Itasca moving into planning stage of downtown redevelopment
Itasca officials have signaled they are ready to move forward with the second phase of their downtown redevelopment plan.
Officials met in late November to discuss their next steps -- gauging public interest in plans to improve Itasca's downtown area from a proposal crafted back in February. Now, the next step is determining how to make concepts and ideas discussed this past September into an actual proposal.
The areas being focused on include Walnut Avenue, which is the traditional core of downtown Itasca, and Catalpa Avenue, which officials envision as a new focus area that can contribute to the downtown area's vibrancy.
Mayor Jeff Pruyn has proposed creating a performing arts theater, building condos and drawing restaurants and retail stores, among other ideas.
"To me, there's a few good ideas that will be interesting," Pruyn said. "But I want something that can get built, and that's what they're working through right now."
The purpose of the redevelopment plan is to create a vision for downtown Itasca and the surrounding area that leverages existing transportation facilities and infrastructure, real estate development opportunities, and community involvement for residents and visitors.
Earlier this year, the village bought Kean's Bakery on Walnut Street for $500,000, to make way for future redevelopment in that space.
Pruyn, noting that transit-oriented development is becoming much more common in suburban redevelopment plans, said the ultimate proposal incorporate the Metra station and add more walking and bike paths.
The village is doing this in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority along with the support of The Lakota Group, Fish Transportation Group and Market & Feasibility Advisors.
Ideas will continue to be discussed at a Dec. 9 committee meeting. A community open house forum is scheduled for Jan. 13.