(Rendering courtesy Kelso & Easter Inc.)
Construction is scheduled to wrap up this month at the site of a former downtown eyesore.
Workers are expected to finish the $3 million first phase of the facelift at Kanawha Plaza, a 3-acre site bounded by East Canal, South Seventh, East Byrd and South Ninth streets. Once complete, the plaza will become the largest green space downtown, says Don Summers, a chief capital project manager with the city’s Department of Public Works.
The goal is to create a pedestrian-friendly gathering space, Summers says. Beyond new lighting, landscaping and pathways, the plaza will be a place for food vendors to field the downtown lunch rush, and will have an electrical hookup that could accommodate a temporary stage for events.
The administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones had hoped to complete the project in time for the UCI Road World Championships, held last September. Demolition was completed before the event, and a groundbreaking was held last August, but construction did not get underway in earnest until early 2016, Summers says. The project, originally envisioned as a $6 million revamp, was dealt a further blow when anticipated private funding did not materialize.
Additional improvements will be made when funds become available, says Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s spokeswoman.