CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday officially nominated Maurice Cox for Chicago Commissioner of Planning and Development.
Cox most recently held the same position in Detroit.
“It is time that the city focuses on development that is directed throughout every community and into areas that have been overlooked for decades,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a news release. “Maurice Cox is uniquely qualified to help create a city where development addresses the fundamental needs of every neighborhood so that Chicago benefits and equitably works for all its residents.”
Cox’s hiring was first announced late last month.
Cox has taught at Syracuse University, the University of Virginia, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, according to the Mayor’s office. He also served as associate dean for community engagement at Tulane University and the director of the Tulane City Center in New Orleans.
Cox was also mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia from 2002 to 2004, and also served in various other municipal government roles in Charlottesville, the Mayor’s office said.
In Detroit, Cox developed a new and resident-centered planning and development department, and focused on the equitable redevelopment of neighborhoods as he implemented planning strategies intended to foster the city’s revitalization.
In a 2016 article, Architect Magazine writer Karrie Jacobs wrote that Cox, then relatively new to the Detroit post, was considered to be a “phenomenon” within urban planning circles as he executed a vision to remake Detroit.
The article noted that former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s administration had focused city planning efforts on dividing the city’s neighborhoods into categories of “steady, transitional, and distressed,” and withdrawing city services such as street lights and ambulances from the worst-off parts of the city.
That changed after Detroit went bankrupt and elected Mayor Mike Duggan, who appointed Cox, Jacobs wrote. With the dramatic population loss in Detroit having stopped, Cox introduced a new approach in which distressed neighborhoods were no longer cut off, but instead linked with adjacent neighborhoods that were in better shape, Jacobs wrote.
Cox also focused on how vacant land could be an asset for uses such as urban agriculture – saying the goal would be to develop neighborhoods where people want to live because food is being grown in them, the article said.
He also engaged the famed firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to redevelop parts of downtown Detroit – including a 57-acre patch that was cleared in the 1990s for a casino that was never built, Jacobs wrote.
In the Chicago Mayor’s office news release, Cox expressed excitement at heading to the Windy City.
“Chicago is one of the most architecturally beautiful and inspiring cities in the world,” Cox said in the release. “It is an honor to join Mayor Lightfoot’s team in our effort to harness the creative energy and resources that presently fuel the resurgence of downtown and expand it to all neighborhoods to create a more equitable and just city.”
Eleanor Gorski has served as acting Planning and Development commissioner since Mayor Lightfoot took office, and will remain with the department as first deputy, the Mayor’s office said.