Trends Summer 2015 | Page 2

DESIRED OUTCOMES EXPLAINED CATALYST FOR CHANGE Redevelopment strategy aims to breathe new life into underutilized downtown riverfront area Downtown Commercial Core By Jennifer Schmidt F But, along with these good intentions, therein lay a problem. While an invaluable asset, that same Rock River also divided the downtown area into two distinct halves. Ayres Associates is working to help answer that question as well. “We’ve traditionally developed along the river in a way that makes that a divider rather than a unifying component,” said Duane Cherek, planning services manager for the City of Janesville. “This plan intends to connect both sides in a different way by taking advantage of the river.” The plan Cherek refers to is the Rock Renaissance Area Redevelopment and Implementation Strategy (ARISE), which Ayres Associates – through its recent acquisition of SAA Design Group – drafted for the City of Janesville. The strategy looks at riverfront land in the core of the City, which extends across a 240-acre area bordering the Rock River. “What it really aims to do is provide the City of Janesville with a playbook for redevelopment,” Cherek explained. “Essentially, it gives us a fairly extensive set of information that looks at environmental conditions, market conditions, and physical land use recommendations to redevelop property along the riverfront downtown.” City parking lot on the riverfront Removal of the structure will result in “a dramatic change in the downtown,” he said, adding that demolition is slated for late 2016. “When that occurs, it’s going to expose a portion of the river that the community hasn’t seen for over 50 years,” he said. “And then the question becomes ‘What do we want to do along the river’s edge?’ ” or decades, the City of Janesville, Wisconsin, desired to embrace the natural asset flowing through it, emphasizing the importance of the Rock River and riverfront acquisition and protecting the lands along that corridor. Commercial river buildings turn their backs to the river The ARISE project – all possible as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant – focuses on several near-term action steps, the first being removal of a dated and failing parking deck that extends across the river. The single-story concrete structure was constructed in the mid-1960s, was never intended to serve as a bridge or a street, and “is at the end of its useful life,” according to Cherek. As part of the project, the planners identified six targeted areas known as “catalyst sites” driving the redevelopment. Recommendations associated with the first catalyst site – the Town Square area where the parking deck is located – include a pedestrian bridge, river walks with public access to the river, scenic overlooks, great lawn/green space area, bridge improvements, sidewalk widening, and more. As part of a separate project, Ayres has already studied the proposed conversion of several downtown streets from oneway to two-way traffic operation – the goal being to encourage downtown development vitality. Landscape architect Bruce Morrow of Ayres (then SAA) managed the ARISE Parking Deck over the Rock River 1 3 4 5 1 2 6 Rock Renaissance Area and catalyst sites TRENDS │3