|Implementation of the Plan|
Adoption of the Ottawa Downtown Plan
does not mark the end of the comprehensive planning process. Rather,
it should be viewed as the beginning of the real effort to achieve the
community vision. This document has identified numerous implementation
strategies in each of the various plan elements needing to be initiated
and completed. Many of these implementation strategies will be ongoing
activities. All of the implementation strategies will require the City
to commit various resources to the effort.
The Plan should not be revised on a
whim. Nor should the Plan be considered the absolute final word. It
is difficult and, sometimes, bewildering for communities to engage in
a large number of plan implementation initiatives. The ability to sustain
numerous ongoing implementation measures is difficult for most communities.
The recommended approach to plan implementation is to establish priorities
in order to focus the City’s resources and energy on accomplishing the
most important initiatives first. Following are sixteen initiatives
identified by the Plan Commission as implementation strategies.
The City will need to revise the City Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision
Ordinance in order to make them consistent with the recommendations of
the Ottawa Downtown Plan. New ordinance regulations should be created
and adopted to allow the types of special zoning considerations necessary
to evolve Ottawa’s downtown as envisioned. Updated regulations will need
to consider mixed-use structures, vertical zoning regulations, and parking
standards that may be addressed at a municipal level.
A traffic study must be completed for the Downtown area to quantify traffic movement and directions. This study will be utilized to proceed with a detailed design to move the southbound Illinois Route 23 transient traffic to Clinton Street and to make the modifications to LaSalle Street as described in previous chapters.
Main Street Programs are designed to improve all aspects of the downtown
or Central Business District. Improving the economic management, strengthening
public participation, and making downtown a fun place to visit are as
critical to the Main Street or downtown’s future as recruiting new businesses,
rehabilitating buildings, and expanding parking. Main Street programs
build on the downtown’s assets, architecture, personal service and traditional
A detailed parking survey must be completed on a block-by-block basis to determine the needs for expanding or revising parking. This survey will also provide data on the best location of future parking lots/decks.
A detailed architectural survey must be completed by a licensed architect on a block-by-block basis to gain a comprehensive analysis of individual structures. This analysis will provide data to make decisions on issues related to rehabilitation, remodeling, adaptive re-use or building replacement.
Following the completion of the detailed architectural survey, architectural guidelines must also be completed to establish standards for exterior building designs to be harmonious with the Victorian Era original Main Street in Ottawa. These guidelines should educate owners and designers about the history and content of Ottawa’s Main Street building heritage, and establish criteria for building facade massing, proportion and window placement. The guidelines should address both preservation issues and design of new structures. The design of new structures should allow for contemporary expression of design and detailing, while making allowances for compatibility with existing historic structures.
An assessment of the existing conditions of the riverfront, defining the eastern and southern boundaries of the downtown area, should be completed. A detailed comprehensive riverfront plan should be assembled to identify potential public acquisitions, potential for additional trail connections from the river edges to the downtown pedestrian walks and opportunities to create and enhance key views from the downtown to the rivers. A comprehensive riverfront plan should address proposed re-use and enhancement of the riverfront to include new and upgraded park areas, and public spaces for events and entertainment. Consideration should be given to an adaptive reuse/redevelopment of the Central School site if the property becomes available. The Central School building and site could include a conversion into restaurants, a cultural civic center, corporate offices, or a combination of each. The rest of the site could be converted into multifamily residential and or single-family residential developments with a marina along the north bank of the Illinois River.
Streetscape improvements should be continued and expanded on a block-byblock basis on the major block of the downtown. This can be accomplished by adding street trees, street furniture, landscaping where possible and civic art, and creating guidelines to promote attractive signage.
Initiate a facade improvement program on a block-by-block basis. This begins with completion of architectural assessments and preliminary facade design of an entire block of building facades. A program is then developed to create design and construction standards and to define the private/public partnership. Many times the public sector will produce the preliminary architecture designs, and then provide a matching grant to assist a property owner with facade improvements. This incentive program can be very successful to initiate improvements in a manner that insures that improvements will contribute to the streetscape.
The Downtown Ottawa Comprehensive Loan Program should be promoted to inform businesses of the potential financial assistance that has been offered by local banks. The Loan Program is a new project initiated by Ottawa Savings Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Yorkville National Bank, First National Bank of Ottawa and Union Bank. The five banks have agreed to provide a pool of loan funds to encourage individuals to invest in the downtown area. The program encourages local businesses and building owners to rehabilitate their buildings or to develop new properties in the downtown TIF district of Ottawa. The Downtown Ottawa Comprehensive Loan Program offers applicants loans at attractive terms. This program places these five local financial institutions at the forefront of the development in the downtown area and further demonstrates their commitment to the revitalization of downtown Ottawa.
An apartment licensing program should be adopted to establish minimum criteria for apartment uses in terms of occupancy ratings and building code standards. A licensing program allows the city to maintain a list of property owners or managers for each building, maintain a map of the location and quality of apartments, and to understand the inventory of existing rental units to assist decision making for creating new rental units within the downtown area. The Apartment Licensing Program is implemented by having all residential rental property owners complete a survey to verify compliance with building code standards. The survey also includes information about the number of units, the number of occupants, the owner or manager contact information as well as other relevant data. Apartments are periodically inspected to ensure compliance to building codes and licensing regulation as adopted by the city.
A program should be developed to coordinate and manage the downtown
area, to collectively promote the downtown shops, promote special events,
and provide input in land use and redevelopment decisions. It should also
assist business owners in promoting services and products, develop a plan
for coordinated snow removal (including snow removal in front of vacant
buildings), develop a plan for the installation and ongoing maintenance
for landscaping including urban forestry for tree installation and maintenance.
The City established a development design review process on March 5,
2002. Ordinance number 09-2002 created a design review committee and provided
procedures for its operation. The Design Review Committee was established
with a Building Department Official, Director of Community Development,
City Engineer, City Planner, Water Department Assistant Superintendent,
Sewer Department Assistant Superintendent, Street Department Assistant
Superintendent, Police Chief, Fire Chief, a member of the Plan Commission,
a member of the Tree Board, and an architect appointed by the Mayor and
approved by the Council for two years.
The City has hired a full time City Planner to be a member of the staff. The Planner is required to handle a variety of assignments in this department including code enforcement, preparing and implementing planning programs, and assisting the City Council and Plan Commission on issues related to proposed developments and applications. The Planner will also write staff reviews on projects and applications dealing with zoning to help guide the City Council and Plan Commission.
Because the capital improvement plan, or program, is intended to guide
the City’s investments in infrastructure and capital outlays over the
foreseeable future, this budgeting tool should be established and updated
regularly. The capital improvement plan usually contains a detailed estimate
of facilities’ costs and a prioritizing of the most critical needs over
an extended period of time, usually five or six years. The City Council
and administration consults the capital improvement plan during preparation
of the City’s annual operating budget in order to fund the highest priority
Although the Downtown Plan is an adopted policy document, changing conditions
and community values will make it necessary to re-examine the various
goals and objectives and implementation strategies included in it. Technical
data will be updated as new information becomes available. It is good
practice to review and update the Downtown Plan periodically, and the
Plan Commission should make it its mission to review the Plan every year
and report to the City Council whether changes or amendments should be