Celebrating Houseal Lavigne Associates’ 10 Year Anniversary

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Headlines | No Comments

We want to thank everyone who was able to come out and celebrate the firm’s 10 year anniversary earlier this month. Having officially turned 10 on November 8th, 2014, it was great to catch up with old friends and new partners that have helped shape a decade of work for Houseal Lavigne Associates. The celebration was held at Randolph Tavern in Downtown Chicago and included clients, consulting firms and organizations, and friends of the Firm, all having a chance to eat, drink, and share good conversation. We are so thankful to be part of such a welcoming and diverse professional community!

10yr Anniversary Thank You

City of Flint receives $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods Grant

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 in Headlines | No Comments

The story of Flint, as made infamous in Michael Moore’s Roger & Me, has been that of decline and hopelessness.  However, the Imagine Flint Master Plan is beginning to change all this by providing the community with a single, united vision and the guidance needed to help transform Flint into a vibrant sustainable community.  People and organizations are pledging their help. Institutions are investing. Businesses are expanding.

Though only adopted in October 2013, the Master Plan has yielded tangible results. The housing conditions data produced through the process has helped the City secure more $24 million in grants for demolition, neighborhood planning, and redevelopment efforts.

Choice Neighborhoods Grant

In January 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced seven new Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant awards, including $500,000 to the City of Flint. One of 51 applicants, the City of Flint will use the grant, in partnership with the Flint Housing Commission, to create a plan to address the historic challenges of poverty and crime impacting the Atherton East public housing development and surrounding areas.

The Imagine Flint Master Plan prioritizes social equity and specifically calls for work to improve opportunity for residents of Atherton East. As Mayor Dayne Walling:

“This new grant will enable us to work with residents, partners and the Flint Housing Commission to develop a neighborhood transformation plan. This is another step forward in implementing the Imagine Flint Master Plan and demonstrating that we can create neighborhoods that are safe, vibrant, and inclusive in every part of the city.

“Decades ago Flint made the mistake of putting its public housing in some of the most isolated parts of the city, and now we’re seeing the results – high crime, concentrated poverty, and limited economic opportunity. This grant gives us the opportunity to work hand in hand with the Flint Housing Commission and residents to break the cycle and reconnect families to opportunity.”

− Flint Mayor Dayne Walling

Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2)

In January 2014, the City was also selected for participation in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative largely because of the Master Plan. Touting Flint’s Master Plan as a key reason for the City’s selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said, “One of the things that really impressed us about Flint is that there is a brand new master plan and provides a clear road map strategy for the city and we really felt we could be helpful on.”

Coralville Community Plan wins Iowa APA Award

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Headlines | No Comments

The City of Coralville Community Plan wins the Iowa APA Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Planning. The award recognizes comprehensive plans that advance the science and art of planning, with focus on originality, innovation, citizen engagement, effectiveness, implementation, and progressing the role of planners. The award was presented to the City of Coralville and Houseal Lavigne Associates on October 23, 2014.
Using innovative outreach strategies and highly illustrative design, the Coralville Community Plan provides guidance for a growing community driven by an expanding technical, medical, and research-based community. The plan sets forth long-range recommendations for the maintenance and enhancement of existing neighborhoods and commercial areas, and advances strategies for the sustainable development and economic growth of the community.
The planning and public engagement process fostered stewardship for the plan by underscoring that participants’ voices had been heard and that their ideas had influenced the final decisions and plan recommendations. The result is a plan that directs local policy and day-to-day decision-making in an easy-to-use and understandable format to ensure Coralville can achieve its long-term goals and realize its desired potential.

Coralville Community Plan FINAL HQ-43 copy

Imagine Flint Master Plan recognized for Outreach

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Headlines | No Comments

The Imagine Flint Master Planning Process was awarded the 2014 Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach by the Michigan Association of Planning!


Outreach and community engagement served as the foundation for the Imagine Flint planning process. Over 5,000 Flint residents and roughly 6,000 community members attended one of over 300 master plan events. Some key highlights of Imagine Flint outreach are below:

  • 200+ meetings conducted – over 2,500 attended
  • 30 Do-it-Yourself workshops completed – 500 individuals participated
  • 1,700 visitors in the Imagine Flint project studio
  • 500+ attended Community Vision & Goals workshop
  • 350+ attended (2) Land Use Workshops
  • 210 individuals attended Sub-Area workshops
  • 9 Ward Input Sessions were held – 300 participants
  • Over 1,000 monthly “hits” on imagineflint.com
  • 150 surveys completed
  • Over 750 Facebook “likes”

You can view a map which details the outreach meetings completed during the planning process in the project website Map Gallery.

In addition to the award, the Imagine Flint planning process was added to The Michigan Municipal League’s Civic Engagement Best Practices guidebook! Using the success of our project, the booklet advises readers to learn from Imagine Flint by building “a diverse team of residents and community stakeholders to guide engagement.” See the guidebook here.

ILAPA 2014 Conference and the APA 2015 Conference in Seattle

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Headlines | No Comments

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth and attended our Firm’s sessions at the Illinois APA 2014 Conference in Evanston, October 1-3. We are always happy to have the opportunity to chat with our colleagues about the exciting and important planning that is taking place throughout the state. We appreciate the opportunity to share what the HLA Team has been up to and highlight the important work our client communities have undertaken.

Chicago’s Houseal Lavigne Associates Receives Prestigious National Planning Award

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Headlines | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – Houseal Lavigne Associates, an urban planning and community development consulting firm based in Chicago, will receive the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for an Emerging Planning & Design Firm from the American Planning Association.  The Emerging Planning & Design Firm award honors a young planning and design firm that has helped elevate the planning profession and build public support for planning, and through its current work, demonstrates the potential of having a continual influence on the planning profession for years to come.

Founded in 2004, Houseal Lavigne Associates has had tremendous success with its fresh approach to citizen outreach, helping to make planning more engaging and thereby garnering maximum support for and among the communities with which they work.

“Houseal Lavigne’s team of innovative thinkers is breaking down the barriers between planners and community residents, welcoming the public and giving them easy access to the planning process,” said Ann C. Bagley, FAICP, 2014 APA Awards Jury chair. “Although the firm is young, it has had a tremendous impact on the profession of planning, adding value and expanding traditional notions of communication in planning and development practice.”

The firm develops plans that are:

  • Technologically integrated: Applying emerging technologies such as sMap, a map-based outreach tool, to improve the planning process and allow for more effective recommendations.
  • Visually engaging: The firm develops all of its design in-house and creates highly illustrative and graphically compelling documents that serve to better communicate planning concepts.
  • Inclusionary outreach methods: The firm seeks to keep communities informed and provides transparency in the planning process. In almost every project, the firm creates a free website that helps to educate residents about ongoing projects.

“We strive to create stewardship by effectively engaging communities at all levels,” said John Houseal, Houseal Lavigne principal and cofounder. “We have worked with more than 200 communities across 13 states, having helped some of the nation’s most economically devastated communities as well as some of the most affluent.”

Since the firm was founded, its planners have been active in sharing their knowledge and furthering the profession of planning. By sponsoring, attending and presenting at conferences, training future certified planners, jurying student work, and leading mobile workshops, they have developed a distinctive and distinguished body of work.

The firm’s work has been recognized with multiple planning awards, including ten American Planning Association chapter awards in the last six years, downtown and commercial area planning awards from DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development (2008, 2012), the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce (GOBCC) Commercial Revitalization Award (2009), American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC IL) Studies and Research Award (2012), and the Kane County Plan of the Year Award (2013). “From the very beginning, we have prioritized creativity and implementation,” said Devin Lavigne, Houseal Lavigne principal and cofounder. “These foundations are instilled into everything we do.”

The Emerging Planning & Design Firm Award will be presented at APA’s National Planning Conference in Atlanta during a special luncheon on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The firm also will be profiled in an issue of Planning magazine, APA’s flagship publication.

For a list of all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.planning.org.

St. Charles Comp Plan Wins Award

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Headlines | No Comments

The City of St. Charles straddles the picturesque Fox River 40 miles west of the City of Chicago. It is a community with a rich history, an engaged citizenry, historic architecture, and strong sense of community pride. Since being settled in the early 19th century, St. Charles has gone from the camp of just a few Pottawatomie Indians, to an industrial and manufacturing center, and finally to a nationally recognized, family-oriented community.

STC Award Banner

In 1950, the population of St. Charles was only 6,709. Today, St. Charles boasts 32,974 citizens. People visit St. Charles for the weekend and then return for good. After searching the country for perfect places to call “home”, Family Circle placed St. Charles at the tope of its list of “Best Towns and Cities for families.” Click Here for the Article.

In 2012 the City hired Houseal Lavigne Associates to assist the community with an update to its Comprehensive Plan to uphold this mission statement – Preserve our heritage, foster opportunity, build community, and enhance quality of life for all.

The City’s previous Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1996 and with major changes in the community, including significant redevelopment within the downtown, the adoption of an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (2008) and an updated Zoning Ordinance (2006), an updated Comprehensive Plan was a priority.

The City’s new award-winning Comprehensive Plan sets a course to guide land use decision making for the next twenty years, ensuring that St. Charles continues to improve upon its legacy with an eye toward the future. The Comprehensive Plan provides more robust guidance for future development. Historically, St. Charles has experienced much of its growth through annexation. The City recognizes that this type of growth becomes less possible as the City matures, and that new forms of economic growth must be pursued. This plan provides guidance on these issues, as well as improved information on character and quality, including considerations for neo-traditional neighborhoods and vertically mixed land-uses.

The St. Charles Comprehensive Plan is featured in our Firm’s portfolio available here.

Making the “Big Idea” into a Viable Project

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Headlines | No Comments

 Many communities brainstorm “big ideas” and then immediately pursue plans, development regulations, incentive tools, etc. to achieve them.  But an all-in approach to development can lead to misplaced resources in projects that lack feasibility.  Planning efforts and due diligence on the front end of “big idea” projects focus resources on recommendations that are more realistic at the outset, avoiding projects that flounder and lose community support.  The workshop will feature a public official, regional planning agency representative, private developer, and planning consultants discussing their past experiences, how things can go wrong in the planning process, and what can be done to avoid missteps and create community inspired, market viable projects.



Dan Gardner, MPA, Principal Associate at Houseal Lavigne Associates, has extensive expertise and experience in planning, development, economic impacts, fiscal impacts, and market analysis in numerous markets throughout the United States and the Midwest in particular.

John P. Zediker, AICP, Partner/Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Ruettiger, Tonelli & Associates, Inc., has a wide range of experience including working in municipal planning and development departments, particularly working for a real estate development company directing the development of several large master planned residential communities, commercial developments and industrial properties.

Chris Aiston, Director of Economic Development for City of St. Charles, is involved with creating and implementing all activities associated with existing business retention and expansion, attracting new businesses to the City and overall advocacy for business-friendly city regulations and practices.

Trevor Dick, AICP, LEED AP, Senior Planner at CMAP, has more than 15 years experience working in both the private and public sector completing a variety of planning projects throughout the country.  As a senior planner with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Trevor manages a variety of planning assignments and project teams through the agency’s Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program.


WHEN:  Thursday, May 23, 2013, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

WHERE:  CMAP, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 800 [DuPage Room], Chicago IL

COST:  $15 paid at the door ($5 for students that RSVP by May 21st); checks payable to APA-CMS

RSVP:  To RSVP, please email cms@ilapa.org by May 21st

QUESTIONS:  For program questions, please contact the CMS Board at cms@ilapa.org

CM CREDITS:  Two (2) AICP CM Credits pending

FEEDBACK:     At the end of the program, please help us better shape our programming by providing feedback. Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CMS2013MAY to take a quick online survey.

2013 APA Conference

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in Headlines | No Comments

This year’s American Planning Association’s National Conference is being held right in our own backyard. To welcome fellow planners from across the country and help Chicago put its best foot forward, we decided to put even more effort than usual into our activities this year. Make sure you catch up with us at our presentations and mobile workshops, our exhibitor booth, or one of the scheduled social events.

HLA Attendees

  • John Houseal – Principal and co-founder
  • Devin Lavigne – Principal and co-founder
  • Dan Gardner – Principal Associate
  • Doug Hammel – Senior Associate
  • Brandon Nolin – Senior Associate
  • Nik Davis – Senior Associate
  • Ira Mabel – Associate
  • Danielle Ross – Marketing Coordinator


New Tools for Zoning and Development Visualization
HLA Presenters: Devin Lavigne and Nik Davis
Date and Time: Sunday April 14, 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm

Plans almost always include figures and photos to explain concepts and recommendations. Now zoning ordinances, design guidelines, and other regulatory tools are starting to follow suit. Learn about specific tools and techniques you can use to introduce graphics into codes and ordinances to make them more comprehensible. And gain a stronger understanding of how the move towards an online, transparent government has changed who is reading (and using) these documents.

Dissecting a Commercial Corridor
HLA Presenters: John Houseal and Devin Lavigne
Date and Time: Monday April 15, 10:30 am – 11:45 am

What are the issues and challenges associated with corridor planning? This session focuses on Ogden Avenue—a commercial corridor that passes through the Chicago region—to answer that question. Learn how this corridor has developed over six decades and how planners are retrofitting it to promote pedestrian access and cultivate a stronger sense of place.

Fast, Funny, and Passionate 2 & 3
HLA Presenter: Doug Hammel; Devin Lavigne
Date and Time: Monday April 15, 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.; Tuesday April 16, 7:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

These short, timed, 7-minute presentations take up overlooked topics in planning or delve into a passionate perspective on why planning matters. Hear planners open up about what excites them. Presenters discuss case studies, present personal perspectives, or provide an imaginative insight into planning. HLA's Doug Hammel will present “What is it we do again?!?” in session 2, and Devin Lavigne will present "Bad City Logos” in session 3.

AICP Examination Preparation (session registration required)
HLA Presenters: John Houseal, Devin Lavigne, Doug Hammel, and Brandon Nolin
Date and Time: Saturday April 14, 7:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Prepare for the AICP exam with the help of chapter professional development officers who offer tips and focused training in the exam format, content, and topic areas. Learn about the application process and gain insights for success.

Mobile Workshops

Lasting Legacy of the Columbian Exposition (session registration required)
HLA Presenters: Doug Hammel
Date and Time: Monday April 15, 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City highlights the tremendous impact of the Columbian Exposition, the event that brought planning to the forefront of urban development. See firsthand how this event defined the long-term growth of Hyde Park and Woodlawn—and how current development in those communities strives to balance contemporary practices with historic character. Stops include the Rookery Building (site of Burnham’s office) and many exposition sites.

Planners’ Day Off (session registration required)
HLA Presenters: Brandon Nolin
Date and Time: Monday April 15, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Follow in the footsteps of the characters in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and tour several of the sites they visited in this 1986 film. Learn about the real planning issues pertaining to iconic Chicago sites like Wacker Drive (sorry, no Ferraris on this trip) and the Chicago Riverwalk, Sears Tower (now Willis tower), Federal Plaza and State Street (route of the movie’s “Von Steuben Day Parade”) and Grant Park (home of the Art Institute and Millennium Park); explore the complex planning challenges a dynamic city like Chicago presents; and gain a deeper understanding of Chicago’s planning landscape.

Planning is a Team Sport (session registration required)
HLA Presenters: Dan Gardner
Date and Time: Tuesday April 16, 11:30 am – 4:00 pm

Explore the environs of three of Chicago’s major sports venues—Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, and the United Center—and learn how each venue has influenced surrounding development, including transportation enhancements. Discuss the challenges and opportunities planners encounter in balancing the needs of an existing neighborhood with the development potential presented by these venues and see how activity generators can serve as catalysts for neighborhood revitalization.

HLA Exhibitor Booth

Once again, HLA is an active sponsor of the APA, and will be hosting a booth in the exhibit hall. Come by to check out what’s been going on at HLA recently and to challenge us at our official office pastime, bubble hockey.

Downers Grove’s Comprehensive Plan wins Best Plan

Posted by on Sep 1, 2012 in Headlines | No Comments

The Comprehensive Plan for the Village of Downers Grove has won the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan by the American Planning Association's Illinois Chapter. The Village of Downers Grove is a community of over 48,000 located approximately 22 miles southwest of Chicago. Established in the early 1800s, Downers Grove has a rich past with established neighborhoods and a traditional downtown. The Village’s location along the BNSF railroad has been a significant source of growth and prosperity, first for freight and now commuter service. Downers Grove has obtained regional importance in the modern era due to its proximity to I-88 and I-355 and its three Metra stations which provide connections to downtown Chicago and service unparalleled by any neighboring communities.

The previous Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1965 and, since that time, Downers Grove has emerged as a regional employment center and major shopping and dining destination, having experienced significant population, economic, and physical growth. While past planning efforts focused on outward expansion, the Village is now in need of fresh guidance as a maturing community. The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan focuses recommendations on facilitating redevelopment and reinvestment within the heart of Downers Grove and better leveraging existing infrastructure and community assets.

The Award-Winning 2012 Comprehensive Plan covers a wide range of topics including residential areas, commercial areas, transportation, parks and open space, and community facilities. The recommendations are well-crafted and will help the Village guide Downers Grove toward a better quality of life with a more prosperous economic climate.

In a time of economic uncertainty, growth is no longer a given. Much of the future growth and investment within Downers Grove will have to occur within established commercial areas, employment centers, and neighborhoods. Moreover, many previously booming suburban communities are similar to Downers Grove in that they are now “built out” with a limited amount of land available for development. As such, the Comprehensive Plan’s focus on redevelopment and strategies for repositioning previously developed areas has potential for application in numerous communities throughout Illinois and beyond.

Despite a new focus on infill and redevelopment, the Comprehensive Plan also underscores the need to balance reinvestment with respecting the character of the Village’s existing commercial districts and neighborhoods. To ensure that such a balance can be struck, the Comprehensive Plan includes key focus area plans for five of the Village’s most important districts as economic generators and intensely developed areas of the community. Each focus area plan identifies key planning influences, key concepts and catalyst sites for redevelopment, and land use recommendations.