LOCATION: Elkhart, Indiana
      CLIENT CONTACT: City of Elkhart
      PROJECT MANAGER: Kenneth Jones, PS
      and Chris Chockley, PLA, AICP

In 2016, Jones Petrie Rafinski, in association with PlanningNext and Development Concepts, Inc. worked with the City of Elkhart and the Elkhart Community Foundation to develop the Elkhart River District Revitalization Plan. The planning resulted from three years of fundamental public engagement, taking comments from the SoMa plan and builds on the momentum created by the Elkhart Health, Fitness and Aquatic Center. The planning process sought to uncover and accentuate the strengths of the area and, at the same time, understand the weaknesses in order to address them.

A nine-member planning committee was created to guide the process. The committee represented a wide range of interests including business leadership, developers, philanthropic leadership, and government officials. These members provided invaluable insight into the community. Area stakeholders and the general public were also engaged to gain additional insight from a broader spectrum of the District.

The eight-month planning process included rigorous technical analysis of the challenges and opportunities within the River District. A market analysis was performed with a focus of retail and housing potential. These findings were used by the planning team to inform the process and help develop recommendations. The Revitalization Vision Plan identified seven District-wide principles, nine recommendations, and 20 specific capital improvement projects.

After the completion of the Revitalization Vision Plan in 2017, a River District Implementation Team (RDIT), comprised of qualified professionals from both the public and private sectors, was commissioned by the City of Elkhart to design and execute the River District project. JPR, in association with Jeff Speck, Stantec's Urban Places Group, and Zimmerman Volk is working with the RDIT to further define the character of the River District, implement strategies to make a downtown urban walkable community and to ensure that the various elements of the project are being implemented.

Private and public leaders have stepped up and they have already started to commit the millions of dollars required to proactively shift the trend so that people won't only be working in Elkhart - they will also start living and playing in Elkhart. Two anchor projects have already been started in this area and have been the catalyst for imagining a future of growth for Elkhart. These projects include the Elkhart health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center and the Stonewater at the Riverwalk residential development by Flaherty and Collins.