What is Incremental Development?
Incremental Development is characterized by allowing small-scale changes to individual properties. Most everyone is familiar with “mega developments” that often appear in cities. Examples include the large apartment buildings, sprawling retail centers or mid-rise mixed-use buildings. These developments often occupy large land areas, replace existing buildings and sometimes displace residents. They are built by large-scale developers who are well capitalized and able to maximize their development potential Incremental Development is an alternative to this development approach.
“Incremental Development” seeks to promote incremental change to neighborhoods and and commercial areas by allowing an increase in size and intensity but in a more incremental manner so that change is less abrupt and that the overall design and function of a neighborhood is not disrupted. Most importantly, the concept of Incremental Development is for this change to happen by community members who seek to make improvements, and incremental change, to their property. This many mean growing a small cottage business into a more robust storefront or a homeowner creating a second rental unit on their residential property. The key is that the change is “incremental”.
Too often, existing zoning requirements in many cities seem to prevent the concepts of incremental development and rather push redevelopment options towards the “mega development” concept. The goal for the City of Champaign is to find appropriate changes to zoning requirements that would better promote and allow Incremental Development.
Want to Learn More?
Below are additional resources to learn about Incremental Development in general and other efforts to promote positive changes to the way we build our cities.
City Council Goal
The Champaign City Council adopted the following goal as part of its 2019-2021 goal setting exercise: “Support incremental development by evaluating and updating City codes and policies to eliminate barriers to affordable, sustainable, and neighborhood-scale reinvestment.”
City Council Adopted Principles of Incremental Development
The following three principles will guide staff as they advance this Council Goal:
What Actions is the City of Champaign Taking to Advance Incremental Development?
On November 24, 2020, the Champaign City Council held a Study Session on Incremental Development and directed staff to implement a set of actions on an 18-month timeline. Some of these actions are already underway and have been designated “short term”. Other, more complex actions are planned to be completed on longer timelines and have been designated “medium term” and “long term”. Staff anticipate completing most of these actions by Summer of 2022.
- Create a webpage that educates and promotes the community on incremental development Status: Complete
- Identify regulations in residential zoning districts that present barriers to Incremental Development Status: Study session to be presented at City Council on April 27, 2021 (SS 2021-012)
- Identify vacant City-owned lots that could be offered for Incremental Development Status: In Progress
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
An Accessory Dwelling Unit is an additional dwelling unit on a lot that is typically smaller (hence “accessory”) to the main home. It can be built within an existing home (such as a basement or an addition), above a garage or even as a freestanding small dwelling unit. While Champaign used to allow these types of units many years ago as many old carriage garages were converted, today they are prohibited. Many communities are now allowing Accessory Dwelling Units as one tool to provide more housing in their community and give homeowners more options for their property. They often provide more affordable housing choice as well. Some states, such as California and Oregon, even have passed legislation requiring cities to allow ADUs. Such legislation is pending in Illinois. In the summer of 2021, Staff will begin researching ADU ordinances and propose potential allowance for them in Champaign. The links below provide more information about ADUs.
Public Input Opportunities
At key times throughout the implementation of this Council Goal, staff will seek input from the public. Check back at this spot for information about active public input opportunities and the results previous public input opportunities.
If you would like to be added to the Incremental Development email list and receive periodic updates on this project, please email email@example.com. Please use Incremental Development Email List as the subject.
Prior Public Meetings
City Council Study Session – November 24, 2020
On November 24, 2020, the Champaign City Council held a Study Session on this Council Goal and directed staff to proceed with the recommended implementation actions and timeline.