City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor


Near North Redevelopment Initiative

Chicago, Illinois

65 acres, 26 hectares

Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design


Once dubbed “the poster child of public housing," Cabrini Green was infamous for dilapidated conditions, crime and social isolation. HUD and the City of Chicago chose it as a redevelopment test case—one that would have a national impact on U.S. urban housing policy. The Mayor's Office retained SmithGroupJJR to create a concept plan guiding physical redevelopment and assessing economic viability.
The resulting plan led to three development phases and public investments topping $320 million. The firm also renovated Seward Park—providing a new urban oasis for the neighborhood and a highly visible first step in revitalizing the Near North community.

Other civic transformations include a new public library, the Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts, and developer-led housing projects that have replaced nearly 500 low-income units out of the required 700.

Nearly $1.2 billion in residential property within two blocks has sold in the last decade, while crime has decreased significantly. The last standing building of Cabrini Green closed in 2010—marking Near North's successful transition from housing project to neighborhood.