Renaissance Place, in Highland Park, Illinois, is a city block, mixed use development including five separate buildings whose uses include stand-alone retail, office space and market-rate apartments over street-front retail; all over a below grade parking garage owned by the city. It was an early P3 and a great exercise in giving a city the substantial benefits of comprehensive development without the look and feel of a big development. We were successful in establishing the urban “patterns” and standards that will inform and guide future development… including an important mid-block promenade with “addresses” for the apartments and offices complete with terrace and balcony overlooks and on-grade restaurants. This project is different than most “new urbanism” projects because it is a simple (but affluent) suburban downtown environment like hundreds around the country. It enables a traditional mix of uses... retail, housing, offices, restaurants, and cinema... to succeed because of a careful placement of retail, commercial addresses, and amenities to create a successful “economic engine” that clearly led to the revitalization of the downtown.
Consistent with the underlying goals of new urbanism, this project does not take on the look of a “big development”... but rather maintains the scale and character of the existing urban fabric complete with local vernacular architecture for each of the five buildings that comprise the development. The project survived two years of public review and approvals, peer review, and dramatic value engineering. The public review process was especially difficult, but resulted in a better project and a larger public awareness of design. As a standard for future buildings, Renaissance Place has already improved the quality of subsequent development and design. Just as important, existing merchants are experiencing dramatic increases in customer traffic and sales… and new tenants have exceeded their original sales projections with the “life of the city” visibly flourishing anew.
Our best definition of success: 23 new retailers relocated to the downtown and 6 new downtown residential developments were started within the first year of operation. And every night, the citizens of Highland Park came together as a “community”… right here in Renaissance Place.
Pre-leased before ground-breaking. ULI Handbook on Place Making ULI Handbook on Town Center Development ULI Handbook on Mixed Use Development ULI Handbook on Retail Development