A Downtown Master Plan for Aurora

Jun 2, 2015

A Downtown Master Plan for Aurora

The Aurora project used social media to engage residents and stakeholders. These sites are no longer actively producing content.



UPDATE: The Downtown Master Plan for Aurora has been adopted by the City of Aurora and is now available for download.

Downtown Aurora is located in Kane County, while the rest of the City extends into DuPage, Kendall, and Will Counties. The City is located in the outer region of the Chicago metropolitan area, just 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. Aurora, known as the City of Lights, has a historic downtown on the Fox River and was once the main economic center for the Fox River region, employing many generations of European and Mexican immigrants who worked in the roundhouse and locomotive industry. Today the City of Lights remains highly diverse and is Illinois' second most populous city. For more demographic information, view the Aurora Community Data Snapshot.

Through the CMAP Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, the City of Aurora led an effort to update, complement, and enhance the 2005 Seize the Future Master Plan, with a component dedicated to developing the transportation opportunities and walkability of downtown. The new downtown master plan provides policy direction in the areas of sustainability, economic development, open space and recreation, arts and culture, and other quality-of-life factors, and recommends policies to help the City and its residents address identified challenges.

The planning process, developed in collaboration with the City of Aurora, involved three phases. The first phase involved a thorough analysis of the existing conditions within the community using information gathered from the steering committee, interviews with key stakeholders, a public meeting, an online interactive survey, review of previous plans and studies, and collection of maps and data. The second phase will focused on creating strategies for Aurora's downtown based on findings from the phase one analysis and public engagement. The third phase included plan creation, community feedback, and plan adoption.

Implementation Updates

CMAP, in partnership with the Urban Land Institute (ULI Chicago), convened a panel of development experts in November 2017 to provide guidance and advice to the City of Aurora on ways to address development challenges in the Downtown area. This discussion also helped to identify key development opportunities throughout Downtown, and recommended strategies for the City to effectively attract new development. Download the summary of this discussion. 

The City of Aurora has also proceeded with updates to Water Street Mall to improve safety and aesthetics. Unfortunately, after review by a professional arborist, the trees were assessed as having severely damaged root systems and needed to be removed.

Public Engagement

The public had several opportunities to participate in the planning process. The City of Aurora, in partnership with CMAP, embarked on a series of outreach meetings with City leadership, business representatives, and the community to solicit and incorporate local input to the planning process. We also invited participation through various social media outlets. Photos of outreach efforts can be found on our Flickr page.

Public Open House meeting (June 22, 2017)
The third public meeting of the Downtown Aurora Master Plan was held on Thursday, June 22, 2017 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Meyer Ballroom of Paramount Theater. There were approximately 130 people in attendance, including several members of the steering committee. The goal of the meeting was to present the draft downtown Aurora master plan recommendations and garner feedback from residents and stakeholders. 

Phase 2 Survey on Recommendation Directions
Phase 2 Survey on Recommendations Directions was open through July 19, 2017. Over 900 responses were received.

Public Open House (June 16th, 2016)
On Thursday, June 16th, between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00 pm, CMAP staff were at Waubonsee Community College collecting feedback on recommendation directions for the Downtown Master Plan. At this public open house, ideas for plan recommendations and key findings were available for public review and comment prior to getting into the draft plan narrative. The three-hour event used an open house format to allow attendees to learn about the initial recommendations and provide input at their own pace.  

Public visioning workshop (January 21, 2016)

A public visioning workshop for the Downtown Aurora Master Plan was held on Thursday, January 21 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Waubonsee Community College. In addition to hearing about the planning process, more than 180 community residents and stakeholders provided information for what they envision the future of Downtown Aurora in the next 15 years. Click on the following link for a video of the public visioning workshop presentation.

  • Public Visioning Workshop (Video of presentation below, timeline handout 755 KB PDF)

Additional engagement activities

  • The Metroquest Online Community Survey was open through May 1st aurora.metroquest.com
  • A Spanish language version of the survey was available through May 1st at vamosaurora.metroquest.com
  • Interactive kiosks with the survey rotated to different locations through April 21st
  • Focus groups with AAHAB, IACOAB, Restore the Neighborhood community group, AHHAB
  • Booth at El Día de Los Niños event
  • Presentation at West Aurora High School May 17th

On-line survey opportunity

Map comments received on the Metroquest survey. Zoom in and click on the icons to see what was said or open the map in a new window.

Survey respondents identified over 1800 points on the map.

News Coverage

Residents want more restaurants, walkable areas in downtown Aurora, The Beacon-News, January 22, 2016.

Aurora to hold meeting on future of downtown area, The Beacon-News, January 7, 2016.

Aurora to get regional help with downtown plan, The Beacon-News, October 9, 2015.



Lindsay Bayley, CMAP Project Manager (lbayley@cmap.illinois.gov or 312-386-8826)
Ricardo Lopez, CMAP Senior Planner (rlopez@cmap.illinois.gov or 312-386-8766)

For more on the project and upcoming events, follow CMAP's Twitter feed at @ONTO2050 and hashtag #CMAPLTA for the latest updates.
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A Master Plan for Downtown Aurora

Downtown Aurora Existing Conditions Report