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Several Illinois Cities Receive Kudos for Being 'Compact and Connected'


Thursday, April 10, 2014   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With the nickname Prairie State one may think community connectivity is hard to come by in Illinois.

But new data finds that's not the case.

The report from Smart Growth America, examined development patterns in 221 metropolitan areas to see which ones are more compact and connected, and which ones are more sprawling.

Ilana Preuss, the group’s vice president and chief of staff, says for being compact and connected, the Chicago metro area was number 26, Springfield nine and the Champaign-Urbana area number five on the list.

"It has very strong centers, which means that the people and the jobs come together in town centers or in major commercial districts in a strong way – that the people and the jobs aren't spread out like peanut butter across the region," she explains.

Springfield was also noted for its centering factor, and Chicago for the accessibility of its street network.

Other Illinois cities on the list include Rockford at 60 and Peoria at 78.

Preuss says the research found that people have greater economic opportunities in compact and connected cities, spend less on housing and transportation and tend to be safer and healthier than those in more sprawling areas.

"So it means that you're spending less of your household income on some of those basic needs,” she explains. “You're having a longer and healthier life, on average, when you're living in these more compact and connected places."

Preuss points out more sprawling communities can look at ways to invest in connecting existing roadways and approved mixed use zoning, so residential, business and commercial interests can meet.

"We know that those kinds of neighborhoods are in high demands,” she says. “How can we add those kinds of centers to more of our existing neighborhoods so there are more, for instance, grocery stores that they can walk to?"

Preuss adds she hopes policy leaders leader will use the findings as they make development decisions and investments that can support connected communities.

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