Edwardsville’s I-55 Corridor Project moves toward possible fall finalization

Chronicle Media
I-55 District Corridor Map, revised Feb. 19, 2015. Courtesy of the Madison County Planning and Development Department

I-55 District Corridor Map, revised Feb. 19, 2015. Courtesy of the Madison County Planning and Development Department

Planning for the Edwardsville area’s long-anticipated I-55 Corridor Project appears to now be moving into the final stages.

A draft I-55 Corridor: Phase II Transportation and Growth Management Regulatory Plan and Code, now posted on the Madison County Planning and Development Department website, is intended to guide a massive, transformational development project that could bring high-tech industry, commercial development, and thousands of new residents to the area over a 50-year period – all while maintaining much of the area’s existing agriculture and environmental sustainability, according to planners.

The project represents a partnership between Madison County, the City of Edwardsville, and the Village of Glen Carbon. Hopefully, a final planing document for the project could be approved by all three participating entities this fall, according to Matt A. Brandmeyer, the county’s planning department administrator.

“Opportunities abound along the Edwardsville Interstate 55 Corridor,” notes the website of the Edwardsville Economic Development Alliance, a nonprofit organization that markets the area for business investments and development.

The I-55 Project covers approximately 30 square miles – an area equal to the current municipal boundaries of Edwardsville or approximately half the size of the City of St. Louis. It is bounded by Silver Creek on the east, Interstate 270 on the south, the existing edge of Edwardsville-area development on the west and Fruit Road on the north.

Targeted developments in the I-55 Project area include “knowledge-intensive industries, corporate centers and multi-use, walkable, town- center developments,” according to the alliance’s website.

The plan calls for:

Commercial development around the I-55-Ill. 143 intersection in the northeast quadrant of the project area;

“Rural residential” development in the southeast quadrant, east of I-55 between the commercial development and I-270;

“General neighborhood” development in most the southwest quadrant, west of I-55;

”Rural residential” development in most of the remaining area, west of I-55, and

Two “town centers” in the northwestern and southwestern sections, respectively.

The I-55 Corridor will be comparable to prestigious planned developments such as Wing Haven and New Town in Missouri or The Glen in Glenville, Ill – except potentially much larger, according to the project website, according to the Madison County planning department’s I-55 project webpage.

Development of the area will not take place overnight, Brandmeyer emphasizes, noting the plan is designed to cover a 50-year period. “I don’t want people to think that this will happen in 10 or 20 years,” Brandmeyer said.

He is also cautious when estimating the number of residents that development of the nearly 30,000-acre could ultimately bring to the area.

“Will we grow by 100,000 in 50 years? It’s not likely. We only grew by 50,000 from 1960 to 2010. It really depends on the pace of development and the number of people who relocate to Madison County,” Bandmeyer said. “It’s worth noting that nearby towns including Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, and Troy all doubled their population in a 20 year period. So, the area is certainly in demand.”

The I-55 development project was launched by Madison County, Edwardsville and Glen Carbon officials in 2003. A basic development plan was approved in 2006, ending “Phase 1” of the planning process, Brandmeyer said.

Over the following five years, a consultant pursued “Phase II” of the process, developing a land use regulation document with a specific zoning map with detailed building codes.

“We received a draft from our consultant in 2011, and then began our review in earnest thereafter and started making revisions,” Brandmeyer said. “We also kept our eye on the housing market to see how it would react coming out of the recession. We held a public meeting in 2013 and 2014, which produced several public comments and resulted in revisions to the map and code.”

Two additional public hearings were held in March of this year at the Madison County Courthouse and Edwardsville City Hall.

“Since the public hearings in March, we’re revisiting several key components of the plan, including demographics and projections, development trends, and housing market demand. We’re also reviewing the comments we received at the hearing and will hopefully satisfy or address each comment that was provided,” Brandmeyer said.

The new land development regulations must still be approved by Madison County zoning board of appeals, planning & development committee, and county board; Edwardsville’s plan commission, administrative and community service committee, and city council. In Glen Carbon, planners still must hold a public hearing on the new regulation before the village’s plan commission, as well as seek final approval by the village’s building and development committee and the village board.

“We don’t have a specific target date (for final approval) in mind,” Brandmeyer said. (Planners from each of the three entities) think we’ll complete our current review and accompanying revisions by mid-July and go back to our respective plan commissions/zoning board (for approval). If all goes well, we could complete the process by the fall.”

Planners have not indicated whether any specific businesses have expressed interest in the area, or an estimated total cost for the project.

However, they have indicated public input and conserving the character of the area are priorities.

“In order to assure that the natural landscape and agricultural productivity of the region are preserved, detailed district plans and governing documents will be authored in order to competently steer investments in infrastructure and private development. The residents of the City of Edwardsville, the Village of Glen Carbon and the Pin Oak Township have a rare opportunity to shape a place yet to be established,” the project website states.