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Two Cities, One River: Master Plan for the Wabash River Urban Corridor

Project fundraising for a Wabash River urban corridor master plan in the Greater Lafayette area began in 2008. The master plan process began in 2009 and concluded in November 2011. Property acquisition aimed at facilitating the development of the master plan began in 2010. Further acquisition of property, as well as site development, will continue over the next several years.

Corridor Master Plan Development

”Two Cities, One River: Master Plan for the Wabash River Urban Corridor” was developed at a high design detail level because its concentrated project area had implementation resources in place including a substantial amount of publicly-owned corridor land. The urban corridor master planning process began with an inventory and analysis of existing resources. This provided an understanding of the natural and built conditions present within the corridor. Community surveys and small group and stakeholder meetings followed. These surveys and meetings allowed the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) and its consultant to understand the community’s perspective and perceptions of the corridor. This included input regarding existing conditions, challenges, and opportunities. Three public meetings were held during the process. These informed the community about the progress of the planning efforts, presented new information and concepts, and sought community input on the plan’s direction and concepts.

Planning Vision: Two Cities, One River is not just an expression of the community’s desire to connect to the river, but a vision of a future in which the Wabash River is transformed into a beautiful, accessible centerpiece of a healthy, interconnected community. Documenting this vision in the master plan provides a road map to enhance the urban corridor over the next 20 years as resources and opportunities arise. It sets forth comprehensive enhancements for the Wabash River corridor as well as short-term priority projects. While the residents of the region and WREC are sensitive to current financial challenges, river enhancement is viewed as an essential investment that will encourage development and make the region more economically competitive. This type of quality of life investment is also necessary for attracting and retaining employees in the high technology and bio-life sciences sectors which the community is trying to grow. Building on the river’s beauty, the master plan seeks to restore a healthy river ecosystem and provide recreational and aesthetic amenities aimed at improving the health and well-being of the Greater Lafayette community.

Plan Goals: During the early stages of the master planning process, the community identified five widely-supported goals that guided development of the master plan. Each plan recommendation was developed to support these goals while expressing a desire for an environmentally and economically responsible approach to effecting change along the Wabash River.

Corridor Goals:

  1. Access from the cities to the river, and create a healthy balance.

  2. Cultivate healthy ecosystems.

  3. Engage the whole community.

  4. Connect the cities to each other.

  5. Elevate the area to a sustainable place of choice.

Learn more about the urban corridor and planning recommendations in our map gallery.

Meeting Our Goals

To meet the corridor master plan goals, WREC and its partners will transition from the planning phase to the development phase. Efforts will initially focus on land use planning, land acquisition, and completing environmental work to clean up contaminated sites. WREC is already working in this direction acquiring two corridor properties in 2010 and one in 2011 to join three property acquisitions completed from 2006 to 2008. Property acquisition as well as implementation of the Two Cities, One River Master Plan will occur in phases as follows:

Phase I (2012-2016): With the input from the community and recommendations from consultant teams, the WREC Board is focusing on identifying potential funding sources for Phase I investments for the downtowns and improving the connections between them. These include improvements to Tapawingo Park, the Myers Bridge landing, and the new Brown Street Pedestrian Bridge and landing that will connect Tapawingo Park to the proposed CityBus Transit Plaza.

Phase II (2016-2026): Based on consultant teams’ market assessments and development feasibility studies, Phase II private sector development is expected to be underway in the downtowns and potentially in the Wabash Avenue neighborhood. This would include mixed-use redevelopment near Tapawingo Park, the Box Board Paper Mill site, the Midwest Rentals site, and the area around the CityBus Transit Plaza. The Marq, a private mixed-use development, is currently under construction in downtown Lafayette near the Meyers Pedestrian Bridge, and a public promenade overlooking the river will accompany it. Public-private partnerships will be crucial to the success of Phase II redevelopment efforts.

The Phase II investment in public recreational amenities will leverage land that WREC and its partners control to encourage a market for private redevelopment along the downtown riverfront. These public investments will include a Wabash Avenue Neighborhood Signature Park on the former Box Board Paper Mill site, an elevated riverfront promenade providing views of the river over the railroad corridor in downtown Lafayette, a Brown Street pedestrian bridge connecting both cities and their riverfront trails, Wabash Heritage Trail improvements, improvements to Tapawingo Park including improved river access, and the development of a Centennial Neighborhood riverfront park. In addition to encouraging private development, these public investments will expand connectivity, increase access to the river, expand recreational opportunities, and provide opportunities for the restoration of the river’s edge.

Planning Documents

Two Cities, One River: Master Plan for the Wabash River Urban Corridor

Two Cities, One River Summary Brochure