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.
The Northwest Side as a whole is one of Chicago’s strongest and most stable districts, with consistently strong demand for housing, a good choice of schools, and ample access to employment and shopping. Another factor in the district’s stability is its employment base, which is fueled by the economic engines of O’Hare Airport, northwest suburban job centers, and downtown Chicago. More than 45,000 local jobs are in wholesale and retail trade, transportation and warehousing.
Manufacturing remains a major employer despite the closure of many factories. The northwest neighborhoods supported about 7,500 manufacturing jobs in 2011, while nearby suburbs including Elk Grove Village, Franklin Park and Niles continue to have strong manufacturing and distribution sectors. Educational services and healthcare provide another 20,000 jobs.
Transit is key. In addition to the nearby expressways, more than 40,000 people each weekday board CTA Blue Line trains at the district’s eight stations (including Rosemont and O’Hare), and nearly 5,000 more board Metra trains along the three commuter lines serving the district. The CTA offers 2,500 park-and ride spaces at Rosemont, Cumberland and Harlem; smaller numbers of spaces are available at the Metra stations, most of which have large proportions of walking, biking, and drop-off commuters.
In addition, residential streets are solidly built up, with very few vacant lots or new development opportunities. The district represents the northern arc of Chicago’s famed “bungalow belt,” with mile after mile of the attractive, affordable and highly functional housing style. On corner lots and along major arteries, denser apartment blocks were built. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]