New condo, retail, parking envisioned for Riverside

Hotel for riverfront contemplated

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By BOB UPHUES

What could downtown Riverside look like if Riverside follows through on its Transit Oriented Development Study?

According to a preferred concept plan presented to the village by its consulting firm on Sept. 20, downtown Riverside will have 70 to 100 new residential units and 70,000 square feet of new commercial space; plenty of offstreet parking for residents, commuters and customers, including over 100 new parking spaces behind buildings on both Burlington and Quincy streets and a parking garage at the east end of Pine Avenue; redevelopment of the riverfront, including the construction of a hotel/conference center where the old Public Works facility now stands; and perhaps a new community/recreation center west of the Riverside Swim Club.

While by no means a blueprint, the concept plan presented to a stakeholders committee by Richard Wilson, urban planner for URS/TPAP, was meant to show just how economic redevelopment in downtown Riverside might look.

"We're not saying this is what you should do," Wilson said. "But you need a sense of what you have to work with."

The concept envisions the north side of Burlington Street redeveloped completely from Longcommon Road east to the St. Mary's School parking lot, a plan that would add 46,000 square feet of new commercial space, 27 new residential units and 101 parking spaces.

At least one of the proposed buildings, at the corner of Longcommon Road and Burlington Street, is well on its way to becoming reality.

On Quincy street, some 20 residential units and nearly 20,000 square feet of new commercial space, which could include a new home for the Riverside Arts Center, is envisioned east of the townhomes that flank the Arcade Building.

West of Centennial Park, planners have envisioned a 12-unit condo building on Forest Avenue and two- to three-story parking structure on Pine Avenue, affording anywhere from 64 to 140 new spaces.

"There's been a lot of discussion about parking and whether there's a parking problem in the downtown area," Wilson said. "You're running about 70 to 75 percent of capacity right now. Based on that number, you'd say there isn't a parking problem. But is it in the right place? Is it inconvenient? You could say yes."

The parking structure on Pine Avenue could not only serve commuters but residents of the multifamily buildings that line both Pine and Forest avenues.

In proposing a hotel/conference center on the river east of the Riverside Town Hall, developers are hearkening back to the village's earliest days. The Riverside Hotel stood near that very spot along the banks of the Des Plaines River in the 19th century.

"The hotel becomes an identity generator," said URS/TPAP's Jon DeVries. "There's a lot of appeal in [using the hotel for] reimaging and marketing the downtown area."

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