business districts, inc.  |  Projects

 
 
 
 
Chicago Southland Corridor Development  
In 2001, BDI began the first of six strategic implementation plans focused on improving the development along Chicago’s south suburban high traffic commercial corridors. The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association utilizing funding provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation coordinated this effort. Phase I was completed in June 2002. In later phases, BDI worked with Corridor Councils and individual communities on the implementation of the approved strategic initiatives and site development opportunities. In 2007, this long-term implementation process led to a tax reactivation program that prepared tax delinquent properties for redevelopment and a market rate housing project along the revitalizing Cal-Sag Canal. This effort provides Corridor Councils and the municipalities along each corridor with an unprecedented opportunity for economic development cooperation for the near future that will lead to the type of economic growth that Chicago’s south suburbs have long sought.

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BDI | Chicago Southland Corridor Development
 
Oak Park, Illinois  

In Oak Park, BDI completed three corridor studies and a Downtown site development study. The Downtown site development study examined a potentially historic building being considered for inclusion in a redevelopment proposal. In a process completely open to public participation, BDI developed analyzed issues identified by a special committee created by the Oak Park Village Board. Consistent with the findings of that process, the site was included in a parcel subject to a recent request for proposals.

Working with SCB, BDI’s three corridor studies identified the business and site characteristics that would allow for market rate development along each corridor. The analysis involved identifying potential markets and recommending a positioning strategy relative to the competition. The first study, Chicago Avenue from Austin to Ridgeland was completed in 2005. That study led to municipal investment to enhance the streetscape and significant private investment in multiple storefronts. The 2006 Lake Street Corridor Study identified sites where new development could add substantially to municipal sales tax revenue. This analysis was the impetus for public/private investment to reinvigorate a project area’s national tenants. The Village is currently moving forward with plans to improve the streetscape and increase tenant recruitment efforts.

Recently BDI completed its 3rd Oak Park Corridor study, an analysis of the retail and mixed-use possibilities along Chicago Avenue Street from Harlem to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. This report details action to strengthen the relationship between existing independent businesses and key neighborhood and tourism markets.

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BDI | Oak Park, Illinois
   
South Bend, Indiana  

BDI has been advising South Bend’s Development staff since 1996. There have been six commercial corridor plans in a sequential program to revitalize South Bend’s aging retail districts, an Economic Development Action Plan for the Revitalization of Downtown South Bend, and four development proposal reviews. The major Downtown South Bend emphasis was the integration of more than 20 previous studies into a comprehensive physical and economic development vision that capitalized on the existing market and important physical assets, like the St. Joseph River with its kayak run. BDI was instrumental in the creation of a public-private partnership organization that has created a strong downtown management program.

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Detroit, Michigan  

In 2005, the Southwest Detroit Business Association asked BDI to assist efforts to create a Business Improvement District (BID) for its Vernor Avenue Corridor. The assignment was complicated by the City Council’s recent rejection of a proposed downtown BID and by regional economic conditions. After preparing the BID plan in 2005, BDI was on retainer from mid-year 2006 through the third quarter of 2007 to provide strategic advice on the yearlong approval process. Key project deliverables included operating budgets, use of revenues to leverage additional funding; a tax assessment plan linked to both operating budget and levies, and a BID approval strategy. In August 2007, both preliminary property owner approval and City of Detroit approval were secured. No other proposed BID in the State of Michigan had progressed to this level of approval. Final property owner approval was completed in September 2007. BDI continues its work with the Southwest Detroit Business Association, reviewing budget issues.

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Aurora, Illinois  

BDI provided market analysis and implementation support for Aurora’s public-private partnership, Seize the Future’s downtown development initiative. This Downtown Revitalization Plan identified three projects that can be implemented in the next five years. Two of those projects have attracted investor interest and are currently undergoing development review. BDI’s market review and financial analysis has verified the potential market response and projected timelines for implementation. The Aurora City Council adopted this plan in September 2005.

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BDI | Aurora, Illinois
   
Lake Forest, Illinois  

BDI participated in a 1996 Strategic Plan for enhancing the Business Districts of Lake Forest. Although by most standards, the commercial districts of Lake Forest are viewed as thriving and Downtown Lake Forest is often viewed as a national model for good development, community leaders saw a need to prepare for future challenges. The resulting plan led to zoning and building code changes, public improvements and additional day-to-day management. In 2001, BDI was again retained to examine development strategies for commercial areas throughout the City and develop collateral materials to recruit appropriate businesses to enhance those districts. BDI continues to advise Lake Forest as it positions its downtown with respect to growing competition.

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BDI | Lake Forest, Illinois
   
Long Grove, Illinois  

In November 2003, BDI completed simultaneous projects for Downtown Long Grove’s Community Development Corporation and the Village. A market development action plan satisfied one goal of the project, providing a common base of knowledge and development activities. This project also involved analyzing development opportunities that could enhance the business environment and bring the Village needed sales tax revenue. BDI continues to advise Long Grove as it considers proposals to add new uses to Downtown and expand its commercial activities.

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Mountain Brook, Alabama  

One of most affluent cities in the United States is Mountain Brook, Alabama, planned by Olmstead’s landscape firm in the 1920’s and located just outside of Birmingham. In 2005, BDI was retained to complete an Economic Development Plan for the City of Mountain Brook that capitalized on its three existing commercial villages and office park. That project involved analyzing existing conditions and creating a “road map” to a future where these community assets both increased their contribution to city revenue and provided superior service to residents. This project was completed in November 2006. It has lead to community consensus on the desirability of varying uses and an understanding of how historic preservation fits into the fabric of a community.

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BDI | Mountain Back, Alabama
   
Champaign, Illinois  

When Champaign’s Burnham hospital closed, the city faced the daunting tasks of brownfields remediation, demolishing an obsolete structure, and developing a plan to return the property to tax generating status. Located between Downtown Champaign and Campus Town, the Burnham Hospital property had multiple redevelopment options ranging from University offices through student housing and single family attached homes. BDI guided this redevelopment through site concepts, master plan development, City Council adoption and a national RFQ/RFP process. From the initial RFQ responses, a developer was chosen in June of 2005 and the project is began construction fall 2006. BDI continues to advise Champaign with a new project, a market positioning study for Downtown Champaign.

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BDI | Champaigne, Illinois
   
Mass Avenue Arts District, Indianapolis, Indiana  

Stores in our study area attracted customers from a large market because Massachusetts Avenue is known throughout the Indianapolis metropolitan area for its art galleries and antique shops. These specialty shops attract customers from the city and its suburbs as well as from out of state. This cluster of unique shops attracted additional retailers and customers to the Northeast Quad to create a larger niche market in art, antiques, and similar goods. It also attracted the interest of developers desiring to add upscale housing that capitalized on the quick access into Downtown Indianapolis. BDI joined with a local planning firm to identify strategies that would preserve the art businesses as higher volume stores and restaurants joined the mix. The resulting plan led to restoration of an adjacent abandoned hotel as rental housing and the introduction of new food oriented tenants. Existing businesses saw sales increases from the new additions.

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Plymouth, Indiana  

Located just south of South Bend, Plymouth, Indiana has a historic downtown adjacent to a river that offers amenities and possibilities.  However, like many downtowns, Plymouth had suffered from industrial relocation, competing retail in proximate malls and strip centers, and a lack of general investment in the downtown in recent years. Working with a strong public-private coordinating group, BDI developed a downtown strategy and amenity plan, which takes advantage of its commercial/retail opportunities while also capitalizing on its history and the presence of the river.

The plan was fully endorsed in the public consensus process and by the City of Plymouth. Of particular significance, a public-private downtown entity was created to manage the day-to-day business plan created by BDI to implement the strategy and in the first 18 months new investment opportunities in the downtown have been initiated by the private sector.  BDI will remain as an ongoing consultant to the City in the implementation effort.

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BDI | Plymouth, Indiana
   
Itasca, Illinois  

Although Itasca’s Downtown currently is modest, the community has great potential in the redevelopment of nearby aging industrial and commercial properties. In 2004, BDI created a Downtown Development Strategy that included a detailed action plan for realizing the community’s vision. BDI has supported implementation of that plan by advising the newly created Downtown Itasca Advisory Committee. In the six months since that plan was adopted, BDI has guided that committee as it took the community’s vision for a riverfront restaurant in the former Village Hall from idea to negotiated developer agreement and separately evaluated Itasca’s existing historic preservation program. BDI continues to advise Village staff as they aggressively implement additional aspects of the Downtown Development Strategy.

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Mokena, Illinois  

In 1997 the Village of Mokena retained BDI to create an action plan for the revitalization of its modest downtown. Over the past eight years Village officials and private property owners have moved to implement much of the plan. The resulting downtown environment boasts an enhanced streetscape, a growing cluster of restaurants, a regionally significant summer market and a renewed focus on downtown’s position as the historic underpinning of Mokena.

In 2001, Mokena as a member of its Comprehensive Plan Update team again retained BDI. Demographic analysis and economic development planning were provided. The resulting plan is guiding this growing community’s development of stores and restaurants as well as increased employment.

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BDI | Mokena
   
East Dundee, Illinois  

With a modest downtown containing intact blocks of beautifully restored historic facades and a history of relying on relatively few businesses in aging undistinguished properties for the majority of its sales tax, East Dundee faced the challenge of maintaining its fiscal strength in an increasingly competitive market. In 2001, the Village retained BDI to create special area plans to guide the long-term future of its modest, river oriented downtown, aging commercial centers, and new commercial development opportunities. The resulting strategy is currently being implemented.

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BDI | East Dundee, Illinois
   
Frankfort, Illinois  

As a sub-area of a community wide comprehensive plan update, BDI advised Frankfort on long-term policies for commercial development. Key elements of this effort included the preservation and revitalization of Downtown Frankfort and the identification of sites for neighborhood serving retail centers. Land use regulations and policies were developed to position Frankfort’s downtown and neighborhood centers as special competitors among the sameness of new development. A key strategy of the plan was to match expected population densities to the amount of land reserved for commercial use and the expected level of retail service.

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Plainfield, Indiana  

BDI led a planning, design and economic development team creating a revitalization plan for Downtown Plainfield, Indiana an important gateway community on the National Road. This plan included proposals to better link the surrounding neighborhoods to downtown and to enhance the appearance of downtown buildings. Identification of potential tenants and development of a management entity are additional features of this project. This work was completed in July 2003.

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BDI | Plainfield, Indiana
   
Broadview, Illinois  

In 1996, BDI completed the Situation Audit, Strategic Plan and Operating Plan for Roosevelt Road, the older, central business district in Broadview. That report identified numerous redevelopment opportunities and led to the creation of the Roosevelt Road Revitalization Partnership. As part of the report’s implementation, BDI advised the Village in the creation of a TIF redevelopment plan and continues to evaluate redevelopment proposals. During implementation the following projects were completed: Construction of a new Walgreen’s, re-tenanting of the former Walgreen’s site, redevelopment of two aging buildings into a center containing a Hollywood Video and two additional stores, a business park renewal proposal and a hotel site evaluation.

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BDI | Broadview, Illinois
   
Matteson, Illinois  

Working with Planning Design Institute, BDI recently completed a plan for the revitalization of Old Downtown Matteson and the nearby Metra Station area. The market study associated with this plan examined the possibility of capitalizing on the Old Plank Road Trail and modest design and tenanting changes that would better serve the nearby residents. The Downtown Matteson planning process relied on community input to establish the development scale and competitive positioning of the commercial offering.

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Berkeley, Illinois  

Following the implementation of the first phase of the ten year strategic plan which was the development of a full streetscape plan for St. Charles Road, in 2008 Business Districts, Inc. provided a development/retail recruitment plan for the corridor.  Prioritized site selection and tenant options were identified and specific development recruitment scenarios including the role of the TIF in place were developed.  The Village is currently implementing the options that were developed with both developer and tenant recruitment in cooperation with existing property and business owners.

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Angola, Indiana  

In 2008, working in concert with Eden Collaborative, BDI assisted in the development of a re-development strategy for downtown Angola, Indiana including a priority for Angola’s historic downtown square.  As a result of this plan, Angola is currently implementing the economic development segment of the strategy, and Angola utilized the plan to secure a significant grant from the State of Indiana for downtown infrastructure improvements.

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Bensenville, Illinois  

As the Village of Bensenville was significantly harmed as a result of the O’Hare Airport expansion and related land acquisition, the Village decided to formulate a community economic development plan, reflecting the proposed changes to O’Hare and the current economic development opportunities that exist, given Bensenville’s strategic geographic location.  In 2008, working in collaboration with the Hitchcock Design Group, BDI developed a strategic economic development plan for the entire community including specific site development options and a plan to capitalize on the new “edge” with the O’Hare Airport perimeter.  The Village expects to implement this plan beginning in 2009.

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Carpentersville, Illinois  

In 2008, Business Districts, Inc. developed a market assessment for all retail and commercial sites in Carpentersville with specific recommendations relative to site development, developer and tenant recruitment and the potential role of municipal resources in re-development.  In 2009, the Village is engaged in the execution of the Implementation Plan developed by BDI.

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St. Charles, Illinois  

In 2008, Business Districts, Inc. developed a market assessment for all retail and commercial sites in St. Charles with specific recommendations relative to site development, developer and tenant recruitment and the potential role of municipal resources in re-development.  In 2009, the Village is engaged in the execution of the Implementation Plan developed by Business Districts, Inc.  In addition, in 2009, BDI has been engaged by the downtown organization to develop a retail recruitment plan for downtown property owners to maximize retail mix quality and property values.

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Cook County Tax Reactivation Project (CCTRP)  

Through an innovative program established by Cook County, BDI worked with the County in 2007 and 2008 to evaluate tax delinquent properties that the County re-captured on behalf of over twenty municipalities.  BDI conducted and provide an economic site evaluation of each property, a development scenario for their probable market-based use, and direct assistance in developer recruitment for highest priority sites.  The County has consistently noted the added value which BDI provided to this important County effort in all its public announcements.

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Highland Park, Illinois  

In 2008, BDI conducted a comprehensive review of the potential role and potential property cooperation for a Business Improvement District (BID) in downtown Highland Park.  As a result of the data and consensus developed as part of this process, a new BID was recommended and approved.  In 2009, the City of Highland Park, in cooperation with a private sector organization recommended by BDI, is implementing the strategic plan developed by BDI with the new BID funds.

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Steger, Illinois  

In 2007, BDI developed a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan for the downtown/train station area associated with the proposed new Southeast Rail Corridor being developed by the RTA in the Chicago area.  The Plan outlines a strategy for train station development and related commercial/retail development, as the new rail line service becomes a reality.  This plan, as presented to the RTA, provides a significant advantage to Steger in their ability to achieve a train station in the community.

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Thornton, Illinois  

In 2006, BDI developed a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan for the downtown/train station area associated with the proposed new Southeast Rail Corridor being developed by the RTA in the Chicago area.  The Plan outlines a strategy for train station development and related commercial/retail development, as the new rail line service becomes a reality.  This plan, as presented to the RTA, provides a significant advantage to Steger in their ability to achieve a train station in the community.

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Dekalb, Illinois  

In 2006, BDI was retained to provide market analysis and development for DeKalb’s Downtown Revitalization Plan. The resulting plan included business development programs to aid existing businesses as new businesses were recruited to the historic core and new development shapes downtown’s connection to Northern Illinois University and new residential development.  Since the plan was completed, the community has undertaken streetscape reconstruction, 3 new restaurants have joined the business mix, and a developer has proposed a mixed-use project that implements a plan recommendation.

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BDI | Dekalb, Illinois
   
Andersonville Neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois  

A strong local Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation have joined forces to make the Andersonville neighborhood Chicago’s premier independent business shopping corridor. In 2008, BDI was retained to provide market research and create an action plan to support existing businesses and recruitment of additional strong tenants. The project’s consumer survey, peer community report, market share analysis, and development action plan were immediately useful to the Chamber and its members. BDI also provided easily updated business mix monitoring files and guidelines for future development efforts.

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BDI | Anderson Neighborhood, Chicago
   
New York Main Street, Albany, New York  

BDI and two partner firms are working with Main Street organizations throughout New York State as part of an ongoing multi-year contract. All three firms are providing technical assistance to local and regional Main Street organizations to implement the state’s Main Street grant program. Specific implementation issues addressed through direct assistance represent four key areas—organization, incentive marketing, local rehabilitation economics, and statewide historic preservation review.

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National Main Street Center, Washington, D.C.  

Under the auspices of the National Main Street Center, BDI participates in Resource Team visits to Main Street communities. These Resource Team visits, scheduled in the Main Street organization’s catalyst years, provide technical assistance to local and recommendations for the local organizations and communities to achieve their Main Street promise.  BDI has considered both the organization and economic restructuring issues in these programs.

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City of Moline, Illinois and Moline Centre Partners  

BDI completed a Retail Recruitment Strategy in 2007 for the City and the downtown organization, Moline Centre Partners (MCP). Moline’s historic downtown, recently designated a National Register District, has unique market opportunities. As part of Strategy development, BDI studied the downtown and regional markets to identify both market characteristics and potential positioning to enable strategic focus. The Strategy includes a detailed Action Plan that will enable the City and MCP to initiate successful downtown retail recruitment.

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BDI | City of Moline, Illinois