Lake Zurich has cost-effective ideas for downtown action plan
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Lake Zurich has a new plan to spur downtown redevelopment that includes recommendations to continue enhancing the area's appearance and offering special events to attract visitors.
Village Manager Jason Slowinski reviewed the plan at a meeting with elected officials this week. Titled "Moving Lake Zurich Forward: Six Point Downtown Action Plan," it focuses on swift, cost-effective ideas.
"Our goal has been to build momentum and continue to keep momentum going and creating a vibrant downtown environment," Slowinski said.
Downtown redevelopment has been a longtime issue in Lake Zurich. After months of feasibility studies, the village board in March 2002 approved boundaries for a special taxing district to lure developers to the downtown, but nothing significant has occurred because of the weak economy and other factors.
At the top of the list, the plan recommends enhancing the overall appearance of downtown. Among the suggestions are to enact minor streetscape improvements such as public art, aggressively enforce property maintenance standards and demolish village-owned buildings.
Some structures recently were removed after the village board authorized spending $115,800 on demolition work, followed by grooming and seeding of the parcels to make them more attractive for mixed-use projects.
As part of developing and promoting special events, the document called for support and an expansion of the Rock the Block all-ages bash that debuted Sept 14.
Rock the Block far exceeded village officials' expectations for an inaugural event by drawing an estimated 5,000 visitors for bands, food and more on Main Street, between Old Rand Road and Church Street.
Slowinski said the village should assist in promoting the venerable Alpine Festival staged downtown by the Lake Zurich Lions Club, continue supporting a classic automobile show and consider new, low-cost special and community events.
As for the other points, the document says Lake Zurich should engage in a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote downtown investment. That effort could include a downtown brand.
Lake Zurich also should concentrate on site-specific redevelopment prospects, in part, by proceeding with a request for developer credentials and proposals for a 2-acre lakefront site. The plan also calls for stabilizing and strengthening the long-term fiscal outlook of the special taxing district.
Stating that downtown redevelopment involved more than money and agreements, the plan says attention must be paid to intangibles. Celebrating success and managing expectations should be part of the work, the document states.
Trustee Jeff Halen and other officials said the six-point plan is a good foundation for boosting downtown's fortunes.
"Definitely, you can tell a lot of time and thought has gone into this," Halen said.
Slowinski said he intends to hire an economic development coordinator, and final interviews were conducted earlier his week.
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