1) What is the difference between the North Whittaker Street Redevelopment Plan and the Master Plan that are both being discussed and worked on concurrently?
The North Whittaker Street redevelopment plan is only one of the projects completed within the overall Master Plan. While some of the design elements of this project should complement the planning decisions for the entire city, the North Whittaker Project is specific to the business district's needs. The Master Plan is a community based vision document that includes the entire land area of the city. It will help guide decisions for public and private property land use for the next ten years.
2) Does the Master Plan have to be completed before the North Whittaker Street redevelopment plan begins?
The North Whittaker Street redevelopment plan can begin prior to completion of the Master Plan. It is expected that the Master Plan will be approved in the 1st quarter of 2016. The city will oversee both projects on parallel paths. This will allow for some shared resources and improve the end product of both plans. The firm hired to complete the Master Plan is also assisting in the design component of the North Whittaker Street redevelopment plan. This is a unique opportunity to apply lessons learned from the redevelopment plan that will assist in updating the Master Plan.
3) What does the North Whittaker Street Redevelopment Plan include?
This plan will include replacement of the failing underground infrastructure, landscaping, sidewalks, lighting and streets. The streetscape part of this project will include public seating, café seating, artwork, signage, seasonal plants, trees, and historical markers. An important consideration for this plan includes seasonal needs, including boat transport, snow and leaf removal and pedestrian safety, including those with disabilities. Important goals for this project are improved non-motorized transportation usage, long term cost and energy efficient maintenance and safe pedestrian pathways.
4) How will the Master Plan and North Whittaker Street Redevelopment be funded?
The funding sources for both projects will come from a variety of contributions. It is expected that the city will provide a sizeable contribution from bond financing, allocated Pokagon fund reserves, water and sewer capital funds, street paving/general funds from the utility and street improvement. Additional funding will be sought from state and federal grant opportunities.
5) Why is the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) driving all the downtown work as opposed to the City? What are the specific roles of the DDA and the City with regard to downtown planning?
The North Whittaker Street redevelopment plan will require a joint effort of all of the City commissions and boards. The CIty Planning Commission will provide input and help synchronize the design in conjunction with the Master Plan. The entire City staff will participate in this project with a focus on infrastructure replacement, reduced street maintenance and public safety. The DDA's mission is to improve economic conditions in the DDA district. The DDA will play a lead role in this project because it has a direct impact on all business owners in this district. This project is intended to improve business opportunity and property values through improved economic conditions.