Community assets are those built, natural, cultural and institutional elements that most define a neighborhood. They are anchor institutions, identity markers and community stabilizers. As such, they help guide local capital investment decisions.
A major driver for investment in coming decades is the availability of large tracts of land once used for industry. Though some land remains contaminated by previous uses, the area boasts Chicago’s most diverse and expansive natural habitats, including roughly 6,000 acres in Chicago and adjacent suburbs catalogued by the Illinois Natural Area Inventory.
Land uses around Lake Calumet are non-residential, including wetlands and natural areas, as well as heavy industry, tank farms, closed landfills, sewage treatment and composting. Much of this area is controlled by the Illinois International Port District, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Chicago Park District, and Forest Preserves of Cook County. West of the lake are four square miles of mostly residential communities.
More than 10 years of work by the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Calumet Area Industrial Commission, Openlands, The Chicago Community Trust and others has resulted in a series of land use and open space plans that outline a major initiative called Millennium Reserve. The initiative seeks to restore and revitalize the culturally and ecologically rich Calumet region, a large swath of which is the Chicago South Side. Millennium Reserve partners have prioritized 16 catalytic projects for implementation. Of particular significance for Chicago’s Calumet neighborhoods is the role of the Millennium Reserve partners in opening Lake Calumet to the public. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]