City of Portage Mayor and Chairperson of the Redevelopment Commission (RDC) Sue Lynch recently announced the adoption of an exciting, revised Portage Downtown Master Plan to revitalize Portage’s downtown. Past administrations, to their credit, took steps to develop and grow the downtown, which has been helpful in allowing the current administration to continue to positively move forward. The revised plan places a stronger emphasis on connecting the community through increased walkability, open space commons, bike lanes, and specialized districts that serve as authentic representations of Portage.
“We started with making some much-needed changes to Founders Square, and we will finish with assisting existing and new businesses, residential growth, public recreation areas, and greater walkability,” said Lynch.
The plan, broken down into four phases, was adopted following months of research and was presented by Gregg Calpino of the SmithGroup and Matt Reardon of HWC Engineering. It will transform downtown Portage into a mixture of residential, commercial, and public spaces that will give Portage the opportunity to show its identity to the Region. The plan will be funded by public investments and private partnerships.
The plan begins with Phase 1A, the completion of projects in Founders Square and the new Plaza located between the fire and police stations. This includes large developments like increased parking and additional sidewalks within the park, as well as smaller scale projects, like connecting the park to downtown through designated routes. There are also plans to make the new plaza greener with the addition of more trees and plants. New patio and plaza spaces will also be added to provide more opportunities for residents of Portage to gather. This work is expected to be completed in 2023.
Beginning in 2023, development will start in several areas that are key to making the new plan successful. Firstly, Main Street and Vivian Street will be extended to better support traffic flow. The RDC is hopeful to begin construction on a new Sports Complex, an outdoor recreation area dedicated to giving Portage residents safe, open spaces to be active. With the Sports Complex comes work on parking to support both the new area and the Portage Mall. Finally, in an effort to further support the health and well-being of the community, the city will be introducing greenspace and trails along Vivian Street for public use.
Following the completion of Phase 1 development, Phase 2 will kick off with a suggested townhouse development along Central and Carmen. To support this project, Carmen Street will be extended, and the Central Avenue streetscape will be restructured to make walking a more viable, safe, and enjoyable way to travel. This will include new and improved safety features including delineated crosswalks, improved signal timing, and better street lighting, as well as comfort features like benches and streetside trees. Phase 3 will see similar developments along Main Street near the new Sports Complex.
The plan will conclude with several more street expansions to accommodate traffic, new stormwater management developments, and the construction of a community recreation center. Altogether, the plan creates specialized districts within Portage with each having their own, unique identity, while contributing to the overall soul of the city. The Downtown Master Plan, with its combination of residential comfort and emphasis on walkability, will revitalize the City of Portage’s downtown scene and breathe new life into the community.
To learn more about the City of Portage and keep up to date on new developments, visit its website at www.portagein.gov