The Changing Face of Campustown

APA Illinois Chapter


Thursday, September 14, 2017
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. CDT

CM | 1.50

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The area surrounding the University of Illinois, known as Campustown, has experienced incredible investment over the last 15 years.  This session will explore the key policy changes that have facilitated this building boom.  Twenty years ago, the main thoroughfare, Green Street, was an auto-focused 4-lane street that would consistently flood during even the most modest rain events.  Today, it is a pedestrian focused corridor lined with high rise mixed-use buildings, nationally known restaurants and retailers and more.  Areas of focus include:

• The impact of public infrastructure investment, including vastly improved stormwater facilities that removed the area from the FEMA floodplain, narrowing the street to improve pedestrian safety and comfort, transforming a littered open ditch into a bicycle/pedestrian greenway and more.

• Going ‘all-in’ to increase density and create an environment that is transit supported and unnecessary to have a private personal vehicle.  Collaboration with other agencies through the Campus Area Transportation Study partners, C-UMTD, securing a full-service grocery store on the site of a City-owned redevelopment parcel, helping negotiate a contract with ZipCar that lowered the rental age for University of Illinois students and much more have resulted in Campustown and the University District becoming a full-service urban neighborhood.

• Working with other City departments, residents and members of the development community to tackle changing needs in the neighborhood.  In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, high demand for residential parking was a primary concern.  To address this burden, the City began an on-street parking area leasing lottery.  With changing trends and neighborhood improvements (see above), the demand for parking – both on-street and in private structures – was greatly reduced.  Recognizing this change, staff analyzed demand, gathered input from residents and property owners and ultimately realized that zoning requirements were causing more parking to be built than was being utilized.  Removing the requirement for residential parking in the university district was a carrot offered in exchange for adding requirements for pedestrian-friendly building design.  Reducing the requirement for structured parking is anticipated to reduce building construction cost and hopefully lead to increased housing affordability over time. 



Bruce Knight, FAICP

Confirmed Speaker

Bruce Knight has served as Planning Director of Champaign, Illinois for 29 years and as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning for 10 years. Before coming to Champaign he worked in Liberty, Missouri, and Iowa City, Iowa, and at the ... Read More

Robert Kowalski, FAICP

Confirmed Speaker

Rob Kowalski, AICP Rob is the Assistant Director of the Planning and Development Department for the City of Champaign. He has twenty one years of municipal planning experience in both Illinois and Kentucky. He has extensive experience in comprehensive planning, zoning and is currently leading negotiations for several key redevelopment ... Read More

Contact Info

Trevor Dick,