URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — For almost a year, Urbana City Council members discussed several ways to make Downtown Urbana’s public spaces more vibrant.
Last summer, city council members requested a $120,000 public realm study. The goal is to develop realistic ways to make Downtown Urbana a more vibrant place for visitors and people living there.
The study is split into two phases. The first focuses on analyzing the space downtown with tools like surveys and behavior mapping. The next includes a series of workshops with key partners and the public to develop a master plan for ways to try and make downtown livelier.
“One thing we want to do is find a way to connect the four thousand customers and patrons who come to the market every week to downtown, ” said Economic Development Supervisor Stephany McMahon. “So, if they’re coming for the market, some or all of them want to come downtown and hang out a little longer and shop and visit.”
McMahon said improving public seating, alleyways, and signs are some of the long-term ideas they’d like to utilize for people visiting local bars, restaurants, and shops. Economic Development Coordinator Darius White said short-term ideas involve turning small spaces into areas for fun.
“Not only are you sitting down and having leisure time with family and friends but actually providing a space where activities can occur,” White said. “Whether it’s smaller festivals, live entertainment and music…I think those will be some of the things that we can move forward with first.”
Manager of Sakura Japanese Cuisine Rupak Thapa said he’s on board with the city’s plan.
“Last year, they had a parade here. That day it was so busy here. So, it’s anything like that or any event that occurs here that would be helpful,” Thapa said.
Thapa said more live events mean better business for his restaurant.
“When people come here, they always visit the seating areas. And right now, there are not many restaurants for people to go to. So, that would be helpful for us,” Thapa said.
Urbana City Council plans on presenting those ideas to other staff members tonight.