This document represents Volume II of the Ottawa, Illinois Comprehensive Plan. This Volume II document is a detailed Sub-Area plan for Ottawa’s Downtown. Volume I of the Ottawa Comprehensive Plan includes a Future Land Use Map and planning goals and objectives covering the area within Ottawa’s corporate limits, as well as the land areas outside the corporate limits including the one and one half mile planning jurisdiction. The Volume I, Comprehensive Plan document also includes five Sub-Area Plans for specific locations that require a greater level of detail planning. This detailed Sub-Area Plan, Volume II, is limited to Ottawa’s Central Business District (CBD) and nearby adjacent residential areas, and includes measures to preserve and enhance the cultural and historical heritage, while promoting the economic potential within the downtown. This document will provide direction to the City of Ottawa to promote a continuous positive evolution of Ottawa’s downtown in a manner that retains the downtown’s vital role as the heart of the entire community.

The intent of both volumes of the Comprehensive Plan is to provide direction for decisions related to the future growth and development of the City of Ottawa. The Plan provides the basis for rational decision-making, but does not replace the decision-making process, nor does it take the place of the City’s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances and other ordinances regulating the use and development of land in Ottawa. It establishes a vision for development within the community and describes policies, programs and projects that will enable the vision to be realized. The Comprehensive Plan helps local officials coordinate their decisions so they can anticipate how one decision may impact another. The Plan is also a key reference point and basis for establishing, amending and interpreting regulatory tools.

As most communities, Ottawa has its own strengths and areas for improvement. Among the strengths that define the City of Ottawa are its rich history, its location in LaSalle County, and specifically the downtown area located at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers, which provide scenic views and recreational opportunities. Additional strengths of the Central Business District include a very intact inventory of Victorian era architecture with a diverse mixture of retail and office space, numerous financial institutions, city, county, state and federal governmental institutions, as well as a number of churches, civic clubs and several schools adjacent to the downtown area.

A truly unique dynamic of the location of this diverse downtown area is the fact that the south and east boundaries are defined by the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers. This not only has created a physical boundary which continues to keep the historic central business district intact, but has created an opportunity for downtown businesses to remain immediately adjacent to not one, but two substantial recreation and scenic corridors.

As a foundation for planning, goals for the community were formulated to guide the preparation of the Plan. Community goals are general statements that indicate the type of community that is desired. The development of goals and the implementation of policies are the keys to the success of the Comprehensive Plan.

Goals and objectives were formulated using recommendations for the future and information gathered from the community. These objectives and recommendations for future actions have been used to form each element of the plan.

It should be mentioned that in order to achieve some of the goals specified in the Comprehensive Plan, more detailed studies will be needed. These additional studies will provide the necessary detail and direction needed to meet those goals and should be adopted as amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.

The goals formulated to guide the preparation of this planning document for Ottawa’s downtown are:

Revitalize and preserve Ottawa’s downtown architectural heritage and traditional downtown atmosphere
Encourge a vibrant cultural atmosphere and public involvement in downtown
Promote public and private investment in the future of downtown
Reinforce the sense of historical continuity and unique character and setting of downtown Ottawa
Increase and promote residential uses in Ottawa’s downtown