Besides providing a boost for downtown Elkhart, the up-and-coming River District is winning awards on the national stage for its design and aesthetic principles.
A designer involved in the River District’s master plan, Jeff Speck, announced on Twitter on Friday, May 22, 2020, that his firm, Speck & Associates, and partners Stantec’s Urban Places was a winner in the Congress on New Urbanism’s Charter Awards:
So happy to tell you that Speck & Associates (with our pals at @Stantec Urban Places) has won a Charter Award from @NewUrbanism for our plan for downtown #Elkhart #Indiana. More here in @cnupublicsquare:https://t.co/UMwGnl6SKT
— Jeff Speck (@JeffSpeckFAICP) May 22, 2020
An article on the Congress on New Urbanism’s website lauded the River District for forgoing an unappealing sprawling design for one that created a walkable neighborhood that prioritized public spaces while creating inviting opportunities for mixed-use development such as apartments, townhomes, and shops and offices.
One passage from the article:
“This is design as urban triage, prioritizing key corridors and centers,” notes Charter Awards juror Allison Quinlan, owner of Flintlock Architecture & Landscape. “You don’t have to do everything all at once.” A catalyst for the plan was the idea to not waste $10 million on parking, when surface parking is already available on the peninsula, notes Quinlan. Instead, some of that investment was steered toward improving the public realm.
Dave Weaver, chair of the public-private River District Implementation Team, was also quoted in the article: “We knew we needed revitalization. This plan is providing strategic direction at 30 thousand feet together with the design details on the ground that is really making a difference in getting where we need to go.”
The River District is anchored by the Elkhart Aquatics Center and mixed-use apartment and retail developments that are underway. Improvements to Jackson Boulevard to make it more pedestrian friendly was a centerpiece of the plan.
The award will be presented June 13 during a virtual presentation of the CNU Charter Awards.