Growing Pains: Lessons from Naperville, Elmhurst, and Normal

APA Illinois Chapter


Friday, September 15, 2017
10:45 a.m. - noon CDT

CM | 1.25

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Small downtowns have made quite a comeback from where they were 30-40 years ago. Since then downtown living, shopping, and entertainment are in high demand. Today, small downtowns are in various stages of recovery. Many are thriving, and some have even grown into larger downtowns.  How can we account for this success, despite the competing retail venues and the challenges of urban infill?


How Small Downtowns Grow is an independent research project that examines the growth of three successful small downtowns over the past 15-20 years. It is based on interviews with city staff, developers and operators, as well as document research, and field research.


The goal is to understand how and why they grow (not just in size, but in value, activity, and regional draw), and to see if there are common lessons that can be applied to other municipalities seeking to grow their downtowns.


The session will include a presentation of the research findings, followed by a panel discussion with city planners from Elmhurst, Normal and Naperville.


Eileen Franz, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Eileen Franz has a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from the University of Iowa and a Master's in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to working at the City of Elmhurst, as the Assistant Planning & Zoning Administrator, she worked at the Will County ... Read More

Mercy Davison, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Town Planner at Town of Normal, Illinois Washington University in St. Louis School of Law Read More

Allison Laff, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Allison Laff has been working in the municipal planning field for 17 years and is currently employed as the Deputy Director of the Transportation, Engineering and Development (T.E.D.) Department for the City of Naperville. In this capacity, Allison oversees development activity, long-range planning, and other special planning studies ... Read More

Steve Wilson, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Steve is a senior planner and urban designer dedicated to transforming challenged areas into great urban places. He works with cities, developers, and institutions to create short and long term redevelopment plans for districts, neighborhoods, and campuses. What distinguishes him from others in the field is his ability to integrate ... Read More

Contact Info

Trevor Dick,