MKSK and the City held a public engagement event for the Plaza plan at the city’s annual C-U Oktoberfest. The goal was to get the residents talking about how they want to see the plaza transformed. The heart of this project is the community, the identity, and history of those connected to the city of Champaign.

We presented boards with engaging photos of a potential skating rink, a multipurpose structure, playground, performance area and more. Community members voted by dot marking which structures they best thought would fit the plaza space. The diverse group of people that engaged the event gave us a better understanding of how to refine the area.

We heard from families with small children who were interested in seeing places that their families could come and enjoy. One family said that it was essential to have an outdoor space for their children to play and enjoy while experiencing the culture of their city.

We were also visited by young adults who are planting their roots in and near downtown Champaign. As an up and coming area, these young people valued having a place that speaks to the art and entertainment scene. They want to see a place that they can find culture and a place to connect with other young professionals.

Local business owners said that this plaza space was vital to the success of their business. Being invested in the heart of downtown means that any structure in the space could help or hurt their business. They valued having a say on what was going into the plaza.

Despite the rain, a double rainbow graced the end of a successful engagement event. Gaining the feedback from so many diverse groups speaks to the identity of the community and those who are invested in seeing downtown Champaign thrive and grow. Over 150 people came out, gave their input and asked questions. It’s great to see the community involvement in transforming this into a place that speaks to the community of people that love this city.

If you were unable to attend this event, stay tuned for the next community engagement later in the Fall. You can also leave your input here and participate in the Visual Preference Survey here.