Fox River Riverwalk Revitalizes Waterfront


  • Economic Development
  • Local Governments
  • Public Sector


  • Land Development
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Municipal Advisory Services


  • McHenry, Illinois

The visionary Fox River Riverwalk plan was developed to revitalize the City of McHenry’s waterfront and HR Green aided the City in obtaining funding by implementing a TIF district. Working closely with the City, McHenry Riverwalk Foundation, and key stakeholders, HR Green prepared presentations, final design/construction documents, and oversaw the design, bidding, and installation of the Phase I improvements.

The one-mile-long Fox River Riverwalk path follows the west bank of the Fox River and crosses Boone Lagoon via a new steel and concrete pedestrian bridge. The bridge spans 144 feet to a junction where the walk proceeds west following the south side of Boone Creek to Route 120. Also included in the project was the construction of two ornamental shade structures, storm sewer, extensive landscaping with irrigation, shoreline stabilization with natural large boulders, sheet piling for the toe of slope retention, and ornamental lighting.

HR Green structural engineers designed and detailed sheet pile and pier foundations allowing portions of the riverwalk to be cantilevered over the waterway and pile-supported abutments for the signature thrust bridge that spans over Boone Lagoon and touches down among new townhomes and existing eateries and shops. The aesthetic stone facades incorporated into the concrete bridge abutments, ramps and stairs are contiguous with the aesthetic revitalization of the overall riverwalk development. The design of embankment stabilization with stone riprap and sheet pile was also key for the installation of new stone paver paths along the water’s edge along several portions of Boone Creek.

The landscape design helped to unify the area’s character and create a unique sense of place while buffering adjacent residences and conflicting land uses. The landscape architects developed a lush, cohesive planting plan and distinctive appearance that provides multi-seasonal color and texture to create an attractive, reduced-maintenance garden environment.

HR Green provided professional design services for the grading, paving, signage, and landscaping along the mile-long path. Design objectives included shoreline stabilization to mitigate the effects of watercraft usage, ADA accessibility, signage, and site amenity design to emulate the historical context of existing landmarks.

The Riverwalk provides a downtown link and a community gathering area for residents. Building upon the enhanced riverfront’s character, future phases will extend the pedestrian experience and integrate existing businesses and proposed stakeholder revitalization efforts.

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