Plans

A conceptual plan of the first proposed riverwalk project by Hitchcock Design Group, the consulting team spearheading the creation of the walk.

KANKAKEE — A key property for Kankakee’s continuing effort to redevelop its riverfront has been acquired for the bargain-basement price of $807.

The city purchased the former location of the Landing bar and restaurant at 575 S. Schuyler Ave., which is the northwest corner at the intersection of South Schuyler Avenue and East River Street. The building on the property was demolished a few years ago.

The property had previously been the longtime home of a Hardee’s restaurant.

Barbi Brewer-Watson, executive director of the Kankakee Economic & Community Development Agency, said the city quickly moved when the vacant lot was put up for sale.

The property is part of the area the city is redeveloping along the Kankakee River as part of The Currents of Kankakee project, which is the name of the proposed riverfront district.

She noted the city secured the property before it even reached the auction, as a municipality is allowed to do.

“We’ve been trying to capture this property for some time,” she told council members. “This is a major piece to the riverfront development.”

The city is also beginning its final design development push on what has been labeled the East Riverwalk.

The East Riverwalk is the approximately 1-acre site on the southeast corner of the Schuyler Avenue and River Street intersection. The city and its architectural firm, Hitchcock Design Group, have been formulating plans there as the first phase of the riverwalk.

The goal is to within the next 12 months settle on a final design and then complete engineering and permitting work as the clock is running to have this portion of the riverwalk started by 2023 and completed by 2025, per state Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grants.

If the project does not meet those timelines, the grants can be voided, so timing is becoming critical, noted Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis.

Regarding the East Riverwalk plans, the city has attained a $180,000 federal grant and $60,000 of city capital funds to complete this phase.

The next step after the final design work is gaining an approximate $3 million to $3.5 million, the projected cost of transforming the 1-acre site east of the South Schuyler Avenue bridge until it reaches the high-rise apartment building.

The East Riverwalk will contain features such as a kayak/canoe landing, public restrooms, pavilion, riverfront walkways and an overlook area to view the river.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.