Downtown Rockford Strategic Action Plan

This project was completed while working at Farr Associates (Chicago, IL).

Farr Associates approach to 'TLC'

Project Overview

The first project I worked on while at Farr Associates was with the City of Rockford where our design team created a Downtown Strategic Action Plan that blends the goals and recommendations of multiple planning efforts in the area over the past decade. The results of these prior plans, focused on issues such as adding downtown housing, linking open space, and improving mobility choices, which often resulted in recommendations that were resource intensive, investment heavy, and had time lines of 15-20 years.

The Downtown Rockford Strategic Action Plan takes these previ­ously conceived recommendations, refines them, and focuses on phases of implementation through a ‘TLC’ approach.

A T[actical], L[ean], C[limax] approach proposes shorter-term implementation tactics that ulti­mately lead to high-investment climax conditions. This approach allows for testing through pro­totypes, and more immediate results that lead to incremental, but impactful development. The implementation strategies are subdivided into TLC strategies that take a larger goal and show how to bring it to fruition through short-, mid-, and long-term steps.

Even before the planning process ended, energized organizations, citizens, and an eager City imple­mented some of the tactics proposed by Strategic Action Plan. Temporary bike/pedestrian shared-use space was installed with planters and bollards on the State Street Bridge and tested from May to August in 2015. A new event series, Shop the Blocks, was add­ed by the City of Rockford and held three times over the summer of 2015 and has continued since. Temporary parklets in parking spaces, parklets in parking lots, pop-up shops, and outdoor dining and retail sales are among the elements you can experience at the Shop the Blocks events.

Highlights from the Planning Process

Don't start from scratch

We mined the strongest elements from previous plans, photoshopping them onto our site plan to see if there were any areas that were not covered in previous planning efforts - there weren't! From there, it became clear that our task was not to create another traditional master plan that shows a 25 year vision that has magically come to life, but instead to take the well thought out and researched recommendations of those plans and find a way to implement them in manageable chunks. Through this project, TLC was born.


TLC Implementation Matrix

To expedite implementation, recommendations from the combined master plan were broken down into Tactical, Lean, and Climax strategies, identifying the parties responsible for the implementation of the strategy, as well as the timeline and funding source for each strategy.

TLC Neighborhood Guide (excerpts from the full report)

Final Report, Adopted in Fall of 2015