Further Planner Progress

Two quick and happy items:

1) Ann Marie Hess started work today as our new Chief Building Inspector. She has worked as a building inspector in Arlington Heights and as Chief Building Inspector in La Grange prior to joining DG. Ms. Hess is also a licensed architect and has worked for several architectural firms, including her own.

Ms. Hess is one of only 500 certified Master Code Professionals in the USA. She will bring a professional dimension to her job that the Village has never really had before. Welcome to DG Ms. Hess!

2) The Downtown Pattern Book is finished, an effort mainly by consultants Houseal Lavigne Associates, and in collaboration with Community Development. It will be submitted for acceptance at next weeks council meeting. This is a significant document of the complete downtown, and is a keystone for further managed development efforts by accurately documenting every building in the CBD (Central Business District). Senior Planner Jeff O’Brien gave me an advance look at this back in July, and the finished product is impressive.

From the green sheets:


As part of the strategic planning process, the Village Council identified reviewing the Downtown Master Plan and Vision to help maintain Downers Grove’s authentic central business district. Part of these discussions focused on the appearance of the buildings in the Downtown. Many of these discussions were based on the Architectural Design Review Board’s (ADRB) recommendations regarding the need for design review in the Downtown. As such, staff issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in January 2008 to find a consultant to complete a “pattern book” for the central business district. Through a competitive process staff received ten proposals and the contract was awarded to Houseal Lavigne Associates by the Village Council on March 18, 2008.

each building has been cataloged.

Detail from part of one page: each building has been cataloged. Click on pic for a larger image.

Pattern books are often used as a first step in developing design guidelines. They help residents, Village officials and staff gauge the existing development patterns and unique architectural character in a specified area. Specifically, pattern books provide valuable insight into distinct architectural styles and features in an area, as well as site layout, building massing, streetscape and landscaping. The pattern book also provides recommendations for future actions to preserve and enhance the important architectural elements in the Downtown. If the Pattern Book is approved, staff will commence work on Downtown Design Guidelines and a Façade Improvement Program. Staff will work closely with the Downtown Management Corporation and the ADRB in the preparation of these documents.

The project began in March 2008. The consultant worked with the ADRB and staff to develop the final pattern book. Three public meetings were held by the ADRB in April, May and July to discuss and finalize the document. The ADRB recommended the Village Council accept the Downtown Pattern Book at its July 9, 2008 meeting.

You can download the Pattern Book here. WARNING: this is one big file, and will take a bit of time. Well worth it. The book itself is the size of a big coffee table book. The Library will have a real copy you can look at also.


3 Responses to “Further Planner Progress”

  1. John Schofield Says:

    Join me in urging the Village to print a large number of these very important reference books. Every one interested in the vitality of the downtown, and every one interested in historic preservation, will want a copy for frequent reference. The Village has invested a lot of money in the consulting contract to produce this book, and it makes sense to continue the investment in printing a sufficient number of copies.

  2. Elaine Johnson Says:

    Way to go Thoman. I heard about the new chief building inspector, put in a call to VH and am still waiting for details. Got a call back later this afternoon with the promise that some information could be forthcoming tomorrow.

    Just a tad frustrating…

  3. markthoman Says:

    The Architectural Design and Review Board was key bringing this Pattern Book into existence. In addition to underpinning Community Planning work of staff, it also provides context for the primary tasking of the ADRB itself for downtown projects.

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