Collaborative planning mechanisms in urban megaproject development: the case of Chicago

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Submission Summary
Megaproject development operates based on the ‘iron-law of megaprojects’, which relies upon the logic of exception and includes: extra budget, special regulations, non-standard organisational structure, questioning of public accountability, and the central role of developers at the expense of the city leaders, planners and citizens. Frequently megaproject development happen on abandoned industrial sites or deprived urban areas – brownfields – usually situated within the inner city centre, well-connected to the transport nodes, equipped with diverse infrastructural networks, and close to the built urban patterns. Briefly put, such urban megaprojects are a point of interest to various stakeholders: developers chasing for profit, citizens tending to protect their local urban identity, and planners and public officials stretched between the ethical norms to protect the public interest and pressure imposed by financially powerful actors. With previous in mind, the crucial question is how to improve collaboration among different interest parties, negotiate diverse interests, and secure transparent planning leading to the outcome that will address many of the initially identified needs. We focus on the case of Lincoln Yards, a contemporary urban megaproject development in the central part of Chicago, United States. Using the overview of primary sources (legal and regulatory documents, and newspapers articles) and semi-structured interviews with the relevant stakeholders, we elucidate the following: 1) the response of professional planners towards the developer’s application, i.e., the intention to redevelop the area; 2) the approach applied and values promoted by developers; 3) the strategies used by the local community to protect the local identity and local needs; and 4) the relationship of public officials (aldermen) towards both the local public and investors. The core of the planning negotiation was happening for almost a year (May 2018 – April 2019) to depict the adaptation of the initial planning proposal according to the values, needs and interest on the ground. Finally, the case provides insights into the extent of innovation of planning mechanisms applied in urban megaproject development.
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3: Smartness and development. Al-Souq: innovating for performance and management
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ETH Zurich
University of Illinois, Chicago

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