River Edge Development Advocacy


Image of recently completed Lathrop Homes development on the North Branch of the Chicago River.

Friends works closely with river-edge property owners to guide innovative site planning that enhances the health of the Chicago River system and ensures public accessibility. 

Friends secured Chicago’s first river protection ordinance (1983) and was instrumental in the creation of the original City of Chicago River Corridor Development Plan (1999) which codified required setbacks and landscape treatments along the river. Today, we have even more advanced tools for implementation of river-edge improvements with the recently adopted Chicago River Design Guidelines (2019) that provide a catalogue of design standards for river-edge development.

New developments along the river in Chicago are now held to high environmental standards and river-edge sites are prized locations. 
Image of Southbank development on the South Branch of the Chicago River.

But our work is even more important today, with increasing pressure to maximize development opportunities in river-edge locations. We continue to work closely with private and public property owners to ensure that each new development maximizes the use of innovative design strategies to realize our blue-green corridor vision

Friends advocates for appropriate river-edge development through:

  1. Individual collaboration with property owners, design teams, and developers.
  2. Serving on development advisory coalitions/committees such asthe City of Chicago’s River Ecology and Governance Task Force, Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council, and The 78 Community Advisory Council.
  3. Utilizing our Planning Committee of knowledgeable volunteer professionals from the fields of design, development, construction, planning, engineering, ecology, and marine recreation.

Our priorities for river-edge developments are:

  • Habitat creation, protection, and enhancement.
  • Stormwater capture and infiltration through nature-based solutions.
  • Avoidance of potentially river harming or polluting uses.
  • Welcoming public access to the river’s edge and the waterway for recreation.
  • A continuously connected river edge trail system.

Resources for river edge development:

Questions regarding Friends’ river edge development advocacy can be directed to our Planning Director, Adam Flickinger at aflickinger@chicagoriver.org.

River Edge Development Tracking Map