Evanston’s Urban Renewal Agency: Restoring and Revitalizing Downtown

Evanston’s Urban Renewal Agency: Restoring and Revitalizing Downtown Main Photo

17 Nov 2023


4-Point approach drives sustainable downtown growth 

When a city’s downtown thrives with energy and excitement, it resonates across the entire community. So, in 1982, when a group of Evanston residents visited City Hall, urging local officials to revitalize its downtown area, the city reviewed its options and created the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency (EURA).

A star organization was born. The EURA used the Main Street America (MSA) program guidelines and combined the organization’s approach with a dual emphasis on family-friendliness and outdoor recreation. Since its inception and in collaboration with community members,  EURA has played a pivotal role in energizing the city’s vibrant downtown through design and preservation projects.

Main Street 4-Point Approach 

Evanston has practiced the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street 4-Point Approach for more than 20 years, which has led to a sustainable, bustling downtown area. This encompasses the following components to maximize space and attract residents and visitors:

  • Organization: Creating a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including partnerships, community involvement and resources.
  • Promotion: Positioning the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics. 
  • Design: Supporting the community’s transformation by creating physical and visual appeal and assets that differentiate it from other neighborhoods.  
  • Business Improvement (Economic Vitality): Focusing on capital, incentives and other economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses to thrive, drive property development and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators, leading to strong local economies.

“Urban Renewal is a process that enhances public infrastructure and encourages private investment in specific areas of the city. This initiative increases foot traffic, raises property values, activates commercial space and promotes the growth of small businesses in the community,” says Rocco O’Neill, Community and Economic Development Director at the City of Evanston. “The Main Street 4-point approach has been historically used by the EURA, which has proven to be successful in rehabilitating several blocks of downtown Evanston since 1982.”

In 2007, EURA applied to Wyoming Main Street to become a certified Wyoming Main Street Community. In early 2008, Governor Freudenthal visited Evanston and officially welcomed the city into the Main Street America program.

O’Neill points to numerous individuals for the success of the program. Current board members Julie O’Connell (Board Chair), Jacque Skog, Nathan Prete, Taylor Kofoed and Sara Pullins put an incredible amount of time and energy into the program, while Main Street Coordinator Mieke Madrid does a phenomenal job managing and operating the 4-Point Approach.

EURA is Community Led: Get Involved Today! 

There are several volunteer opportunities for those seeking to engage in downtown Evanston’s current and future growth. These include organization, promotion, design and business improvement committees in the downtown district. These groups offer volunteer opportunities for the annual events, including the Renewal Ball, Brew Fest, Roundhouse Festival, and other fundraising and promotional programs.

One option for those seeking involvement is to support committee fundraisers throughout the year. Additionally, investing in local businesses and beginning one’s project are ideal ways to show support.

Evanston, Wyoming, Economic Development is experienced in forging new frontiers, and our sights are set on business growth and workforce development. We are on track for the future with a proactive and dynamic business climate, a dedicated and diverse workforce, and a heartfelt, small-town attitude! Consider this your invitation to visit our thriving community and find out how we can assist you in locating or expanding your business here. Our experienced staff is prepared to assist site selectors and business executives through the relocation process and direct entrepreneurs to the needed resources. Contact us today! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.