The city of O’Fallon is making a major investment in downtown O’Fallon as part of the larger economic development initiative called Destination O’Fallon.
Investments through Destination O’Fallon will improve infrastructure and parking, and will provide a place to hold unique community events in downtown O’Fallon.
Based on public feedback received during the creation of the Downtown O’Fallon Area Action Plan, it was clear that the community has a strong desire for more festivals and community events downtown, and yet, the downtown lacks a proper place for these types of activities to take place.
Currently, almost any event downtown requires the closure of major streets and the loss of a majority of the parking areas. Therefore, the city is going to transform the underutilized lot at First and Vine into a beautiful plaza and parking area.
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On Jan. 18, over 70 people attended a public workshop and following the workshop, over 500 people completed an online survey sharing their ideas on what the plaza should look like and what events it should host. The results will be coming soon, but before they do, I want to take some time to answer some of the more popular questions that I have been asked.
Q: Where did the idea of a plaza in downtown come from?
A: The O’Fallon Strategic Plan (created in 2013) and the Downtown O’Fallon Area Action Plan (created in 2015) both included goals and objectives to help improve the downtown area by attracting a diverse group of people with upscale stores and restaurants.
The Downtown O’Fallon Area Action Plan included a consumer behavior survey that was completed by over 1,300 people. The results of survey concluded that improvements such as plazas, more lighting, and additional landscaping were most likely to help bring people to downtown O’Fallon.
In addition, the survey included the question asking what events would most likely attract people to downtown. The results showed that many of O’Fallon’s residents desire events in downtown, in fact 92 percent of participants answered they would attend a food festival, 91 percent would attend a farmers’ market, 89 percent would attend a downtown restaurant tasting and 72 percent said they would attend an art festival.
Q: How was the lot at First and Vine chosen as the location?
A: The most important reason why this lot was chosen is because the city of O’Fallon already owned it.
Another reason is that the lot is underutilized. Except for a few days a year, this area is only used as overflow parking. It is a forgotten area in a busy downtown.
Finally, this is the only area in downtown O’Fallon with enough open space to create a plaza that can accommodate a farmers’ market or other desired events.
Q: What will this do to parking in downtown?
A: By cleaning up the lot at First and Vine and adding organized parking, lighting and proper traffic circulation, we believe that this will help parking in downtown.
Every year, we perform a parking study for the entire downtown area. The results have shown that O’Fallon’s downtown patrons are not using the lot at First and Vine for parking as much as other areas. In fact, during last year’s parking study, less than 10 percent of the parking spots in this lot were being used on average.
In conjunction with the construction of the downtown plaza and improved parking, the city will also be improving signage to better educate and direct everyone to downtown’s available parking.
Increased activity at the new downtown plaza will continue the momentum in Downtown O’Fallon that we have seen with the recent addition of Peel Pizza, Shooter’s, Fezziwig’s Market Place, Sweet Katie Bee’s, the HollyHock House, Bike Surgeon, and more.
O’Fallon is, and will continue to be, a destination for businesses, families and visitors, that is why it is such a great community in which to live.