The Freeport Downtown Development Foundation (FDDF) is “a not-for-profit organization committed to the ongoing enhancement of business, facilities, infrastructure, real estate, neighborhoods, and environment of the city’s central district, thereby growing the economic base, improving the quality of life and promoting the entire downtown Freeport, Illinois community” (Source: http://www.freeportdowntown.com/). Through committees, sponsorship, grants and sheer hands-on volunteerism, FDDF removes blighted infrastructure, repairs dilapidated streetscapes and successfully administers a Façade Improvement Grant Program that helps property owners to offset the cost of exterior building improvements.
In addition to enhancement and beautification, FDDF works hard to promote the vitality of downtown Freeport’s arts and culture scene to locals, tourists and business prospects alike. The FDDF website is a rich resource including a calendar featuring downtown events, promoting some of the City’s best kept culinary secrets, and spotlighting a concerts series that attract thousands of visitors a year.
Visit FDDF’s webpage here: http://www.freeportdowntown.com/events.html
Downtown Freeport offers a limited number of recently refurbished apartments and condominiums, and there is low vacancy of those that are available. Several downtown property owners have expressed an interest in potentially investing in upper-story housing, but have also needed more documentation of the demand for this housing in order to secure investment. In 2012 the City commissioned a study to assess the demand for housing in the downtown and determine how much additional housing the market could support. In particular, the study addressed the demand for upper floor residential units above downtown storefronts, and economic challenges to rehabbing these spaces. The study concluded the following:
- There is a potential demand for approximately 82 additional market rate, high-quality, downtown housing units in Freeport over an approximate five-year time period
- The City should encourage a mix of large and small scale projects
- The City, FDDF, and other downtown stakeholders should advocate for financial incentives to stimulate housing reinvestment and attract the development community
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning (URPL) conducted a planning workshop course to expand upon the Freeport Riverfront Enterprise Initiative. The Green Infrastructure program element conducted green stormwater infrastructure modeling and created a guidebook for community education. This group made the following recommendations:
- Encourage new development to utilize “green technology” and Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as green roof-tops, solar energy, bioswales, and green power parking lots to reduce stromwater runoff and improve water quality
- Explore potential land use or policy decisions to mitigate future flooding, building on recommendations made in the Stephenson County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Investigate options for implementing BMPs throughout the City to limit the amount of runoff entering the Pecatonica River and Yellow Creek
With $500,000 in funding support from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Building E of Freeport’s 460,000 sq. ft. Rawleigh Complex will serve as a multi-modal hub serving as a regional Amtrak station, trailhead for the regional bike system, and primary transfer point for the City’s public transit center. For more information on the multimodal initiative visit www.freeportstation.us or visit the Rawleigh Complex website at www.rawleighrenew.org