How do you get long-time residents to embrace a changing neighborhood landscape?

On behalf of Seattle-based developer Security Properties, Grisko implemented a PR and community outreach strategy in Chicago’s rapidly growing River West neighborhood, just west of downtown. The goal was to earn community support for a large mixed-use residential and retail development that would create additional housing for a growing population of young, urban residents and provide new amenities for the neighborhood. Longstanding neighborhood residents and industrial groups, however, expressed concerns about traffic and a changing community landscape.

Be strategic and nimble, relying on trusted community partners.

Working in close collaboration with a trusted neighborhood advocacy organization, Grisko managed outreach to residents and businesses in the community as well as influential stakeholders, including the local chamber of commerce. We relied on the guidance of the neighborhood organization to understand the tight-knit community’s needs so that concerns could be addressed in a transparent and productive way.

We developed key messages and communications materials, including presentations, factsheets and talking points to help the development team communicate consistently and effectively at public meetings and one-on-one engagements in River West. Deepening our engagement with the community, the Grisko team called condo associations and engaged dozens of nearby local businesses, providing information and talking one-on-one with business owners.

Happy neighbors and a River West development success story.

Local business owners, eager to drive more foot-traffic to their shops and restaurants, quickly came on board, sharing their support for the development through letters and comments, and helping appease some community concerns. After a series of public meetings, residents as well as industrial groups also expressed their support after having their voices heard and learning of the many benefits the new development would bring to their neighborhood.

Overall, the PR and community outreach effort was a success, resulting in the City Council supporting and approving the rezoning to make way for the new development. And, within six months of securing the rezoning, Security Properties sold the $8 million property for more than double its original purchase price. The development is proceeding as planned.