The cover of the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan shows the neighborhood's distinctive clocktower landmark and lagoon.

Neighborhood Plan Release Portends New Era of Development for McKinley Park

Published February 13, 2021

The long-awaited McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan, a project of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) won by the McKinley Park Development Council, has been officially released, providing a blueprint for neighborhood improvement, development and growth.

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Released by CMAP the week of February 10, 2021, the neighborhood plan is the result of a years-long process of community outreach, assessment and coordination. A steering committee of community members, leaders and development council advisors spearheaded the effort, with CMAP contributing over $100,000 worth of professional services to the project. 

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The result is a voluminous document presented as a print-ready PDF file, augmented by an Executive Summary and an Existing Conditions Report released earlier in the project.

Community Initiatives Big and Small

"The first recommendation that jumped out to me was the green infrastructure,” said McKinley Park Development Council President John Belcik. A biologist by training, Belcik said he appreciated the focus on things like storm water management, which “can really make a difference when trying to keep excess rainwater out of the sewer system.”

The plan is exhaustive and recommends many community initiatives both large and small. All is centered around six primary community goals identified during outreach:

An extra element integrated into the plan by CMAP were specific suggestions to improve many of the McKinley Park neighborhood’s high-traffic intersections, especially along South Archer Avenue and South Western Boulevard. The biggest proposed change would be adjusting Western Boulevard and Avenue to two, one-way “couplets” south of 35th Street.

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan Western Avenue 35th Street intersection
A figure from the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan illustrates how Western Avenue and Boulevard might be reconfigured south of 35th Street.

An Implementation Matrix in the neighborhood plan serves as a giant to do list for the McKinley Park Development Council and the neighborhood. Every primary and sub-goal in the neighborhood plan gets a suggested list of projects, including who might be likely candidates for lead, partner and funding roles.

Diversity and Affordability as Priorities

Belcik said the council is looking to the community to set priorities for what to do first, using the group’s monthly meetings to highlight a different chapter of the plan.

“It’s an effort to introduce people to some of the ideas and recommendations, but also take the temperature of what is specifically important,” he said.

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Following a January focus on the 35th Street commercial corridor, the upcoming McKinley Park Development Council Meeting on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, will highlight the equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) chapter of the plan.

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“Given some of the initial feedback we've received, we've heard that promoting diversity and affordability are the top priority of our residents,” Belcik said.

To improve access to the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan for our many readers and community members who rely on mobile devices and web-based translators, the McKinley Park News offers a web version of the neighborhood plan, transformed into a hypertext format for ease of use and browsing, accessible from

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