REVITALIZATION OF DOWNTOWN WHEATON, ILLINOIS
The Study Area
The City of Wheaton is located in the Chicago Metropolitan area and is the seat of government for DuPage County, Illinois. It lies approximately 25 miles west of Chicago’s loop and is connected to it by commuter rail service. It has a historic Central Area identified in Figure 1 with many handsome turn of the century brick commercial structures. This article traces some of the significant changes which have occurred over the past 25 years and their impact on the revitalization of Wheaton’s downtown.
Historic downtowns in suburban communities have traditionally faced a variety of problems which have challenged their social and economic viability. Wheaton faced
many of these in the 1980’s including: competition from shopping centers and malls; parking and circulation deficiencies; an active rail line that cut through its center; old
structures suffering from deferred maintenance and interior space configurations poorly suited to many contemporary business needs. Lack of coordinated marketing and
maintenance of sidewalks were also issues.
Response to Challenges
Wheaton experienced a positive turn-around since 1990. This can be credited to political leadership of elected officials and appointed commissions, competent professional staff, consultant expertise, quality developers, an active chamber of commerce and enlightened and pro-active citizens.
One key to revitalization has been the development of a variety of residential projects which have greatly increased the market for new restaurants, and the pedestrian activity
and vibrancy of the central area.
Click to read the full interesting article by City Planner Pete Pointner