July 2014

Skokie Steps Forward with New Urbanism and Groundbreaking Housing Project

The Village of Skokie, in partnership with area real estate developer, Streetscape Development LLC, took an important step at the end of June by breaking ground on Floral Avenue, a development showcasing custom-tailored single family homes steeped in the principles of “New Urbanism”.  The Floral Avenue project, situated on the north end of Skokie’s revitalized downtown area, is a mere stone’s throw from the Illinois Science and Technology Park.  

 The New Urbanism School captures many of the urban development standards that were prominent before the automobile came to dominate the American scene and culture. In contrast, New Urbanism emphasizes walkable neighborhoods, environmental sustainability, transit oriented development, public spaces and smart growth.   

 The Floral Avenue project fills the New Urbanism bill on all scores. The project’s design and layout will promote neighborly living and community cohesion.  All homes will be energy efficient and meet the stringent requirements of the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program. Aside from its proximity to the ISTP, the Floral Street project is just a few blocks from the Skokie Library, Village Hall, numerous fine restaurants, and all of the other amenities downtown Skokie has to offer.  Floral Avenue residents will also have easy access to Chicago proper via the recently opened Oakton Skokie Swift station, which is less than a 10 minute walk from the development.

 The idea for the Floral Avenue development was conceived back 2011 when three members of the Village of Skokie professional staff, Ann Tennes, Leslie Murphy, and Carrie Haberstich  toured downtown Libertyville as part  DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute’s Municipal Design Network. On that visit, each visited the School Street development, StreetScape’s first major undertaking in New Urbanism.  Although separated on that tour, each independently saw the potential for a similar type development on Skokie’s Floral Avenue. The same was conveyed to Skokie’s elected leadership, a partnership was quickly established with John McLinden, StreetScape’s  founder and principal, and concepts have moved quickly towards the reality of creating the Floral Avenue development.

 Ann Tennes, one of those initial visitors to the Libertyville development, and the village’s Director of Marketing and Communications, remarked “the realization of the Floral Avenue project is  a real tribute to Mayor Van Dusen and Skokie’s Village Trustees who had the foresight and commitment to amass  properties on Floral Avenue for redevelopment purposes and as part of a greater vision for Skokie’s Downtown.”

 Longtime Village Trustee Randy Roberts, a forceful and vocal  proponent of Skokie’s downtown  renaissance, sees the Floral Avenue development as a catalyst for further integration of residential and retail uses in the downtown area. “The creation and continued execution of the Floral Avenue development will instill great credibility and confidence in the Village’s efforts relative to our downtown district. It will be a real shot in the arm”, Roberts remarked.  

Project sales center is at 8149 Lincoln Ave, Skokie, 60077. For more detailed information about the Floral Avenue project, see http://www.floralavenueskokie.com. To learn more about the New Urbanism, The End of the Suburbs (2013) by Leigh Gallagher, an assistant managing editor with Fortune Magazine, is excellent.    Special thanks to Brad Rosen for this article.

Posted in: