Official website for the City of Aurora, Illinois. Mayor Robert J. O'Connor

History of RiverEdge Park

The idea for RiverEdge Park grew out of the Master Plan for Downtown Aurora, a plan commissioned by Seize the Future Development Foundation and adopted by the Aurora City Council on August 8, 2006. RiverEdge Park will be an attraction not only for recreation and community events bringing City residents together, but will act as a draw for Aurora to attract development and businesses that are looking to offer employees a great quality of life. This plan identified the Fox River as the Downtown’s most compelling and distinctive feature, and focused on an entertainment venue and destination for residents and visitors, that would connect the east and west sides of the river. It recognized the importance of this attraction as a catalyst for investment and continued development in our downtown. A design competition was held resulting in the selection of The Aurora Park Collaborative to design RiverEdge Park. Their concepts were refined though charettes, workshops and meetings in which business leaders and community members provided valuable input. Ultimately, the RiverEdge Park Master Plan was approved by the Aurora City Council September 25, 2007.

RiverEdge Park Construction Updates

RiverEdge Park

The City of Aurora started construction on the future RiverEdge Park, which serves as a regional attraction for community events and helps bolster economic development in the downtown. RiverEdge Park is located along the Fox River between New York Street and Illinois Avenue.

October 2012RiverEdge Park

  • The Music Garden in the final phase of construction. Crews were working on the interior of the buildings, landscaping and other punch list items.

  • More than 350 people were able to tour the facility during our fall preview.

  • The pedestrian and bicycle ways were installed.

  • The plaza sidewalk has was opened up along Broadway, and LED lights along the sound wall.

September 2012RiverEdge Park

  • Cedar planking installation completed along the John C. Dunham Pavilion, sound wall and guest services building.
  • All site electrical work was finished, including the installation of all light poles throughout the site.
  • Interior finishes were being installed and all interior painting was completed.
  • Construction crews had installed 75 percent of the permeable pavers that wrap the eastern portion of the viewing area.
  • The fall landscaping installation began and all shoreline plantings were installed.

August 2012RiverEdge Park

  • The Aurora City Council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Aurora Civic Center Authority, which runs the Paramount Theatre, to manage the programming and operations at RiverEdge Park for 18 months starting in 2013.

  • Commonwealth Edison completed the remediation of the portion of the manufactured gas plant (“MGP”) which was formerly located within the park boundary.

  • Construction crews installed 37,000 square feet of pavers.

  • Cedar planking installation completed along on the John C. Dunham Pavilion, sound wall and guest services building.

July 2012 RiverEdge Park

  • The first phase of the Wilder Promenade was completed and a dedication ceremony took place on July 18th.

  • The signature RiverEdge Park lighting was installed with dramatic low energy LED lights on the sound wall and pavilion wings, along with decorative poles throughout the music garden.

  • Cedar planking installation continued on the John C. Dunham Pavilion, sound wall and guest services building.

  • Architectural precast panels were installed on the John C. Dunham Pavilion.RiverEdge Park

  • Spring and Summer landscaping was complete.

June 2012

  • The concrete plaza sidewalk was poured and light poles were installed.

  • The pavilion roof was complete including the steel and wood underdecking.

  • The sound wall structure had been erected.

May 2012Dunham Music Pavilion

  • Substantial completion of the Dunham Pavilion and the Guest Services Building took place including a roof top deck on top of the Guest Services Building.

  • Stairs leading down to the Fox River were poured, and the park’s north entrance began to take shape.

  • Grading work in between the Dunham Pavilion and the lawn area was ongoing.

April 2012Dunham Music Pavilion

  • The majority of the steel and masonry work on park facilities was completed.

  • Wilder Promenade, the former site of the old Aurora Police Department building at 350 N. River St., was set up to be home to the City’s Farmers Market.

  • Work on the planned bicycle path bordering the Fox River progressed.

March 2012Mayor Weisner standing in front of the partially completed Dunham Music Pavilion

  • The welding work on the steel structure and the internal build out of the Dunham Pavilion began.

  • The grading and sub-base for the bike trail was completed.

  • Masonry work on the first floor of the guest services building was completed and the floor of the rooftop deck installed.

  • The majority of the plumbing work for the guest services building was completed. Dunham Music Pavilion

  • The underground electrical work in front of the pavilion and at the mix tower was completed.

February 2012

  • Motorists driving down Broadway Avenue may notice the steel structure of the Dunham Pavilion was taking shape.

  • Masonry work on the guest services building started near the end of the month.Music Garden foundation work

  • The old Aurora Police Department building at 350 N. River St.was demolished.

  • The mild winter weather allowed crews to continue working on the park without impacting the construction schedule.

January 2012

  • Utility work at RiverEdge Park completed.

  • Concrete foundations are finished for the Dunham Pavilion stage and the Guest Services Building. The walls for these buildings were erected.

    The steel structure of the Dunham Pavilion was constructed.

Winter Update

  • Furniture, fixtures and equipment were purchased and installed over the winter.

November 2011

  • Progress on the RiverEdge Park Music Garden stage project moved forward with foundation and other underground work.

  • A portion of Broadway Avenue was reduced to two lanes temporarily so crews could tap into an existing water line and other utilities to be brought into the park.

  • Foundation work for a sound wall and the future guest services building began. Work also started on the seeding and a portion of the sidewalk on the south end of the park.

  • Demolition continued on the old Aurora Police Department building at 350 N. River St. and is scheduled to be completed this year.

December 2011Demolition of old Aurora Police Department 10/26/2011

  • Seeding and blanketing of the south end of RiverEdge Park and the lawn seating area for the Dunham Pavilion has been completed.

  • Concrete foundation pouring for the Dunham Pavilion stage and sound wall began.

  • Utility work at RiverEdge Park was about 80 percent complete.

  • The Aurora City Council approved a contract to hire Open Road Events to provide professional consulting services to plan for the opening of RiverEdge Park in 2013. The firm will help develop an operating budget, events calendar, event staffing plan for the park along with securing food and beverage vendors and corporate sponsors.

October 2011

  • Demolition of the old Aurora Police Department, 350 N. River St., started Oct. 26. The area was seeded the next year and remain open space on the park’s western side.

  • A web camera was installed that will shot time lapse documentation of the project’s progress.

  • On the east side of the Fox River, underground electrical and utility work began, and construction crews were prepping to do concrete work for the Music Garden. Grass seeding was scheduled to begin in late November.

  • A majority of work on Blues Island was completed. Piles of wood were left on the island to provide a natural habitat for animals. Planting and minor maintenance work resumed on the island in the spring.

September 2011

  • A majority of the grading work was complete.

  • The Aurora City Council voted to approve a $9.7 million construction bid package at its Sept. 13 meeting. The project costs came in under projections.

  • The Blues Island and shoreline restoration was fully underway. A controlled burn was completed on Blues Island to help clear the invasive and non-native vegetation that had been growing. The area already has been seeded and blanketed and will be reevaluated next spring if any additional clearing is needed.

August 2011River Edge Park Construction 09/13/2011

  • After City, Fox Valley and state leaders broke ground on RiverEdge Park in mid-July, construction continued with grading work and shoreline restoration. The Music Garden, which was the first phase of construction, was built across the street from the Aurora Transportation Center, 233 N. Broadway Ave. The entertainment venue will serve as a cultural events hub within a natural setting of the Fox River and downtown.

  • The City received the full $8 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Revitalization Zone program (DCEO) that was originally announced last fall. The City also secured $15 million in grant money to use toward the public/private venture, including grants from the Fox Valley Park District ($3 million), Kane County Forest Preserve District ($2 million) and the Dunham Fund ($2 million).

  • The bid package for the major part of the RiverEdge Park construction went to City Council for approval in September.

  • The old Aurora Police Department building, 350 N. River St.,was demolished in the fall.

July 2011: City Breaks Ground on RiverEdge Park ProjectPark Diagram

City of Aurora and Fox Valley leaders came together July 15 to break ground on RiverEdge Park, which will serve as a premiere regional entertainment venue that will foster economic development in the downtown.

RiverEdge Park will be located along the Fox River between New York Street and Illinois Avenue in downtown Aurora. The Music Garden, which will be the first phase of construction, will hold up to 9,500 people and serve as a cultural events hub within a natural setting of the Fox River and downtown.

Mayor Tom Weisner thanked local and state dignitaries for their support for the public/private venture, including State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, State Sen. Linda Homes, Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay, Stewart Beach of the Dunham Fund, Fox Valley Park District Executive Director Nancy McCaul, Kane County Forest Preserve Executive Director Monica Meyers, Brook McDonald of The Conservation Foundation and the Aurora City Council. The groundbreaking took place at the future home of the Dunham Pavilion, which will be built across from the Aurora Transportation Center, 233 N. Broadway Ave.

“RiverEdge Park will serve as a catalyst for creating new construction jobs today while spurring economic development and private sector employment, which will help strengthen the City’s tax base for years to come,” Mayor Weisner said.

The City has secured $15 million in grant money for RiverEdge Park including $8 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) River Edge Redevelopment Zone program, $3 million from the Fox Valley Park District, $2 million from the Kane County Forest Preserve District and $2 million from the Dunham Fund. The estimated cost of the first phase of construction is $12.7 million.

The Music Garden, which is expected to be completed in October 2012, will host the Blues on the Fox and Downtown Alive! concert series and other community events. Aside from the entertainment venue, other RiverEdge Park amenities will include a children’s play area, fountains, walking paths, a pedestrian bridge and open natural areas.

“The RiverEdge Park development will provide our community with a place for families to enjoy a variety of outdoor entertainment while helping to stimulate the local economy and spur private-sector growth in the area,” State Rep. Chapa LaVia said. “I am pleased to be involved in this development and thankful for the continued efforts of all those involved in this amazing project.”

The park is the centerpiece of a 10-year master plan for the City. In recent years, Aurora has made numerous advancements to create a City prepared for the future including a renewed focus on the environment, creating a more sustainable community and revitalizing the historic downtown. The RiverEdge Park project supports that theme by cleaning up former industrial properties and restoring the Fox River to its original prominence in order to attract new residents and businesses to a revitalized downtown city center.

“The collaboration allowed the City and the Fox Valley Park District to fulfill their desires to protect riverfront property for public use,” McCaul said.

The $8 million DCEO grant also is estimated to create 150 construction jobs and spur new development, which is estimated to create between 450 to 600 private-sector and non-retail jobs in Aurora.

“Through the River Edge program, we’re investing in the future of our river communities by supporting those efforts that are fostering economic growth, attracting investment and creating jobs,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “This project is the first step in what we hope will be a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Aurora.”

Other local leaders who had partnered with the City to make RiverEdge Park a reality believe the project creates numerous benefits to the Fox Valley region.

“The Dunham Fund is pleased to be part of a great project that involves the City of Aurora and the beautiful Fox River,” said Stewart Beach, chairman of the Dunham Fund. “The organization is also excited that RiverEdge Park will create more jobs for local contractors in the Aurora community.”

Senator Linda Holmes added, “RiverEdge Park will be a great environmental asset to Aurora and will help beautify the downtown district. By creating jobs for local construction workers, this project is a win all the way around.”