City of Racine


Racine Downtown Lakefront

Racine, Wisconsin

110-acre harbor, 22-acre upland park, 920 boat slips, 45 hectare harbor, 9 hectare upland park

Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning, Urban Planning and Design

“The harbor protection and facilities have exceeded expectations. Each year, visitors from throughout the U.S. and world visit Racine to view and study the harbor and marina and hear of its success.”

—Thomas N. Wright, Former Director of City Development


Racine's blighted waterfront had been largely abandoned when manufacturing moved elsewhere in the 1970s. SmithGroupJJR worked with community leaders and local businesses to revitalize the city's lakefront, rediscovering the water's natural beauty and its economic power to fuel a vibrant downtown.

The project's centerpiece is a 920-slip marina, anchored by parks that serve as gateways between the waterfront and downtown. With its new parks, pathways and public spaces, the harbor area quickly became a catalyst for redevelopment. New visitors and commerce spurred a variety of downtown improvements, including commercial infill, restaurants, retail and museums; that, in turn, led to a surge in downtown residential living, bringing renewed vitality to the urban core.

Twenty-five years since its renaissance, the Racine Lakefront stands as a model for rediscovering and redefining a city's waterfront – and what's possible with committed community partnerships and forward-thinking planning and design.