April 2006 – Development is booming in Belleville along Illinois Route 15 near Frank Scott Parkway West, and TWM played a significant role in laying the foundation for what is now becoming a reality. The results can be an example to other municipalities of how long-term thinking can open the door to new and exciting possibilities for their communities.
It’s estimated the City will receive $100 million in new tax revenue over the next couple of decades as a result of a 90-acre, 600,000 sq. ft. commercial development planned for that area. The development will be anchored by Target and Home Depot. Two Belleville car dealers are already in the process of relocating to Route 15, and the planning for four new residential developments near the location is well underway.
TWM’s quiet involvement began in 2000, when the firm was asked to provide an objective analysis of the City’s options for extending sewer service to the proposed site for the new Belleville Township High School West. TWM’s engineers presented four options to the City, but recommended the one with the second-highest cost, because it offered the greatest opportunity for future development, providing sewer service to not only the new high school site, but to an additional 1,225 acres of undeveloped land south of Route 15. The City agreed with TWM because that option offered the greatest potential for future development and the lowest cost per acre gained.
Fast forward from the sewer extension. A potential developer subsequently approached TWM and asked for assistance in securing direct access from the developer’s property to Illinois Route 15. Even though the prospect was unlikely, TWM prepared a comprehensive traffic study for the extension of South 17th Street, proposing that it intersect with Route 15 at a signalized, at-grade intersection. Engineers also analyzed future traffic using the proposed intersection and the impact on surrounding intersections, then submitted the study to IDOT and the St. Clair County Department of Roads and Bridges. The firm gained approval from both.
With sanitary sewer service easily available and now a new intersection on the way, others began to take notice. The City of Belleville subsequently hired TWM to design the extension of South 17th, intersecting not only with Route 15 but extending to Frank Scott Parkway at Belleville West High School. Construction is proceeding on the roadway.
At the same time, construction has begun on Wagner Buick-Pontiac-GMC and Oliver C. Joseph Chrysler-Dodge, which are now both able to build new dealerships within the city limits of Belleville. TWM’s engineers are also designing Belleville Crossing, a new frontage road that will serve developments along the north side of Route 15. The DESCO Group is building the first phase of its commercial development, which includes Target and Home Depot, and expects to have that phase completed by Fall 2007. Other retail and residential construction has been planned but not yet announced.
In government, local officials are often accustomed to choosing the lowest cost option. This example proves that doing so may not be the “best” option in every case. It is always important to compare costs versus benefits and to have a long-term perspective. The City of Belleville did, and is about to be rewarded as a result.