Keith Lord is president of a real estate corporation specializing in urban infill, adaptive re-use brokerage, design, and development. He makes a living by understanding the market potential of a given place. It’s an equation that shifts as the needs and desires of residents and business change over time, along with what the market in a given place can actually support.
As the Chicago region looks to 2050, Lord said the region is in a time of transition. With changing demographics and technological shifts, he said, communities in the region need to keep up with the changes to survive. “If you can’t change, you go away,” he said. “And if you deny that change is happening, that’s a problem.”
Lord said communities need to be resilient to changes in where people want to live, how they get from one place to another, how they shop, and how they work. But long-range planning needs to be a priority.
“Chicago has to continue to be economically viable, interesting, diverse, entrepreneurial and fun. If we can do those things, we’ll still be one of the strongest, most powerful cities in the world,” he said.
And outside of the city, as more people show a preference for walkable communities, he said some suburbs are keeping up with demand. Other communities, he said, should think about how retail needs to change. “What can a mall be repurposed for? It can be repurposed for medical, senior housing, residential, industrial,” Lord said.