ISU students present renderings for downtown

Austin Simpson

On Tuesday night, Mortonites had an opportunity to observe some of the possible futures for downtown development.

A number of students from Illinois State University gathered at the Morton Fire Station for an open house to present their renderings of historic downtown buildings and answer questions from the community.

According to Connie Dyar, interior design program coordinator from ISU, the students had been working on the project since the beginning of the semester.

“I was contacted by Mary Spahr, a former graduate student (and member of the Morton Economic Development Committee Downtown Development Team) at the beginning of the semester,” said Dyar.

“She asked me if I thought ISU students would be interested in working on a downtown development project.”

From there, the Morton EDC met with a group of ISU professors, including William Riehm, to discuss the project. Riehm’s students took on the historical rendering project.

Jennifer Daly, executive director and CEO of the Morton EDC, explained that the students were each assigned a building. From there, they researched the history of the building and examined both the original design and various historical elements to help craft their renderings.

“It’s really great to have this group research downtown history for design ideas,” said Daly of the project.

The open house follows the recent announcement that Houseal Lavigne Associates, a consulting firm based in northern Illinois, had been hired out of 16 firms to handle Morton’s downtown development.

“Our citizens want to see Morton’s downtown improved,” Daly stated. “(Downtown development) involves more than just looking at what it looks like. It will also include a new economic plan.”

When the Morton EDC meets with Houseal Lavigne in a few weeks, they will begin a planning process which will include developing incentives for downtown businesses.

Daly stated that they will also be focused on finding ways to “recruit, retain and best support the types of businesses we want” for the improved downtown and will be looking at the students’ renderings for design ideas.