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Ravenswood Corridor a Model for the Nation's Urban Planners

By Patty Wetli | April 12, 2013 2:12pm
 A number of buildings along the Ravenswood Corridor have been preserved and adapted for new use.
A number of buildings along the Ravenswood Corridor have been preserved and adapted for new use.
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Facebook/Ravenswood Community Council

RAVENSWOOD — The transformation of the Ravenswood Corridor from a historical manufacturing district to a modern hub of the creative class will be on display this weekend for the nation's urban planners.

The American Planning Association is holding its annual conference in Chicago Saturday through Wednesday, with Ravenswood on the agenda as one of several "mobile workshops."

On Sunday, the Ravenswood Community Council has organized a walking tour for conference attendees — planners, architects, engineers, academics and policymakers — that will stretch along Ravenswood Avenue from the Irving Park Brown Line station to Lawrence Avenue.

"We really wanted to bring more visibility to a national audience," said Clayton Jirak, a council board member who also holds a master's degree in urban planning. "We wanted to showcase a highly developed, very well established creative corridor."

The re-purposing of existing structures for new uses is the main theme of the tour, as well as transit-oriented development and sustainability.

Bill Higgins, transportation planner for the 47th Ward office, and Jonathan Fine, executive director of Preservation Chicago, are among the local experts who will speak to attendees.

Once highly industrialized, the Ravenswood Corridor now includes a mix of office space, restaurants, small businesses and artist lofts.

Begyle Brewing is one of the stops on the tour, demonstrating the conversion of a former warehouse into brewery. Attendees will also visit the historic Abbott Mansion and Sandburg House.

Said Jirak, "That's one of our big goals, to show the juxtaposition of old and new."