The face of downtown Mount Prospect has changed radically during the past 20 years with the arrival of new condos, stores, restaurants and civic buildings.
Now, the region is under close study once again, as local leaders try to keep the development momentum moving forward.
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The Lakota Group, a Chicago-based consultant that has assisted with many other suburban redevelopment plans, is working with the village and the Regional Transportation Authority on a comprehensive study of the downtown, one that will examine transit opportunities in the area, the viability of remaining vacant parcels, and community preferences for future development. The study is in the second of three phases right now, and it should be completed this summer, Community Development Director Bill Cooney said. The village will use a grant of up to $100,000 from the RTA to help pay for the study.
"It's good to take a step back and give the area a fresh look," he said. "It should help prevent the activity in the downtown from stalling out."
At a community open house held in September, residents suggested a number of things they would like to see downtown.
Some asked for a smaller grocery store, like a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Others called for more pedestrian-oriented landscaping and open space.
Residents also urged village leaders to focus on the Prospect Avenue corridor south of the railroad tracks, a comment that resonated with the village's consultant.
"That's one of the challenges we face, because you have a downtown that is essentially cut in half by the railroad tracks," said Kevin Clark, a vice president with the Lakota Group.
"Much of the 'action' so far has taken place north of the tracks, and there might be a perception among residents that that's where they should spend all their time. We're looking for ways to bridge that divide, both physically and in terms of public perception."
Another community meeting about the downtown is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 21, at village hall, 50 S. Emerson St. That meeting will include a presentation and discussion of additional development and land-use ideas.
"We're really happy with how things have gone so far," Clark said.
"The residents been very responsive, and we look forward to the next public discussion on this."
For information about the February meeting or the downtown study in general, go to http://thelakotagroup.com/mountprospect or call village planner Nellie Beckner at (847) 818-5312.