Members of the downtown steering committee met Thursday, June 28, to discuss a preliminary report that looked at future uses for downtown Algonquin once the Western Bypass is completed.
The report was created from a study led by Land Vision Inc.
A 10-minute survey was conducted in which 480 people responded to questions about dining, traffic and businesses, among other topics relevant to downtown Algonquin. Seventeen hour-long interviews also were completed with business and property owners in the downtown area.
Here is a breakdown of some of the major topics discussed at the steering committee meeting:
Parking: Is More Space Needed Downtown
Stacey Meekins, of Sam Schwartz Engineering, said that according to studies that have been done on parking, the number of spaces available is not an issue in downtown Algonquin while respondents to the survey and steering committee members said that might not be the case.
The study found the maximum occupancy of the parking spaces downtown is 70 percent of the 603 public and private spaces. This is a far reach from the public perception of a full parking lot at 85 percent.
However, Meekins also said there is difficulty with access to the municipal lot downtown because of a lack of signage coming from the north.
“They (businesses) did express safety issues for people parking on 31 because of the speed of some of the traffic and those trucks as they come through,” said Ron Lanz, principal of Land Vision Inc. “It is intimidating as you go to open your door and the feeling that the door is going to be pulled off by someone going by too fast.”
Real-Estate: More Dining Options Desired Downtown
Bridget Lane, Business Districts Inc., discussed how Algonquin needs to attract more employees within a five-minute driving radius to downtown.
"We have to make a market here, we have to figure out a way to connect that office use to make restaurants more successful in downtown Algonquin," Lane said.
Lane said there is not a focus on expanding retail space, but rather making existing businesses more profitable.
Respondents to the survey desired more dining options, Lane said. Eighty-nine percent said they would spend more money downtown if there were more casual dining options.
The study also identified that a bookstore was the top request for new businesses, followed by a home accessory store and a gift and collectibles shop.
Bike Path: Potential to Draw People Downtown
The steering committee discussed how the bike path could be used to attract more business to the downtown area.
“In the interviews, people see the bike trail as a big potential to draw people into the downtown that is not being tapped right now,” Meekins said.
Ideas to use the path included adding plaques detailing historical information along the bike path and downtown to draw in more crowds, and improving signage and sidewalks in the area to increase awareness of the area.