By Ted Schnell • BocaJump | Tuesday, April 10, 2012
All it will take is two City Council votes on Wednesday night to launch the $10 million rebirth of Riverside Drive into the Riverside Promenade, which has been years in the planning.
“The long-awaited, much-anticipated Riverside Drive project officially will begin if the council sees fit to do this,” City Manager Sean Stegall said Monday.
The city has received two state grants totaling $9 million for the project, and plans to use another $1 million in downtown tax increment financing funds to pay for the project, which by far is the largest single capital expenditure before the City Council so far this year.
Stegall said council approval of two items on Wednesday will assure work on the project can start in June, with completion expected in late 2013. Stegall said the project could be completed more quickly, but only if there are no unforeseen complications. Projects this large, he continued, frequently do have complications.
The council is set to vote Wednesday on a construction management contract with Illinois Hydraulic Construction Companies LLC to ensure proper bidding and construction of the promenade, which will begin with the removal of the existing deck. The new promenade and streetscape will run along Riverside Drive between Chicago and Prairie streets.
The council then will be asked to approve a $499,044 engineering services agreement with Hitchcock Design Group, which designed the promenade, to coordinate the work, ensure the design is followed and assist administer the project.
Background on the project that was provided to the City Council shows the Riverside Promenade was included in the 1999 Riverfront/City Master Plan, which was developed by Hitchcock Design Group. Interest in the project intensified after a portion of the deck collapsed in 2003.
The city has been awarded an $8 million state Rivers Edge Redevelopment Zone program grant and $1million in appropriations from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program for the 3 construction of the Riverside Drive Promenade. The remaining $1,500,000 will be funded with tax increment financing funds from within the Central Area TIF district.
The promenade is a key part of Elgin’s riverfront revitalization and is intended to encourage more redevelopment, public space and transportation projects. Riverside Promenade involves the complete redevelopment of the Riverside Drive right-of-way and the adjacent parking deck into an urban riverfront plaza connected to Elgin’s Festival Park. It will create a large urban park right next to the downtown retail corridor with the goal of adding new commercial buildings to nearby empty lots.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced in October 2010 that the state would provide an $8 million River Edge Redevelopment grant to the city. The project to create an urban riverfront plaza was to be funded through the state’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.The city’s receipt of the grant was delayed, however, when the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity placed a hold on the grant, saying the city had failed to provide a key piece of paperwork five years ago related to a $100,000 grant. The city was able to persuade the state the paperwork was not needed.