Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approves funding for placemaking project at Central Plaza

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ELKHART (March 12, 2019) – After months of community input, the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission approved funding Tuesday for a phase one placemaking project on Elkhart’s Civic Plaza and Central Park (Central Plaza). The goal of the project, which kicked-off in August, is to facilitate better utilization of the space – both daily and during events – and create a vibrant civic gathering place.

This positive vote by the Redevelopment Commission will provide necessary funding for design team Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) to begin design and construction documents for Phase One of the project. Phase One will include the most popular features identified through public input, primarily focusing on enhancements to the public green space. This will include a permanent stage, a public restroom facility, a shaded seating area, and improvements to Waterfall Drive. The improvements to Waterfall Drive will allow for the best of both worlds, making the area more convenient for hosting downtown events while allowing traffic flow to continue when events are not taking place. These enhancements will also reduce the need to close Main Street and provide increased access to businesses along this major corridor by focusing street closures on Waterfall.  

Since the process began in August, approximately 250 interested members of the community have participated in public input sessions, online surveys, and various stakeholder meetings. Pending contract approval by Elkhart’s Board of Public Works, design work on Phase One is anticipated to begin in April, followed by additional community engagement and completion of Schematic Design in May. 

The total preliminary project budget for Phase One is estimated at $5 million, including construction costs, contingency, and design fees. At the outset of the planning process, the Redevelopment Commission indicated their willingness to support a total budget of $1.5 million for this project, inclusive of all expenses and paid by the downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue. TIF is generated by local property tax investments in designated areas in the City and must be used to fund local public improvements in the same area. Staff intends to pursue grant opportunities to make up the difference in funding. Additional fundraising efforts may also be necessary.

Construction on Phase One is anticipated to break ground by the end of 2019.

 

For more information, visit www.elkhartcivicplaza.com.

Shelley Moore