TOWN OF BELOIT - Town officials are looking to create an "uptown district" in the area surrounding Inman Parkway.
Town Administrator Ian Haas said a uptown concept meeting was held last week at Fire Station One.
"Since the opening of the (Inman Parkway) corridor to the interstate, there has been a large increase in traffic making this area a very desirable residential and commercial destination," Haas said.
He said since more than 90 percent of the town's population lives within 1.5-2 miles of the corridor, the town is interested in making a plan to further develop the area. The primary area of focus is from Park Avenue to Prairie Avenue. Haas also would like to take a look at developing streets that connect to Inman Parkway.
The original concept for the "uptown" idea came from Town of Beloit Fire Department Paramedic Casey Bellard. Haas said the name "uptown" refers to the fact that it would literally be north of the City of Beloit's downtown area.
He believes the area could eventually serve as a regional hub for shopping as well as an alternative to, or supplement, the city's downtown.
"We have no intention of duplicating the type of district seen in the City of Beloit and hope that the unique opportunity presented within this area of the Town yields equally unique business concepts and options," Haas said. "This is one way the Town of Beloit and City of Beloit can complement each other to draw more visitors to the area and benefit the entire region."
Town officials invited area banks, retailers, county development officials, business stakeholders and more to the concept meeting.
"We wanted to get business people from all walks of life," Haas said.
He said those who attended the meeting took a look at infrastructure needs and brainstormed future development projects. One idea Haas enjoyed is to have an indoor market similar to the one in Milwaukee.
"City of Beloit has an amazing farmers market, but during the winter there's not much going on," Haas said. "An indoor market would compliment what already takes place in the region."
Town staff are developing mechanisms to gather more citizen and business community input for this and other areas of the town to be included in a marketing and economic development plan, Haas said.
"This is an exciting time as the number of residents and businesses as well as the quality of services is growing at an exhilarating rate," Haas said. "Our sincere hope is that the unique opportunity presented in the Inman Parkway corridor will draw visitors and consumers to the area while providing worthwhile shopping conveniences for regional residents."
Haas will meet with Batterman representatives to develop concept maps in the coming weeks. At that point, Haas said the town will bring area stakeholders back to further discuss uptown concepts.
Haas encourages any citizen, business owner or stakeholder to contact the town with their ideas.