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Elkhart community hears about River District plan

ELKHART, Ind. -  Project leaders outlined the River District redevelopment plan to a crowd of hundreds Thursday night. The multi-million dollar plan is set to transform the 'less desirable' district into a destination.

“Our rivers are still largely unsung...so I’m very dedicated to downtown and very excited about this expansion," said one Elkhart homeowner and business owner, Steve Gruber."

The goal is to make Elkhart more walkable.

“It was a community who saw a lot happening in a single spot but realizing there was nothing to connect it all together,so you had the aquatic center coming, a huge investment; you had Martin’s planning to make an investment in a new grocery store; you had a bunch of housing coming—but they were each kind of these floating islands within a few hundred meters of each other but not in any way relating or communicating with each other," said city planner Jeff Speck.

These urban experts agree that the skilled workers companies are after want to live in well-connected areas.
“As opposed to most of my life when people went where jobs were. Today jobs and investment go where skilled and educated workers want to be, because these folks have choices," said urban planner and designer, David Dixon.

Part of the plan gives these workers living choices they've never had before.
“The annual market potential for the downtown and the district is about 1,000 households a year over the next five years...which is largely young people, millennials in particular and older singles and couples, baby boomers, and they are a sizeable market here, and as I said largely untapped," said residential market analyst, Laurie Volk.

Planners are making sure to tap into the pulse of the community.
“Great minds are for it, but they’re also asking for input. It’s not like ‘we’re the grownups and we’re going to impose this.’ They’re actually saying, ‘what do you think? what’s missing? What can you add?’ you know I’m excited," said Gruber.

Once they piece through all the community suggestions, the final plan will be presented in April.

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