Proposed Downtown Waterfront Event Venue


The City was recently awarded a $3 million Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program grant to build an amphitheater along the Illinois River at the former location of Central School.

The projected cost for the project $4,010,500 total, with the City providing a $1,010,500 match for the grant.

Amphitheater Development Concept Plans

Ottawa Downtown Waterfront Event Venue

Months Description Complete by
0 Submit grant application January 2022
6 months Grant award notification July 2022
3 months Grant agreement & procurement October 2022
12 months Project design and permits/signoffs October 2023
2 months Bidding & contracts December 2023
12 months Construction December 2024

Scope of Project
Ottawa Downtown Waterfront Event Venue
Short Scope
This project will design and construct an operational event venue. The project will include the construction of an outdoor amphitheater with canopy, sidewalks for public access, water, sanitary, storm, electrical and internet utilities as needed for operations, as well as earthwork, landscaping, site restoration and provisions for public bathroom needs during events.

Long Scope
This project will redevelop a unique riverfront brownfield site in the center of downtown Ottawa. It will spur investment and development extending into the historic Ottawa downtown that surrounds it. The project will design and construct an event venue as the keystone to the Burnham Award winning 2014 Ottawa Comprehensive Plan that was updated in 2016 and 2021. It includes the construction of an outdoor amphitheater with canopy, sidewalks for public access, water, sanitary, storm, electrical and internet utilities as needed for operations, as well as earthwork, landscaping, site restoration and provisions for public bathroom needs during events. It is next door to the new YMCA / OSF Hospital rehab center that chose the adjacent site due to the huge community support which identified the YMCA and Waterfront development as the number 1 and number two priorities in the City. Parking is already available throughout the downtown, so dollars can efficiently go directly to the recreation /entertainment use. Future phases not included in this project include playground area, splash pad, docking for tour boats, and botanical gardens. The project will be the catalyst for over $70 Million of private development creating over 140 new jobs in the 80% LMI downtown area.