A Downtown Plan for Wilmington

Dec 1, 2016

A Downtown Plan for Wilmington

UPDATE: The Wilmington Downtown Plan was unanimously adopted by Wilmington City Council on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. The Wilmington Downtown Plan, Existing Conditions Report (August 2017), and Climate Vulnerability Assessment (May 2018) are available for download below.

The City of Wilmington is located in Will County, approximately 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Wilmington, known as The Island City, has a historic downtown on the Kankakee River and was once a regional trade hub, transporting farm produce and lumber to nearby Joliet and beyond. Today, Wilmington's location continues to play an important role in attracting businesses, residents, and visitors. The City provides convenient access to major highways and state routes, including Interstate 55, located just west of Wilmington, and IL Routes 53 and 102, which pass through the central business district. The City also boasts many recreational opportunities, including proximity to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and attractions along the historic U.S. Route 66 (now IL Route 53). For more demographic information, view the Wilmington Community Data Snapshot.

Through the CMAP Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, the City of Wilmington is leading an effort to develop a Downtown Plan that outlines a vision and provides development strategies to help improve the function and character of the central business district. The plan will comprehensively address issues such as future land use priorities, economic development opportunities for key parcels, transportation and pedestrian access, and streetscape appeal along the IL Route 53 and IL Route 102 corridors.

The planning process consists of five phases to be completed over 12 months, with guidance from a project steering committee made up of stakeholders in the community. The first and second phases will include initial meetings and extensive public outreach to ensure that a broad spectrum of the community is engaged in the project. The third phase will involve a thorough analysis of the existing conditions within the community using information gathered from the outreach process and analysis of past plans, studies, and various data sources. The fourth phase will focus on establishing a shared vision for the downtown and its corridors, creating strategies to implement that vision, and developing the plan document. The fifth phase will include public review of the draft plan, and plan adoption.

Public Engagement

The public will have several opportunities to provide input and participate in the planning process. The City of Wilmington, in partnership with CMAP, will conduct a series of workshops and meetings with residents, business owners, property owners, and other community stakeholders to solicit and incorporate local input to the planning process. 

Outreach Activities



Public Open House
On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the City of Wilmington hosted a public open house for the draft Wilmington Downtown Plan at the Island Park District from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Guided by over a year of community input, the plan presents a unified vision for the central business district and identify strategies to support economic growth, increase safety and connectivity, and engage local and regional partners in implementation efforts. This open house was an opportunity for members of the community to review the draft plan and provide feedback. The project team, including municipal staff and planning staff from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), were available for one-on-one conversations about the plan’s recommendations. 

Public Visioning Workshop
A public visioning workshop for the Wilmington Downtown Plan was held on August 9, 2017, between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., at Wilmington Island Park District. The workshop began with a summary of current conditions in Wilmington, synthesizing information gathered through stakeholder input, field observations, demographic data, previous studies, and other sources. Workshop attendees then divided into small groups and illustrated their future vision for the downtown and its corridors. The event concluded with presentations of each group's illustrated map and ideas to improve streetscaping, retail and tourism, transportation and mobility, and parks and open space in the study area. Over 30 residents, business owners, and other stakeholders from the community attended.

MetroQuest Online Community Survey
A survey was open to the public between March 13, 2017 and April 28, 2017 and received over 80 responses. The results are being used to create the Existing Conditions report and will be included in this document. Zoom in and click on the icons to see what respondents said, or open the map in a new window. Survey respondents identified over 200 points on the map.

Wilmington Downtown Plan Public Kickoff Event
CMAP and the City of Wilmington hosted a public kickoff event at Wilmington City Hall on March 22, 2017, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., to introduce the public to the planning process, receive input on priorities, and learn about the strengths and challenges facing Downtown Wilmington. Over 30 residents, business owners, and other stakeholders from the community attended.

Project Documents

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Wilmington Downtown Plan

Existing Conditions Report

Wilmington Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Downtown Asset and Comparative Analysis

A Downtown Plan for Wilmington: subsections



Maggie Jarr, CMAP Project Manager (mjarr@cmap.illinois.gov or 312-386-8693)