Mayor Johnson announces 'Cut the Tape' report to streamline construction development approvals

ByCraig Wall and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, April 5, 2024
Mayor Johnson announces plan to streamline construction developments
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Friday announced the city's "Cut the Tape" report on streamlining affordable housing development approval processes.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Friday announced his "Cut the Tape" report at an event Friday afternoon in downtown.

The Johnson Administration announced what it called bold new plans to streamline construction and affordable housing development approval processes.

The announcement was held at 1 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Rotunda.

"Our mission is to foster growth and elevate Chicago's economic landscape, as outlined in the Cut the Tape report, which aims for a more effective and streamlined development process," Johnson said in a news release. "This strategy will quickly increase residential and commercial projects, stimulating business sectors and addressing the urgent need for housing. Together, we're breaking down barriers to progress and building towards a more prosperous city for all."

SEE ALSO | Mayor Brandon Johnson moving forward with plan to convert downtown offices to housing

In North Lawndale, the Grace Manor affordable housing project is well underway after just breaking ground four months ago.

Rev. Marvin Hunter took a moment Friday to admire the progress of a development he has been working on for 25 years.

"Words cannot express the level of excitement and joy that I have about this," Hunter said.

The Johnson Administration's new plan especially effects those working on affordable housing projects, like the one Bronzeville.

"We have heard that the city needs to get out of its way and remove the hurdles that developers and contractors face when trying to develop housing and commercial properties," Deputy Mayor for Business and Neighborhood Development Kenya Merritt said at the Friday press conference.

The city's Cut the Tape report has more than 100 recommendations.

The plan is welcome news for Rev. Hunter and others with more projects in the works.

"A real simple one is the bureaucracy of just getting permits," Hunter said. "You know, you can close the deal, but permitting can can take months sometimes, and that just kind of depends on the politics."

SEE ALSO | Mayor Brandon Johnson moving forward with plan to convert downtown offices to housing

"Processes have taken nine months in our expectation that they could take three months or six months, it could take less than six months," Mayor Johnson said at the press conference. "Some of these processes, they're taken years. We want to cut that down considerably."

The Friday announcement comes two days after Mayor Johnson announced plans to partner with investors to convert empty office space in the Loop into residential properties, including about 30% that will be affordable housing units. The efforts aim to help the Mayor foster better relations with the business community.

Certain sectors had been critical of Johnson for his failed "Bring Chicago Home" referendum, that some predicted would scare off developers.

"So this is a continuation of what my administration has set out to do from the very beginning," Johnson said.

The mayor said in the days and weeks ahead, his team will be reviewing all the recommendations and he'll be appointing a new director to oversee the process of cutting down the bureaucratic red tape.

The City of Chicago has released the full report on their website.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Friday announced his "Cut the Tape" report on streamlining affordable housing development approval processes.

The Cut the Tape report has three strategic priorities, Johnson said.

"Build Faster - speed up the pace of development by streamlining approval processes. Build Everywhere - allow more housing and businesses to be developed in more places. Build Together - partner with public, private, & philanthropic stakeholders to create innovative solutions," the report reads.

The report also highlights "10 big bets" the Johnson administration says will improve development approval processes:

  • "Cross-department coordination through the creation of a new Director of Process Improvement role in the Mayor's Office
  • "Policy improvements to enable expedited reviews for affordable housing projects
  • "Zoning changes that include collaborating with City Council to eliminate minimum parking requirements and streamline special use permits, and more
  • "Improve boards and commission processes by evaluating the feasibility of streamlining the Community Development Commission (CDC) and the Chicago Planning Commission (CPC)
  • "Streamline design and construction requirements by revisiting the Department of Housing's (DOH) Architectural and Technical Standards (ATS) manual
  • "Reduce the number of design review meetings within the Department of Planning and& Development (DPD) from three to one, and reassess the role of the Committee on Design
  • "Eliminate Phase 1 and 2 environmental reviews as a requirement for sale of environmentally cleared City-owned parcels
  • "Expand the finance pilot for cash advance payment options
  • "Create an online "City wallet" account to improve options for customer billing, online payments, and debt check
  • "Work to reduce the administrative burden of the City's Economic Disclosure Statement (EDS), including expanding expiration dates, allowing exemptions for select projects that receive an allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and more"