ARISE Now Updates

For more information about ARISE Now, contact JoLynn Burden, Director of Development & Community Engagement at and visit the ARISE Now website at

ARISE: Rock Renaissance Redevelopment & Implementation Strategy Overview

Downtown Janesville has all the elements that make Midwest cities strong: historic districts and building stock, and the kind of character that can only be found in well-placed riverfront downtowns that grew up around industry and agriculture. The Rock River is a featured asset in “Wisconsin’s Park Place”; the gem in a necklace of citywide public recreational and green spaces. Just over two hours from Chicago, Janesville also has a strong workforce and market demand for new downtown housing, retail and entertainment.

Today, the City of Janesville ties these assets and developer incentives into a number of diverse redevelopment and reuse opportunities downtown that are on or near the river. The project marks the commencement of a series of catalytic projects and public improvements laid out in the 2015 ARISE Rock Renaissance Redevelopment and Implementation Strategy: A Brownfields Area Wide Plan, which was funded by a USEPA Areawide Brownfields Planning Grant.

ARISE is intended to position downtown Janesville as a vibrant neighborhood where commerce, culture, entertainment, and history intersect. The plan serves as a “playbook” for aligning and focusing resources in such a way as to draw a consistent and sustainable critical mass of people to the downtown, thereby encouraging diversity in downtown development, businesses, and activities and fostering private development.

In late 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) awarded the City of Janesville a $200,000 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant to undertake an action-oriented redevelopment and implementation strategy for the “Rock Renaissance Area”, including detailed redevelopment planning for six Catalytic Sites. A team of consultants has assisted the City to provide technical assistance in planning, engineering, market study, and environmental/risk analysis in the development of the ARISE project. This team has conducted substantial analysis, worked with the Downtown Revitalization Committee at six work sessions, and engaged the public at four well-attended community engagement forums. This work has led to the development of the proposed/preferred concepts with action-oriented implementation steps for each of the catalytic sites.

Proactively engaging the public in the design process has been a cornerstone of ARISE. The following Goals and Outcomes were developed through public input workshops and sessions.

1. Make the downtown the heart of the community and a fun, vibrant
and healthy place to live, work and visit for a wide spectrum of the community.
2. Preserve the historical character and authenticity of the downtown.
3. Celebrate the Rock River as Janesville’s greatest asset.
4. Facilitate new investment and redevelopment with a market driven
and action oriented strategy.

1. The downtown and riverfront are the first places you go with friends
and with visitors.
2. The community embraces the river.
3. Local and outside investment is being made in new businesses and housing.
4. The downtown and riverfront feel comfortable and safe.

1. Downtown needs clear management to flourish.
2. Establish a healthy place by putting people’s needs first.
3. Consolidate downtown’s history, architecture, land uses and riverfront to
make a cohesive place.
4. Create great streets and programmable public spaces.
5. Design a 21st Century riverfront that is accessible and ecologically friendly.
6. Develop a variety of places and activities attractive to a wide range of users.
7. Mix uses and encourage high density development.
8. Create human scale, walkability and connectivity.
9. Share and manage parking.
10. Leverage public and private partnerships.

ARISE Now is a private-public sector team whose purpose is to facilitate and strengthen the implementation of the City’s long-term downtown plan, ARISE, as well as to support other key activities and organizations working to transform downtown Janesville.

The team is facilitated and supported through the Forward Foundation, the charitable arm of Forward Janesville, and represents a cross section of individuals from the community with different backgrounds, interests and associations. Key participants include representatives from the City of Janesville, Forward Janesville, Inc., Downtown Janesville, Inc., and the Janesville Performing Arts Center.