Elkhart envisions redesigned Civic Plaza, Central Park for more downtown fun, events

We can imagine it already.

It’s a beautiful summer afternoon in downtown Elkhart. A band is playing on the gorgeous new stage at Central Park along Waterfall Drive. A crowd in lawn chairs and blankets fill the lush green expanse in front of the stage. Hungry concert-goers line up at the food trucks parked on Waterfall Drive.

Kids laugh, squeal and run in a play area off Franklin Street. Meanwhile, the concert audience grows as more people arrive at the park on the new bike path lining Franklin Street. With space running short on the lawn, the arriving crowd finds space on the terrace adjacent to the new apartments on Franklin or in the shaded sitting area along High Street.

This vision is potentially possible in the next few years as the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission considers a conceptual design developed for the revitalization of the Civic Plaza and Central Park.

The commission must approve the concept (possibly in March) and city officials would need to secure funding before any additional design or work can be done on the site.

The concept was created from in-person and survey responses from hundreds of Elkhart residents to city officials and design firm Rundell Ernstberger Associates.

Highlights of the proposal include:

  • An expanded Civic Plaza that includes a cafe area with restrooms.
  • A permanent stage along Waterfall Drive.
  • Shaded sitting area along High Street.
  • A playground and water feature at Franklin Street and Waterfall.
  • The possibility of two private development sites for commercial mixed use (retail and/or residential), with additional underground parking.
  • Improved pedestrian connections along Franklin and to the Marion Street parking garage.

To see the full PowerPoint presentation made at a Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, public meeting at the Lerner Theatre as well as further information about this project, go to www.elkhartcivicplaza.com.

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