The community vision for the City of Elkhart River District Revitalization Plan was to develop a thriving urban, mixed-use, walkable community near downtown Elkhart. This Plan consisted of significant improvements including open space development, an expansion of the existing Riverwalk pathway system, and providing opportunities for citizens and visitors to access the rivers in the downtown area.
The Riverwalk Plaza at Junior Achievement Drive is a public space that is part of the $30 million publicly funded investment. This park amenity not only provides plaza space that overlooks the Elkhart River, but also provides an ADA accessible walkway down to the water’s edge to allow for canoes, kayaks, and tubes to enter the river. The plaza has a decorative and artistic overhead trellis that will act as a “terminating vista” for wayfinding purposes and to create a space for nearby residents and visitors to sit, socialize, access the water, and view the beauty of the Elkhart River.
JPR was commissioned by the City of Elkhart to plan, design, and provide construction administration services for the project. This node is the culmination of four years of careful planning and coordination efforts with the City and River District Implementation Team, along with regulatory agencies including the Department of Natural Resources, Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and adjacent private developments.
During the design process, JPR worked closely with the City and Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate the node project with a concurrent Low-Head Dam Removal project; the finished grade of the node’s landing pad needed to coincide with the anticipated water elevations after the removal of the dam. Not only was boat access considered for the water entry portion of the project, but regulatory fish migration improvements – as part of the dam removal project – was integrated into the final design as well.