Antioch asking residents how to improve its downtown

  • A survey of why people visit Antioch's downtown and what they would like to see there is underway. The results will help form the basis of a strategic plan for the village's downtown.

      A survey of why people visit Antioch's downtown and what they would like to see there is underway. The results will help form the basis of a strategic plan for the village's downtown. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • A Shoppers Guide map can be viewed in various downtown Antioch locations. Village officials recently launched a survey asking residents why they visit downtown and what would draw them there more often.

      A Shoppers Guide map can be viewed in various downtown Antioch locations. Village officials recently launched a survey asking residents why they visit downtown and what would draw them there more often. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • The former BJ's men's store on the east side of Main Street is among the vacancies in the downtown Antioch that village officials hope to see filled soon.

      The former BJ's men's store on the east side of Main Street is among the vacancies in the downtown Antioch that village officials hope to see filled soon. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/30/2017 3:30 PM

Planners refer to the steeple of United Methodist Church of Antioch as a 'terminal vista' and a key visual element of the downtown.

"It's unique. We're very proud of that," said Michael Garrigan, the village's community development director.

 

With that as a bookend and a canopy of trees and old buildings, downtown has the classic visual character of another era.

What's lacking is a modern purpose, as business owners retire and new uses are sought.

Village officials hoping to enhance downtown vitality have commissioned a shopping and dining survey to get a handle on what might work. The hope is for 1,000 or more responses to determine what residents like or dislike and what they want to see downtown.

"We think our downtown is in transition," Garrigan said. "We're creating a new type of downtown. I call it a destination place where people go for entertainment and restaurants."

The shopping and dining survey is part of a plan to determine what's right and wrong with downtown Antioch and decide how best to proceed. the Among its questions, the survey asks how often in a month respondents visit commercial areas in Gurnee, Libertyville, Lake Geneva and Kenosha, and how frequently they shop online.

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The responses will be compiled and analyzed by Business Districts Inc., an Evanston-based consulting firm. Diane Williams, a former banker and assistant state coordinator for the Illinois Main Street program, is a director with the firm and working with the village.

"We hired her to create a plan for us and a strategy of what to do in the downtown," said village Trustee Mary Dominiak, the board's liaison for economic development. "The purpose of the survey is to see what people are looking for in Antioch."

An online version of the survey is on the village website, www.antioch.il.gov, and Facebook page. Hard copies are available at various businesses, as well as the library and senior center. About 800 surveys have been completed so far.

Antioch has been a member of the Main Street national organization and had been considering a local version. That has been put on hold to survey residents, according to Dominiak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Once we have the data, we can revisit the Main Street concept," she said.

The goal is to have a downtown plan in place sometime this summer that will help increase foot traffic and attract new business, Garrigan said.

An ad hoc committee of downtown business owners and local officials has been meeting about once a month over the past year, but the public's voice was needed, Dominiak added.

"We can't make an impact on downtown by just having the business owners and government involved," she said.

The effort is part of a multi-prong economic development strategy for the village, which also focuses on corridors outside the central area.

@dhmickzawislak

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