Elkhart River District one step closer to revitalization; public presentation planned

NOW: Elkhart River District one step closer to revitalization; public presentation planned


ELKHART, Ind. -- 

A portion of Elkhart is on its way to getting a facelift as leaders work on one of the largest developments the city has ever seen.

Two years ago the city of Elkhart and Community Foundation teamed up to put together a vision plan for the River District, an area near downtown that is known as a less desirable area.

A $30 million budget was determined at that time. Now, the team working on the project is looking for $18.2 million of that $30 million to be appropriated for the first phase of the River District Implementation Effort.  

The Common Council had a first reading Monday night to consider appropriating that money.  

Two projects are already underway in the area including a $69.5 million aquatics center and a luxury apartment complex.

Other aspects would include new Riverwalk connections and a new streetscape on Jackson Blvd. that would create a more walkable environment through adding a third lane and bike lanes.

“We have to really create an environment, a destination, a residential hotspot that’s connected to downtown where people want to be. And that’s what this project, the river district project is about, it’s about placemaking in Elkhart,” said Shelley Moore, the project lead for the River District Implementation Team.

Moore says about 28,000 people work in Elkhart but live and shop elsewhere. With the addition of residential areas, the project looks to create a more vibrant place to live that will keep people in the city.

 “As the mayor, I want those people to not only work here but to remain here,” said Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese. “So our focus is to sell the city of Elkhart and have those individuals raise their families here as well as work here.”

Mayor Neese says he expects the development to compliment downtown and hopefully attract new businesses as well.

"This will then be, I think, an area that will make us unique in terms of other communities when a business looks to locate here," he said.

The project leaders have planned a public presentaton to discuss the initial elements of the plan on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Lerner Theater.

The presentation is open to everyone and is hoping to also gain insight into what the people of Elkhart want to see happen to the River District area.

More information on the project can be found here.

A final plan is planned to be delivered around April.

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