Waterfront Redevelopment: Bringing the Marquette Plan to Life

When Northwest Indiana’s heavy industries hit hard times in the mid-1980s, U.S. Congressman Peter Visclosky called for the region’s leaders to work together to help reclaim surplus industrial land, embrace Indiana’s natural Lake Michigan waterfront corridors and implement a mix of new uses supporting industry, tourism and community interests to help ensure a viable long-term future for the region.

Called the Marquette Plan, the concept drove interest in reclaiming and revitalizing Indiana’s entire 46-mile Lake Michigan shoreline. It called for a more livable lakefront, balancing generous public access and open space with new, mixed-use development while providing quality, high-paying jobs as the steel mills had done in previous decades.

In all, the Plan involved collaboration with numerous federal, state and local agencies and its primary funder to date, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The projects encompass three counties, 17 cities and towns, and thousands of residents and stakeholders with vested interests in seeing the Plan succeed.

Along with transforming the land, the projects have transformed public perceptions as well. There is a new sense of optimism among residents that their communities can move beyond the “rust belt” mentality and move toward a redefined lakefront that works for all — effectively balancing jobs, public recreation and a healthy environment.

aerial image of park

Portage Lakefront and Riverfront Park | Portage, Ind.

Located at the confluence of Lake Michigan and the Burns Waterway within the boundaries of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, this 60-acre park is the primary access to Lake Michigan and the National Park for a large population in the region. SEH, along with project partners, facilitated the planning and design of the cooperative effort between the National Park Service and the City of Portage to make this project a reality. This park was the first built project to come out of the award-winning Marquette Plan.

Wolf Lake Memorial Park Pavilion and Boardwalk | Hammond, Ind.

SEH’s primary design task was to optimize the recreational potential of the open space surrounding Wolf Lake. Design features include a new boardwalk for pedestrian access and circulation, enhanced recreation area, environmental improvements, shoreline improvements and an established natural habitat.

illustration of park

Gateway to the Dunes Sub Area Plan | Porter, Ind.

The Indiana Dunes Sub Area Plan guides future development in the Indiana 49 Corridor to create an iconic gateway to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes State Park and Lake Michigan. Funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, the Sub Area Plan builds upon the award-winning Marquette Plan by providing a strategy and action plan that identifies responsible parties, timelines and catalytic projects for plan implementation.

site plan of harbor

Waterfront Revitalization Plan | East Chicago, Ind.

SEH is working with the City of East Chicago to identify and quantify redevelopment and community enhancement opportunities within the study area. Concurrently, SEH is working with the City on the engineering, design and construction of approximately $2 million in arrival sequence and land-based improvements to Jeorse Beach Park along Lake Michigan.

Riverside North Development | La Crosse, Wis.

SEH is working with the City of La Crosse on the Riverside North Development project to revitalize a former brownfield site at the internationally significant confluence of the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse Rivers. The design was developed using the innovative National Charrette Institute (NCI) process culminating in an intense, seven-day interactive public workshop.

The resulting plan reflects the history and character of the riverfront city, as well as the community’s vision for its future. The final design identifies strategies to reclaim and transform the strategic riverfront property into a livable, walkable neighborhood with a mix of residential and commercial buildings, and increased recreational, economic and tourism-related attractions.

image of community involvement
Charrette participants penned their signatures on the final product developed through the seven-day interactive workshop.

Downtown Riverfront Plan | Chippewa Falls, Wis.

SEH provided riverfront planning and extensive public involvement services to help the City of Chippewa Falls develop a final design plan for the City’s downtown riverfront area.

The Chippewa Falls Downtown Riverfront Plan includes passive quiet areas along the river, spaces to accommodate community festivals and events, and amenities for pedestrians,
vehicles, river users, boaters, anglers and more.

These efforts support the City’s master planning process which focuses on revitalizing the gateway to the downtown, creating jobs and economic development opportunities, and expanding the park and recreational areas along the riverfront.

The project site is adjacent to SEH’s new downtown Chippewa Falls office.

image of community involvement
SEH worked closely with area residents, businesses and city leaders to develop potential riverfront site plans.


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