The Comprehensive Plan for the Village of Downers Grove has won the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan by the American Planning Association's Illinois Chapter. The Village of Downers Grove is a community of over 48,000 located approximately 22 miles southwest of Chicago. Established in the early 1800s, Downers Grove has a rich past with established neighborhoods and a traditional downtown. The Village’s location along the BNSF railroad has been a significant source of growth and prosperity, first for freight and now commuter service. Downers Grove has obtained regional importance in the modern era due to its proximity to I-88 and I-355 and its three Metra stations which provide connections to downtown Chicago and service unparalleled by any neighboring communities.
The previous Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1965 and, since that time, Downers Grove has emerged as a regional employment center and major shopping and dining destination, having experienced significant population, economic, and physical growth. While past planning efforts focused on outward expansion, the Village is now in need of fresh guidance as a maturing community. The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan focuses recommendations on facilitating redevelopment and reinvestment within the heart of Downers Grove and better leveraging existing infrastructure and community assets.
The Award-Winning 2012 Comprehensive Plan covers a wide range of topics including residential areas, commercial areas, transportation, parks and open space, and community facilities. The recommendations are well-crafted and will help the Village guide Downers Grove toward a better quality of life with a more prosperous economic climate.
In a time of economic uncertainty, growth is no longer a given. Much of the future growth and investment within Downers Grove will have to occur within established commercial areas, employment centers, and neighborhoods. Moreover, many previously booming suburban communities are similar to Downers Grove in that they are now “built out” with a limited amount of land available for development. As such, the Comprehensive Plan’s focus on redevelopment and strategies for repositioning previously developed areas has potential for application in numerous communities throughout Illinois and beyond.
Despite a new focus on infill and redevelopment, the Comprehensive Plan also underscores the need to balance reinvestment with respecting the character of the Village’s existing commercial districts and neighborhoods. To ensure that such a balance can be struck, the Comprehensive Plan includes key focus area plans for five of the Village’s most important districts as economic generators and intensely developed areas of the community. Each focus area plan identifies key planning influences, key concepts and catalyst sites for redevelopment, and land use recommendations.