A New Comprehensive Plan Aims to Reshape the Future of Elgin

Elgin has introduced a new comprehensive plan that’s set to shape the city for the next 15 to 20 years, according to the Daily Herald. The last comprehensive plan was released in 2005, and the new one has been in the works since 2013. This new version, put together by consulting firm Houseal Lavigne Associates, envisions environmentally friendly, walkable residential neighborhoods and new mixed-use development for the “City in the Suburbs,” according to the report.  

Elgin, founded in 1835, is 35 miles outside of Chicago and sits along the banks of the Fox River, according to the comprehensive plan. Elgin started as an industrial town and grew into a large city with easy access to I-90, Route 20, and O’Hare International Airport.

Here’s a look at the city today and how the comprehensive plan will further change it.

Elgin Tower Building photo courtesy of G LeTourneau

Elgin Today

Elgin has a historic downtown area, which the city aims to preserve and enhance through its new plan. The downtown area is ringed by a number of residential neighborhoods and a mix of industrial and commercial development. Nearly half of the city’s homes (42 percent) were built before 1970, 21.1 percent of homes date back to 1939 or earlier, and 31 percent of homes were built after 1990, according to the comprehensive plan.

The Goals of the Plan

Elgin’s new plan outlines concrete, detailed goals for the next two decades. Here are the core elements included in the plan:

Downtown

The Fox River cuts right through Elgin’s historic downtown. The new plan envisions reinvesting to create a cultural hub for the community. New projects in the downtown area will focus on pedestrian-friendly areas, new residential and commercial space, and transit-oriented development. 

Neighborhoods

Elgin’s new plan envisions creating new residential neighborhoods and supporting existing neighborhoods. New neighborhoods will be created through “infill” development, rather than through projects that would require annexation or the extension of municipal services. These new neighborhoods will be walkable, bikeable, and feature a variety of housing types. Elgin will also focus on partnering with community organizations and preserving historic neighborhoods.

Commercial areas

Supporting and growing local commerce and fostering economic and employment development programs are Elgin’s two main goals for this element of the plan.

Transportation

Elgin hopes to establish and maintain a transportation system that allows safe, efficient travel for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.

Parks and Recreation

The city wants to enhance its park system through the expansion of its existing parks and the creation of new parks. Elgin will also focus on recreational programming for the community.

Image

The city’s image is a major component of the new plan. The city wants to promote its reputation as a regional destination and employment hub in Chicagoland, according to the report.

Opportunities for Future Development

The comprehensive plan also points out several vacant or underutilized sites ripe for future residential development. Potential sites include:

The former Advocate Sherman Hospital

Elgin imagines that some of the unused parking space could be redeveloped for single-family detached homes and open space.

The former Channing YMCA

The site of the former YMCA has already been approved for new development. The site will feature single-family detached homes.

Simpson Electric

The Simpson Electric site occupies approximately six acres. The city imagines these parcels of land could support mixed-use development, including commercial development and single-family detached homes.

Vacant riverfront sites

Elgin notes there are several vacant sites on the Fox River. Part of the land would be ideal for a park. The former library site on the river could be reserved for mixed-use development, while many of the sites could support single-family detached and attached residential development. 

Commercial corridor

The comprehensive plan points to several areas of the Elgin’s commercial corridor—Dundee Avenue, Larkin Avenue, and Villa Street—that could benefit from new development. The plan suggests the areas remain predominantly commercial, but acknowledges that they could support single-family and multi-family attached homes.

The plan is open to regular updates, so changes to Elgin’s goals are possible. Just how much the comprehensive plan will change the city has yet to be seen.

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