Alton Great Streets


2021 Honor Award


Alton, IL


East-West Gateway Council of Governments and the City of Alton Illinois


Planning and Analysis

Landscape Architects

Design Workshop

Project Details

Alton is a historic Mississippi river town 25 miles north of downtown St. Louis. While Alton’s downtown is well on its way to reclaiming its place as a regional destination and the center of the community, it is facing challenges of safety, walkability, connectivity and identity. The community’s low cost of living and proximity to St. Louis make Alton an attractive place to live, but like many areas in the St. Louis region, the City of Alton is struggling with a shrinking population. This overall loss of residents, as well as a lack of new development, has led to declining property values. However, recent years have seen an increase in private investment in the purchase and renovation of historic buildings in the downtown. The potential to capture more tourism spending is one key factor driving the need to develop a collective and complementary vision for land use, identity, mobility and redevelopment within the downtown.

East-West Gateway Council of Governments and the City of Alton engaged Design Workshop to lead a Great Streets Plan focused on the downtown and its connectivity to the Mississippi riverfront. The goal of the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative is to trigger economic and social benefits by centering communities around interesting, lively and attractive streets that serve all modes of transportation. Critical to achieving implementable outcomes, stakeholder engagement vetted numerous ideas and alternatives to address the challenges. Stakeholder engagement methods went beyond the standard public open house to combine drone footage, 3D modeling and time-based media to visually convey complex concepts. These videos were integrated into an online survey, allowing stakeholders to provide immediate feedback and significantly increasing participation in the final stages of the planning process.

The plan reconnects public assets, leverages an incredible historic building stock, builds on development assets, strengthens downtown’s environmental resiliency, redefines the Alton brand, and improves overall safety and connectivity. Key to these objectives is the envisioning of the City’s primary retail corridor, Broadway Street. As a result of the Great Streets process, the corridor will be positioned to attract outside spending and grow its tourism capacity. Downtown Alton will attract and retain residents and grow its economic base, by providing the necessary resources to support entrepreneurship and small businesses, workforce development, and arts and culture, which in turn, will attract future outside investment. The City is currently applying for federal funding to support the implementation of phase one along Broadway.

Project Team

SMS Engineers, TND Engineering

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