Destination Downtown Elkhart: Public invited to first glimpse of River District Revitalization Plan

ELKHART (January 5, 2018) – Mayor Tim Neese is inviting members of the community to take part in an exclusive preview of the city’s River District Implementation Plan. The presentation will occur at the Lerner Theatre at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 11 and will outline specific projects aimed at creating a more walkable, residential downtown destination.

The River District area consists of a 105-acre peninsula bounded by the St. Joseph River, Elkhart River and the railroad tracks east of Prairie Street and Johnson Street. The River District Implementation Team, comprised of qualified professionals from both the public and private sector, was established in August 2017 to develop a master implementation plan. Anchor projects already underway in this area include the aquatics center and the Stonewater at the Riverwalk residential development by Flaherty and Collins.

Public and private investment will be necessary to complete this transformation. The city’s investment will fund capital projects such as a streetscape along Jackson Boulevard from Main to Johnson Street and enhancement of the Elkhart River to promote recreational use of this waterway. The plan is designed to complement existing Main Street assets and foster additional economic development in the heart of the city.

The public event will include presentations by the River District Implementation Team, urban planners Jeff Speck and David Dixon as well as residential market analyst Laurie Volk. This will provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the downtown redevelopment efforts, why they are important and how they will be accomplished. A final plan will be presented to the community this spring and will incorporate feedback generated during the day’s series of events with district stakeholders.

To learn more and to RSVP, please visit


Note to the press: Below is a complete list of speaker bios.

Residential Market Analyst: Laurie Volk

Laurie Volk is principal in charge of Zimmerman/Volk Associates' market studies and is the firm's primary analyst of demographic, market, and lifestyle trends. Volk's development of the target market methodology-analytical tools to determine the market potential for downtown housing; for mixed-income, mixed-tenure repopulation and stabilization of fragile inner-city neighborhoods, and for new mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented traditional neighborhoods-has been instrumental in bringing Zimmerman/Volk Associates into national prominence. Volk has conducted more than 65 downtown studies across the country, in cities ranging in size from Petersburg, Virginia (population 32,400) to Detroit, Michigan (population 713,000).

Urban Planners: David Dixon and Jeff Speck

David Dixon FAIA is Stantec’s Urban Places Planning and Urban Design Leader. He has led significant initiatives across North America to help cities and suburbs alike create a new generation of walkable urban places that help these communities adapt to the accelerating pace of demographic, social and economic change. David has been honored for his post-Katrina Master Plan for New Orleans and many other projects by the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Architects, the Congress for New Urbanism, and other national organizations. He received the AIA’s highest honor for achievement in the public sphere, the Thomas Jefferson Award and Residential Architecture named David as the recipient of its 2012 Hall of Fame Award “as the person we call about cities.” David co-authored Urban Design for an Urban Century: Shaping More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient Cities (Wiley, 2014). He is the co-editor and one of the authors for Suburban Remix: the next generation of urban places, which will be published by Island Press in January, 2018.

Jeff Speck AICP, CNU-A, LEED-AP, Honorary ASLA is a city planner and urban designer who advocates internationally for more walkable cities. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he presided over the Mayors' Institute on City Design and created the Governors' Institute on Community Design. Prior to his federal appointment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at DPZ & Co., the principal firm behind the New Urbanism movement. Since 2007, he has led Speck & Associates, a boutique planning firm that specializes in making American downtowns thrive.

With Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Mr. Speck is the co-author of The Smart-Growth Manual and the “modern classic” Suburban Nation, which the Wall Street Journal calls "the urbanist's bible.” His latest book, Walkable City–which the Christian Science Monitor calls “timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work” –was the best selling city-planning book of 2013-16.