Park Road - "Magic Passage" , "Town Center" and "Neighborhood Village"

Lawrence Avenue - Marine Drive to Ravenswood - "Lake Shore Gateway" , "Park Neighborhood" and "Commercial Gateway"

Sheridan Road - Foster to Montrose - "Lush Promenade" and "Community Center"

Broadway - Ainslie to Foster - "Windows to the World"

Wilson Avenue - Marine Drive to Clark Street - "Eclectic Avenue"

Palettes of Uptown - through the Artist's Eye - a Corridors of Vision study on the use of public art in the community.

Upcorp graciously thanks the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Abbell Credit Corporation and Lawrence Avenue Properties for their ongoing support of the Corridors of Vision planning process.

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