What do you want to see in Des Plaines' Metropolitan Square?

  • Des Plaines officials are soliciting the public's input on ways to improve the visibility of Metropolitan Square, a mixed-use development in the city's downtown.

      Des Plaines officials are soliciting the public's input on ways to improve the visibility of Metropolitan Square, a mixed-use development in the city's downtown. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, September 2012

 
 
Posted6/9/2015 5:30 AM

Community events, water features and even a gazebo are some of the ideas that have been proposed to draw more people to Metropolitan Square in Des Plaines.

City officials and a consultant have been researching ways to increase the visibility of the downtown mixed-use development, which has been criticized as hard to find even though it's only a block north of Miner Street.

 

Next week, they're expected to reveal their initial design suggestions for the empty 5,870-square-foot, city-owned half circle in the middle of the development and the Metropolitan Way street entrance that leads from Miner.

The city has received some 400 responses in an online survey of residents and visitors about what they would like to see at the Metropolitan Square plaza. It held three meetings at businesses attended by as many as 30 people.

The online survey, available at surveymonkey.com/s/MetroSquare, asks whether additional seating, more landscaping, a shade structure, water feature, public art, or more events and activities should be added to the plaza. It also asks whether there's a "visual connection" between Metropolitan Square and Miner Street.

People will be able to provide their input one more time at the city's booth during the Taste of Des Plaines, planned for Friday and Saturday near the train station.

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So far, respondents have expressed a strong interest in more events at the plaza -- from magicians to orchestras -- said George Sakas, the city's director of community and economic development.

"We're seeing so far that, 'Yeah, it's nice to have a nice space, but it has to be usable,'" Sakas said. "Maybe Mom can go work out (at Elite Training and Fitness) and the kids can hang out with frozen yogurt and there's some place to grab their attention for a half-hour."

The occupancy rate of Metropolitan Square is now 65 percent, thanks to the opening last month of the Forever Yogurt shop.

And final inspections are expected soon before the opening of a Giordano's carryout location, Sakas said.

The pizzeria won't be a full-fledged restaurant but instead will have about four small tables and offer pickup and delivery. The franchisee spent about $190,000 to remodel the 1,000-square-foot storefront, Sakas said.

Metropolitan Square, which opened in 2006, also is home to the Shop & Save grocery store, Tap House Grill, Panera Bread and Potbelly. Those tenants pay rent to the development's owner, World Class Capital Group.

The city is paying its consultant, The Lakota Group, $33,000 to develop conceptual and preliminary designs for the city plaza and the Metropolitan Way entrance.

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