Downtown strategic planning meeting held tonight

Todd Battle, president of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) opened the meeting, which was held at the Kenosha Public Museum earlier this evening.  This was the third and final interactive workshop in relation to the downtown Kenosha strategic development plan.  There were over 100 residents, business owners, and civic officials present.

A presentation was made by The Lakota Group representatives, and other organizations such as the Goodman Williams Group, Ty Lin International, Clue Group, Josh Bloom, and Carolyn Dellutri.  Click here if you’d like to view the entire presentation for yourself:  Presentation.  After the presentation, the audience was then broken up into groups based on the number shown on their name tags, and asked to provide their feedback on certain concepts.  Tonight, The Lakota Group wanted to collect residents’ input on their plans.

“The overall goal of the project,” said Daniel Grove, associate principal for The Lakota Group, “was to create a shared vision with input and feedback from the community.”

The second workshop, which was held at the Rhode Center on May 24, hosted 165 people providing their input on ranking 22 concepts.  The top concept winners were providing branding of the downtown identity, increasing population density in the area, creating an indoor market, promoting “Made in Kenosha” retail, and creating a downtown management entity.

Also, there were 304 surveys completed on-line.  Eighty-seven percent (87%) did not attend the second workshop.  The top winners from the survey were branding, increasing downtown higher density, and an indoor market (very similar to those provided at the workshop itself).

Three basic categories of emphasis were:

  • Management;
  • Branding, Marketing and Promotion; and
  • Development.

Dellutri, as the executive director of Evanston, Illinois, for four years, relayed how important it is to have one entity in charge to serve as the liaison with business owners and property owners.  One organization should serve as the “placeholder” for all other organizations to work together.  She gave information on the “Main Street Program,” which consists of four components, with the acronym, DOPE:

  1. Design;
  2. Organization;
  3. Promotion; and
  4. Economic Restructuring.

She shared pictures of Evanston’s logo and slogan, “Where Chicago and the North Shore Meet.”  Included are gift cards, shopping bags, posters, and mobile applications.

The preliminary downtown plan covers 575 acres, broken down into seven districts.  The focused improvement zone was cut to 165 acres between 52nd Street, 6th Avenue, Sheridan Road, and 54th and 56th Streets.  The primary investment zone covers only 35 acres.

It is believed that a key site is needed to link the north and south, such as a 10-story building, to create a skyline for the city of Kenosha, possibly an indoor market or a Corporate headquarters.  Also discussed were alternative city hall sites.

Sixth Avenue and 54th Street was seen as the “heart of the city.”  Envisioned was a new outdoor park, and a festival/concert/market space where movies in the park could be shown.  Other ideas were an ice rink and a tot lot.

Other ideas discussed were Metra Station enhancements, commercial infill, a parking deck, and the rehabilitation of buildings such as the Heritage House/Elk’s Club, the Kenosha Theatre, and the Masonic Temple.  The representatives also urged the city to use the grant dollars that are available for the streetcars before they expire.

After the presentation, the crowd broke into small discussion groups and debated their thoughts and priorities for how to proceed with the changes in downtown Kenosha.  Each group then shared their discussions at the end of the meeting.

The final report will be provided to the Common Council at the end of August.

To read prior articles on this topic, click here:  Follow-Up Survey by The Lakota Group, and Downtown Strategic Development Plan Meeting Report.

To see more details of the downtown study, click on The Lakota Group’s website, thelakotagroup.com/kenosha.

 

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