Wicker Park and Bucktown (WPB), a neighborhood on Chicago’s near north side, has experienced rapid change over the last two decades. While diversity is a hallmark of the area, the lively arts and culture scene brought it to the attention of the broader Chicago region. As WPB’s business corridors attracted visitors from throughout the region, adjacent residential areas experienced dramatic revitalization.  By the late 2000’s, residents and business owners were concerned about the future of their neighborhood, as the characteristics that brought such success were in danger of being lost.


The WPB Special Services Area, which manages commercial corridors in the neighborhood, sought a plan to build on successes while preserving the essential character and diversity of the area.  The planning team of Interface Studio (Philadelphia), Civic Economics (Austin and Chicago), and Sam Schwartz Engineering (Chicago office) was brought in to formulate such a plan in close consultation with stakeholders in the neighborhood.


Under the inspired leadership of Interface Studio, the team developed an unusually aggressive approach to community engagement in addition to the technical analyses necessary to understanding the past, present, and future of any place.  Civic Economics focused on the evolution of the business mix on the connected commercial corridors that provide a range of goods and services to neighbors and visitors alike. Mapping every business and commercial space throughout the district entailed walking each block, fostering an intimacy otherwise unavailable to visiting planners.At the end of the process, the project team, our steering committee of local stakeholders, the WPB Special Service Area, and local elected officials produced a planning document unlike any other.


The plan will guide efforts for both commercial and residential planning for years to come, ensuring a place for artists and craftsmen alongside the ever-expanding range of shops, restaurants, and bars; extend prosperity to the underutilized commercial fringes of the area; and provide physical spaces that engage and delight the community.The WPB Strategic Plan has earned a national Planning Excellence Award from the American Planning Association, a state award from the Illinois Congress for New Urbanism, and a state award from the Society of Transportation Engineers.  Learn more about the project from the video above, produced by the American Planning Association.


The complete Wicker Park-Bucktown plan is available for download at http://wickerparkbucktown.org/master-plan/ 

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wicker park - bucktown

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chicago, illinois


Civic Economics has long history of providing economic analysis and development strategies as a component of land use planning. And we count ourselves fortunate to work with a team we think is the best in the business - Interface Studio of Philadelphia. 


Once such planning project took place in Chicago, in the Wicker Park - Bucktown neighborhood on the north side, quite possibly the coolest neighborhood we've ever worked in. Read on to learn more.