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Daily Journal
     May 18, 2021      #45-138 KDJ

Kankakee riverwalk design revealed 

By Taylor Leddin

Residents got their first look at the more finalized plans for Kankakee’s riverwalk project.

On Monday, the City of Kankakee Economic and Community and Development Agency, the Kankakee Riverfront Society and the Hitchcock Design Group, the consulting team spearheading the creation of the walk, held a Zoom meeting relaying new information on the project.

The East Riverwalk is the working name for the public riverfront improvement planned for the southeast corner of Schuyler Avenue and East River Street in downtown Kankakee. It is to be constructed on 1.06 acres along the north bank of the Kankakee River, which is primed to become the first public segment of The Currents of Kankakee, the new riverfront district first described in the 2018 Kankakee Riverfront Master Plan.

The meeting for East Riverwalk Preferred Concept revealed concept images of what the final project will look like, as well as what is included in an overall directory of the area. The preferred concept will include the following items: entry plaza, entry sign, streetscape improvements, restroom building, bike racks, landscape screen, pavilion, kayak/canoe landing, lower riverwalk/boat tie-up, barrier free riverfront access (walkway), terraced stone retaining wall, gateway feature, cantilevered outlook, memorial plaque, seat wall, ADA kayak/canoe launch, boathouse renovation, reconstructed archway, interpretive sign and stair access.

There will also be a parking lot with permeable pavers.

“When complete, it will be a stunning gateway to downtown,” said Rick Hitchcock of Hitchcock Design Group. “[It will be a] collection of everyday and special event attractions, both at street and river levels.”

The total cost of the project is projected to be $3,494,100. Construction costs total $2,240,900, other project costs total $704,300 and design and engineering costs total $468,900. The funding model showed 15 to 20 percent from private donations, 40 to 60 percent from tax increment financing (TIF) funds, and 45 to 20 percent in state and federal grants.

Part of the funding is from the OSLAD Acquisition. The grant requires that construction must begin by September 2023 and must be completed by September 2025. It must remain public land in perpetuity, and improvement and use must be consistent with application.

Joe and Scott Franco donated their family property off of Schuyler Avenue where a home and additional buildings, as well as a mass of trees, will be removed to open up the land and view of the river. The trees currently on-site are non specimen trees, so new ones will be planted but without restricting the view of the river as it is currently.

The boathouse currently on-site will be renovated as part of the project.

They showed a breakdown of the process through construction. April 2020 through April 2021 is the preliminary design phase which includes: pre-design, public outreach, alternative concepts, preferred concept, schematic design report and a city council presentation.

May 2021 through February 2022 is the final design and engineering phase, which includes: design development, construction strategy, permitting, construction documents, bidding and negotiation. The following nine to 12 months will be construction, which includes: pre-construction, construction, preliminary acceptance, final acceptance, project closeout and a post-construction evaluation.

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