Urbana leaders say new developments are moving into Urbana, including a downtown park that will give shoppers and visitors a place to relax — and spend more time in the city.
Legacy Park on Monument Square opened late last week. It has tables and chairs for shoppers to rest as well as a downtown directory, so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
The Monument Square District led efforts to build the park, Board Director Marcia Bailey said. The $16,000 project was paid for with money from sponsors and events organized by the district.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where people could come in, sit down, eat their lunch, read a book,” she said.
The park can also be used as an event space.
“We see it as not only a place to visit and cool off,” she said, “but it’s also for the economic benefit of the downtown businesses.”
The space was a gravel lot before the park was built, Urbana City Councilman Dwight Paul said.
“It was sitting vacant for, gosh, 15, 20 years maybe,” he said.
The lot is owned by the city, he said, so the council had to give its approval to the district to move forward with plans for the park. But he said no city money was spent on the project.
“There’s a lot of activity going on here,” Paul said. “It’s a great place to be right now.”
Visitors are drawn to Urbana because of the many antique shops in town, Bailey said. But new businesses have recently moved downtown, too, she said, including a new restaurant and attorney’s office. Loft apartments also have gone in downtown.
“It’s a whole shift in the way we’re looking at shopping,” she said. “More personal.”
Residents want to shop at local businesses, Bailey said.
“More and more people are getting away from the big box industries and wanting to have that hometown feel,” she said. “Be able to walk around and visit.”
The Monument Square District hopes to add on to the park, Bailey said, with an awning to provide shade for visitors and public bathrooms.
The group will raise money from events to make those changes, she said, like Art Affair on the Square this Saturday.