Ottawa receives $3 million grant for riverfront amphitheater

‘It’ll be a great addition to the riverfront area,’ mayor says

Development on Ottawa’s portion of the Illinois riverfront received a boost after the city was 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 project, according to the grant application the city submitted, should cost $4,010,500 total, with the city providing a $1,010,500 match for the grant.

Mayor Dan Aussem said the money for the match will come out of the city’s TIF funds.

“We’ve had great luck these last few years and people have asked me about this grant before, and I just tell them sooner or later our luck has to run out,” Aussem said. “I didn’t know whether or not we’d get this, so I hadn’t heard a thing until they made the announcement. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard.”

The new Ottawa riverfront plan calls for the elimination of a previously proposed marina to save development costs.

The city said in the grant application construction in the project could be finished as soon as December 2024, although the time frame listed in the application is about a month earlier than anticipated.

“The timing is going to be great because the YMCA is supposed to be breaking ground around October,” Aussem said. “So it’ll be a great addition to the riverfront area.”

The amphitheater is slated to be constructed just east of a newly-constructed YMCA, another project that plays into the development of Ottawa’s riverfront.

More information about the amphitheater project will be available after Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. City Council meeting at City Hall, 301 W. Madison St.