LOCKPORT — Lockport Mayor Steve Streit explained to city, community and educational leaders how he and the city are resolving the puzzle of revitalization.
It’s a puzzle with several pieces, Streit said before hundreds who came Tuesday to the State of the City address at Broken Arrow Golf Club. Since last year, Streit said city staff and council members have focused on improving infrastructure, increasing home construction, attracting retail and branding Lockport to other communities.
“I truly believe we can be the best city in the southwest suburbs,” Streit said toward the end of his address.
Streit said city staff has worked on improving Lockport's fiscal health, but Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed cuts to state funding for municipalities looms in the background. He said the cuts might affect the city’s massive Capital Improvement Plan to fix roadways and infrastructure.
“This year alone we’re going to do $15 million in capital improvements. … We have 20 projects that are big,” Streit said.
Streit said city officials have updated Lockport's public works equipment, which has improved snow plowing efforts and equipped vehicles with GPS. The city also uses its own forestry trucks to remove trees infected with emerald ash borer.
An important project city officials will work on this year will be construction of the Hamilton Street parking lot, needed to help motorists and businesses when the Illinois Department of Transportation revamps sections of State Street, Streit said.
When Streit and other city officials tried to attract retailers to Lockport last year, he said he was met with the question of how many homes the city had. The city didn’t have much, but by lowering tap-on fees, Streit said the city has increased its housing starts by 50 percent.
Three new residential housing projects in Lockport — including the Highlands — will represent 500 new homes for Lockport, Streit said.
Industrial and retail growth
Streit said city officials have created more activity at its business campuses, such as Lockport Square. He said other Lockport business lots have been brought out of foreclosure since last year. The city also managed to sell the heavily damaged Volz building to developers.
Retail is the “toughest nut to crack,” Streit said.
But the city has cracked it by gathering data from the Retail Coach, which the city can use to let other developers know of the city’s potential for business, Streit said.
“So now when we go to these retailers and now when we go to the brokers, we have good, accurate information that can tell who we are,” he said.