NY planner hired to run Lightfoot’s Invest South/West

Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development names Claudia Herasme Alfonso to a new role supervising a bureau for neighborhood programs.

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Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development names Claudia Herasme Alfonso to a new role supervising a bureau for neighborhood programs.

Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development names Claudia Herasme Alfonso to a new role supervising a bureau for neighborhood programs.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration has taken a bite out of the Big Apple to hire an executive who will help implement the Invest South/West initiative.

Claudia Herasme Alfonso, a longtime city planner in New York, has been hired for the new position of managing deputy commissioner, the city’s Department of Planning and Development said Friday. She will oversee the department’s new Planning and Design Bureau.

“Claudia’s approach to neighborhood planning builds long-lasting relationships that always reflect the values of the communities she serves,” said Lightfoot’s planning commissioner, Maurice Cox. “She’s a gifted communicator with deep experience in translating aspirations into detailed actions that get done.”

The new bureau will oversee planning efforts in six regions across the city, each with its own coordinator. The initiative revived neighborhood planning schemes of years ago that were abandoned during belt-tightening of past mayors. Budget documents indicate Alfonso will be paid $135,000 annually.

Responsibilities for the bureau will include Invest South/West, Lightfoot’s plan to revitalize 10 neighborhoods on the South and West sides with $750 million in public works spending over the next three years.

Alfonso said she was attracted to Chicago because it is adopting a fresh approach to planning inspired by input from communities. The challenge, she said, is, “How do we support that but also create ownership for their own space in the city?”

She said Cox has reorganized the department to put its focus on neglected areas and to deliver results faster.

Alfonso has worked for New York City’s Department of City Planning for 17 years in numerous capacities and has been its chief urban designer since 2017. She has been involved in public space design, commercial corridor revitalization and land use planning. She had prime roles in waterfront development projects and in publishing a guide to urban design principles for New York City.

She starts her new job Nov. 9. Alfonso holds a master of science in architecture and urban design from Columbia University and an architecture degree from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She speaks English, Spanish and French.

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