Without even the wreckage of an old “downtown district” or village center from which to “re-build”, several residents have told us that they can’t even picture what a downtown here would look like, were there to be one in the wastelands between Kohl’s and the former Dominick’s grocery at Mallard Creek Shopping Center.
We’ll give you some help visualizing! First, here’s basically what we have now (slightly dated photo, taken just before the WalMart relocated). Notice all the parking which is unused, generates a minimum Return-On-Investment (ROI), and is not allowed to be used for anything else.
Design note: Did you ever notice the change in contour in the westerly parking lot, that never-ending descent which often entices K-Mart shopping carts to just “run away” and smash into parked cars? There’s about a 50′ change in elevation from a high point on Orchard Lane (extreme top of the photo above) to the low on Mallard Creek Drive (just above the center).
– We’re in the third-flattest state in the Union; there are other municipalities in Illinois that would GLADLY throw us off a cliff just for just a fraction of the design potential we squandered by treating our last big buildable plot of land as if it was cheap and FLAT.
Even if the idea of “Placemaking” never existed, and the former Village Elders did no more planning than designating this property for “a downtown… one day in the future”, development there would have followed a completely different path, and our downtown would have probably have looked a lot like this:Think that’s unrealistic? We’re over 28,000 residents! In most of the world, we’re considered a “town”, based on population. [FYI: Illinois does not have population-based definitions of what constitutes a village vs a town vs a city…]
The larger ANY municipality gets, the more aspects, features, and PLACES it has in common with others of the same size. This is related to the axiom of “form-follows-function”. It’s what gives us a level of comfort when we travel… even to foreign countries. We know that even though there are difference, there are also things which have to be there, or accomodation made for in some way, shape, or form. Examples here include places to eat, market places/squares/plazas, public restrooms.
What economic and social opportunities are we missing by not having a traditional mid-west downtown? What types of businesses have simply bypassed us in favor of neighboring towns and villages because we don’t offer the type of environment in which they could succeed? Do you think the RLB Panera Bread (nice as it is!) would be the default “only place around” to hold small group meetings if a downtown were allowed to be? We’re the largest village in the cluster of what makes up the 2nd-largest population demographic in the entire county (following Waukegan/N. Chicago).
Won’t it be nice (and appropriate) to have Round Lake Beach “grow up“?
P.S. The downtown photo above is of Marquette MI, population ~21,000. (There used to be a streetcar track running right down the middle of the street…)