O’Fallon, IL Unveiled: A City’s Blueprint for Tomorrow
From bustling downtown revivals to expansive commercial ventures, O’Fallon’s leaders are shaping a future that harmoniously blends tradition with innovation.
Located in the heart of St. Clair County, Illinois, O’Fallon exudes community spirit, growth, and prosperity. With a population of over 32,000, as of the 2020 census, O’Fallon is the second-largest city in the Metro-East region and Southern Illinois. Serving as the front door to Scott Air Force Base and a mere 14 miles from the bustling Downtown St. Louis, O’Fallon is strategically positioned as a hub of activity and commerce.
Walter Denton, the City Administrator, paints a vivid picture of O’Fallon’s bustling life. “Located within the St. Louis metropolitan area, our growth rate has been remarkable, making us one of the fastest-growing cities in the St. Louis vicinity and the top in the Metro East, encompassing southwestern Illinois. A significant factor in our city’s appeal is the proximity to Scott Air Force Base, which not only adds a military dimension to our community but also brings in a diverse population. Our residential areas are thriving, and our educational institutions are a magnet for families seeking quality education.”
Revitalizing O’Fallon’s Downtown
O’Fallon’s downtown area has been undergoing a significant transformation, reflecting the city’s drive towards progress and preservation. Grant Litteken, Assistant City Administrator, expounds on the city’s strategic approach to economic development, emphasizing the pivotal role of the Family Sports Park and the newly built Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital. “These two establishments have positioned us as a regional destination. Leveraging sports tourism and the medical health sciences sector, we’ve seen a surge in our hotel industry,” he explains.
In 2014, the city launched the “Destination O’Fallon” initiative, which led to the installation of all-weather fields at the Sports Park and the construction of a central gathering place in the downtown area. This gathering place, named “O’Fallon Station,” is a nod to the city’s historical roots, dating back to the 1800s. “O’Fallon Station is now a bustling hub, hosting farmers markets and a plethora of events throughout the year,” Litteken adds. It is commonplace to have thousands of people in the Downtown District every weekend for events, that then turns over to each business welcoming them into their doors.
The city champions the “Downtown District” group, which frequently organizes events like the Witches and Wizards event, Founders Day Festival, and the District Nights outdoor concert series, drawing thousands to O’Fallon’s vibrant downtown. While introducing new attractions, preserving O’Fallon’s rich history remains crucial. Litteken emphasizes the city’s commitment to fostering community ties reminiscent of old times. Collaborations with the Historical Preservation Society led to a museum’s lasting success, and a facade improvement program now offers matching grants to downtown property owners, ensuring the city’s charm remains intact.
Fostering Community Spirit
In the heart of O’Fallon, community events, and initiatives are pivotal in bringing residents together and encouraging a sense of unity. These events, ranging from festive celebrations to parades, showcase the city’s vibrant culture and strengthen the bond among its residents.
Justin Randall, the city’s Community Development Director, sheds light on the city’s focus on community events, emphasizing the mayor’s vision. “Our mayor has been instrumental in reviving the traditional city picnic concept, which has now taken the form of ‘City Fest.’” He shares that City Fest has been celebrated every August for the past six years and shows the town’s commitment to community bonding.
O’Fallon’s calendar is brimming with community events. Randall mentions the Rotary-sponsored Children’s Halloween Parade, the significant Veteran’s Day parade due to the nearby Air Force base, and other events like the homecoming parade that amplify the city’s celebratory spirit. During the holiday season, the Vine Street Market, typically a summer farmers market, morphs into the ‘Tinsel Around Town’ marketplace. The city buzzes with festive activities like carriage rides and carolers.
Residential Growth and Integration
O’Fallon’s residential landscape is evolving, with a keen focus on accommodating both its long-standing residents and newcomers, including those from the nearby Scott Air Force Base. Litteken provides insights into the relationship between Scott Air Force Base and O’Fallon’s residential scene.
“Scott Air Force Base is a significant officer military base, housing entities like TRANSCOM, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and AMC. While some families from the base opt for schools within its premises, a significant number of military personnel reside in O’Fallon. Their children attend our schools, participate in sports, and engage with our community amenities,” he explains. He further emphasizes the city’s appeal to military personnel, noting, “We’ve observed a trend where many post-retirement officers choose O’Fallon as their permanent residence because of the city’s welcoming and accommodating nature.”
Litteken points out that O’Fallon is traditionally a center for single-family homes, but the city is now seeing growth in multifamily housing and townhomes, mirroring national trends. This shift also includes high-amenity living spaces situated near businesses and restaurants. Randall dives deeper into the city’s residential projects, spotlighting the Central Park Drive mixed-use development.
In partnership with developer Darrell Shelton, this development is set to rejuvenate a key commercial area with around 380 multifamily units, blending garden apartments with urban-style living. Randall also emphasizes the city’s growing commitment to senior living. Collaborations with Lombardo Homes from Saint Louis and local builder State Construction are underway to create townhomes and unique housing models for empty-nesters. These developments come with amenities like walking trails, courtyards, and pickleball courts, catering to the 55 and above age group.
Infrastructure: Paving the Way for Growth
As O’Fallon continues its rapid expansion, the city’s infrastructure becomes a focal point, ensuring that the growth is sustainable and beneficial for all residents. Denton elaborates on the city’s robust infrastructure framework. “We’re in a strong position regarding our water and sewer systems, both of which we own. These systems seamlessly integrate with all the new developments slated for construction,” he states. Addressing roads’ inevitable wear and tear due to increased usage, he adds, “Road improvements are a constant endeavor. Discussions about road widening are underway as our commercial hubs gain traction.”
Denton discusses the city’s proactive approach to urban planning, emphasizing the ongoing ‘Great Streets’ study. This initiative targets Highway 50, a crucial route in O’Fallon, aiming to harmonize business growth with pedestrian accessibility. The city envisions a transportation system that caters to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers equally. O’Fallon’s strategic vision extends further, as evidenced by their recently finalized 20-year master plan. This comprehensive blueprint, stretching to 2040, outlines land utilization, future needs, and infrastructure development.
Commercial Flourishing: Balancing Growth and Local Business
O’Fallon’s commercial landscape is a blend of thriving local businesses and burgeoning industrial ventures. The city’s growth strategy is attracting new businesses and nurturing existing ones, ensuring a harmonious blend of the old and the new.
Litteken paints a vivid picture of O’Fallon’s commercial success. “Our strong commercial base is a reflection of the growing number of households in O’Fallon. The retail, hospitality, and recreational sectors have been thriving for years,” he says. “Our Sports Park alone attracts over half a million visitors annually, and our hospitals see a similar footfall. This ecosystem of success benefits not just the big players like Sam’s Club, Menards, and Walmart Supercenter but also the smaller businesses, especially in the downtown district.”
He continues, “We’re also setting our sights on warehousing and logistical development. The Mid-America Commerce Center, located next to Scott Air Force Base and the Mid-America Airport, is poised to become a hub for logistics and high-tech companies, marking the future of growth in the Metro East.”
Litteken highlights the city’s partnership with Tristar Properties, focusing on developing the Mid-America Commerce Center. This venture has attracted various businesses, with companies like Win-Supply and Bell-O, and Sunbelt already establishing their bases. The center also garners interest from other Services that want to provide support to a growing industrial base of employers. Amidst this expansion, the city remains conscious of preserving its unique identity.
Partnerships and Progress: The Pillars of O’Fallon’s Growth
In the heart of O’Fallon’s bustling growth lies a network of partnerships and collaborations that fuel its progress. These alliances act as a driving force for the city’s economic development and enhance a sense of community and shared purpose.
Randall emphasizes the pivotal role of the Chamber of Commerce. “They are an absolute leader of commerce here,” he says. “Constantly partnering with our city, they’ve been instrumental in the success of our downtown and commercial development. From leading community events to recognizing business achievements, they’re at the forefront of fostering connections and networking within our community.” He also highlights their support for the Scott Air Force Base mission, underscoring their multifaceted contribution to O’Fallon.
Denton chimes in, providing more context about the Chamber. “They’re known as the O’Fallon Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, representing both the City of O’Fallon and the neighboring Village of Shiloh,” he explains. “One of their standout initiatives is a leadership training program for young professionals. This program not only hones business acumen but also instills a sense of community leadership among the participants.”
Litteken highlights Discover Downstate’s pivotal role in promoting O’Fallon, noting their active social media presence and invaluable collaboration. He also celebrates O’Fallon’s thriving hotel sector, boasting the most rooms in southern Illinois and a potential addition of Springhill Suites and a Home2 Suites. This growth has led to an annual hotel tax revenue for the city jumping from $700,000 to $3 million annually. Randall further indicates potential expansion with talks of introducing a Hilton product near the city’s key facilities, signaling continued prosperity for O’Fallon.
Vision 2024: Crafting O’Fallon’s Future
As O’Fallon continues its trajectory of growth and prosperity, the city’s leaders share a unified vision for its future. Their collective aim is to strike a balance between embracing modernity and preserving the city’s rich history and identity.
Litteken emphasizes the importance of maintaining O’Fallon’s momentum while honoring its roots. “My primary focus is to continue the positive trajectory of O’Fallon, respecting our history and origins,” he says. “We’ve always prioritized investing in our infrastructure and upholding high standards. This approach has facilitated our growth and ensured that we don’t neglect the historical parts of our town in favor of new developments. The result is a vibrant community, teeming with events, businesses, and residents who proudly call O’Fallon home.”
Denton echoes Litteken’s sentiments, highlighting the significance of placemaking in the city’s master plan. “Our goal is to create spaces where residents can truly identify with O’Fallon and call it home,” he shares. “Despite our growth, we’re committed to preserving the small-town feel of O’Fallon. Through our Master Plan and the Great Streets initiative, we aim to foster a sense of belonging and community among our residents.”
Randall outlines his priorities for the coming year, with the Great Streets project taking center stage. “Engaging with the public and gathering feedback will be crucial in shaping O’Fallon’s future,” he states. “We want to ensure that we’re creating spaces that resonate with our residents and provide the amenities they desire. Additionally, we’ll continue to seek opportunities to bolster our commercial and industrial base. Our high standards set clear expectations for developers and offer them a secure environment to invest in. This mutual understanding and trust are pivotal in shaping O’Fallon’s future.”
Together, these leaders paint a promising picture for O’Fallon that seamlessly blends its cherished past with an exciting and prosperous future.
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AT A GLANCE
City of O’Fallon, Illinois
What: A rapidly growing city focusing on sustainable development, infrastructure enhancement, and community engagement.
Where: Southern Illinois, USA
Lombardo Homes – lombardohomes.com
Lombardo Apartments is a division of Lombardo Homes, a renowned homebuilder in the greater St. Louis and Columbia areas. Lombardo Apartments currently builds luxury apartment homes in O’Fallon, Missouri, and will be expanding into O’Fallon, Illinois, in the fall of 2024.