Elgin residents soon will see the results of a $10.5 million project completed without any local tax dollars.
City Council members gave preliminary approval to construction and engineering services agreements for the Riverside Promenade project during the special committee meeting Wednesday. The vote sets the stage for progress on a project that has been in the works since 2003, when part of the Riverside Drive parking deck collapsed. Naperville-based Hitchcock Design Group started outlining the proposed promenade in 2006 and has been plodding forward with permitting and a funding search ever since.
"The long awaited, much anticipated Riverside Drive project officially will begin," said City Manager Sean Stegall.
The vast majority of the money -- $8 million -- will come from the River's Edge Redevelopment Zone program, a statewide pool of funds set aside for riverfront redevelopment efforts in several cities including Aurora and Rockford. Another $1 million is in grant money from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program with the remaining $1.5 million from Elgin's Central Area Tax Increment Financing district fund.
A portion of property taxes within a TIF district are collected and saved in a special fund for future development. That money can only be used in the TIF district in which it was collected, with the goal being to steadily improve the area.
Mark Underwood, of Hitchcock Design Group, said the project will extend riverwalk improvements from Festival Park to the Civic Center riverfront area and incorporate elements to maintain consistency with the ongoing downtown streetscape project. Planters, LED lighting and permeable pavement will add environmentally friendly touches to the design with overlooks spaced along the walkway.
Walt Dwyer, a project executive with IHC Construction, said construction will start June 15 and be completed by June 2013.
Council members will have to give final approval to the construction and engineering agreements at the April 25 City Council meeting before the funds will be released.
"I'm excited to see this project moving forward," Councilwoman Anna Moeller said Wednesday. "It's going to be a great addition to our downtown."