December 11, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson Signs Executive Order to Streamline Approval of Housing and Commercial Development

Executive Order announced at the groundbreaking of Grace Manor Apartments, a $40 million project that is 100 percent affordable in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.

CHICAGO — In an effort to make commercial and housing development processes more efficient across Chicago, today Mayor Brandon Johnson signed an Executive Order aimed at streamlining city approvals. This Executive Order requires 14 City departments to evaluate their existing processes and propose solutions that facilitate development by removing bottlenecks and accelerating review and approval timelines.  

The City acknowledges that some development policies and processes, although well-intentioned, can hinder the speed and viability of development. This Executive Order is part of the City’s responsibility to ensure efficiency and reduce complexity for developers and entrepreneurs without sacrificing the health and safety of workers and residents. 
“My administration recognizes that some of the City’s current processes are overly cumbersome and counterproductive for commercial and housing development, which actually impedes the progress that Chicago residents and businesses deserve,” said Mayor Brandon Jonhson. “We need more affordable housing, we need more small businesses, we need more economic activity, and we need good-paying union jobs to revitalize our city. This Executive Order is an important step in streamlining the process so we are collectively moving forward in the same direction.”  

Mayor Johnson announced the Executive Order today at the groundbreaking of Grace Manor Apartments, a $40 million project that is 100 percent affordable in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. The ground floor will be utilized for community and commercial tenants, including health and wellness service providers, as well as job training and wealth-building classes, while the second through the sixth floors will include 65 affordable housing units with a unit mix of 31 one-bedroom and 34 two-bedrooms, complete with a rooftop deck on the sixth floor. The building was developed by East Lake Management Corporation in partnership with Grace at Jerusalem Community Development Corporation. 

The Executive Order will: 

  • Require relevant departments within 90 days of the Order’s issuance to submit a report to Deputy Mayor of Business and Neighborhood Development Kenya Merritt on proposed changes to streamline processes and incentivize commercial and housing development.   
  • Establish a Director of Process Improvement in the Mayor’s Office tasked with managing implementation across City departments and sister agencies.

The Relevant Departments required to submit a report to the Deputy Mayor of Business and Neighborhood Development on proposed changes to streamline processes and incentivize the creation of more housing and commercial development are:

Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS)   

Department of Buildings (DOB)   

Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protections (BACP)   

Department of Environment (DOE)  

Department of Finance (DOF)  

Department of Housing (DOH)   

Department of Law (DOL)   

Department of Planning & Development (DPD)   

Department of Procurement Services (DPS)   

Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI)   

Department of Transportation (CDOT)   

Department of Water Management (DOWM)   

Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)   

Office of Budget and Management (OBM)  

“Chicago is grappling with an affordable housing shortage and disinvested business corridors disproportionately located on the South and West sides,” said Deputy Mayor Kenya Meritt. “Building a Chicago for everyone means ensuring that all our residents and families have access to quality affordable housing and vibrant business districts. This Executive Order formalizes the City’s efforts to advance process improvement as an integral part of the Johnson Administration's housing and neighborhood development strategy.”  

“It is critical that across the City of Chicago, we all come together to work towards the common goal of building housing and commercial spaces that are affordable,” said The Resurrection Project’s (TRP) Chief Real Estate Development Officer, Guacolda Reyes. “This is the bold leadership that Chicago needs and I trust that this administration will deliver on its commitment. I am incredibly excited by this first step, and I welcome the opportunity to sit at the table to discuss how we can all work together towards the goal of increasing safe, affordable housing.”  

The Grace Manor Apartments project received support from the Chicago Housing Authority and the City’s Department of Housing (DOH) which provided up to $20 million in Multi-Family Housing Revenue Bonds, $5.5 million in TIF funding, a negotiated sale of seven City-owned parcels, and up to $9.2 million in Multi-Family Loan Funds to finance the construction of Grace Manor apartments. This Executive Order will ensure that more developers of equity-driven projects like Grace Manor are supported via an efficient review and approval process.  

“This administration emphasizes the need for a more agile approach to propel the city forward, acknowledging the challenges posed by well-intentioned yet cumbersome development policies that have long been in place,” said DOH’s Acting Commissioner Jim R. Horan. “The Executive Order unveiled today formalizes the City's commitment to improving process efficiencies, in turn reducing developer costs and speeding up affordable housing and neighborhood economic development.”   

The Johnson Administration is committed to facilitating the development of affordable housing and commercial development, particularly in historically disinvested parts of the city. This Executive Order to streamline housing and commercial development will pave the way for equitable, community-driven development and allow Chicago to be an attractive destination for small businesses, entrepreneurs, developers and corporations.