The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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June 20, 2013

Taking steps for downtown’s future

GREENVILLE — It is hoped construction work currently under way on one downtown Greenville street could help a plan to redevelop two vacant downtown buildings.

There is also a proposal being considered to transform a segment of Oak Street into a pedestrian walkway in the future.

Last week, crews with the City of Greenville began tearing out a portion of Oak Street, between Lee and Washington streets, in order to install a water and sewer main.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Greenville Board of Development/4A Economic Development Corporation, Interim City Manager/Director of Public Works Massoud Ebrahim explained the project is designed to assist in the re-development of two buildings on the west end of downtown Greenville.

The Plano-based Chicago Legacy Group began renovations in early 2011 to both 2901 and 2909 Lee Street. The “Guess Lofts” were designed to restore the building’s exterior appearance from decades ago with a modern look inside.

The proposal received unanimous approval of the Main Street Advisory Board in December 2010. Facade grants have also been provided through the Board of Development.

But Ebrahim noted the buildings were never really served by a connection a water/sewer main.

“Those buildings were connected to an old two-inch main off of Washington Street,” Ebrahim said.

Under the current project, the buildings will be connected to two mains, one each on Lee and Washington, improving the water pressure and water volume.

“The two-inch line couldn’t push water to the second floor,” Ebrahim explained. “Now you will have water to the second floor and beyond. Water is not going to be an issue in that corridor.”

Board of Development President and CEO Greg Sims there is also a proposal being considered to permanently close the section of Oak Street and transform it into a pedestrian walkway.

Sims said the street is too narrow to be an effective vehicle crossing and it is often used by people who park on Lee Street to walk to and from concerts and other events at Greenville Municipal Auditorium.

“Getting people back and forth ... I think it is a super idea,” Sims said.

The City of Greenville recently obtained a proposal from Pacheco Koch to design landscape architectural services for the project, at a cost of $10,000. Sims said the Board of Development might be able to pay for the design, which would include concrete planters at the Lee Street end and removable bollards at the Washington Street end, benches and gates and lighting. A rough estimate for the work came in at just under $78,000.

“That does not include anything to do with the street,” Sims said.

He added the Board of Development could make a recommendation to the City Council to pass an ordinance to close the street, with the costs for the bulk of the project — and who would pay for the effort — to be considered in the future.

“We need to review this in terms of our budget,” Sims said.

Members of the Board said they were in favor of the project, if it included the lighting needed.

“If you don’t have the lighting and dress it up, no one is going to use it,” said Larry Green.

“It is just an alley,” agreed Roz Lane.

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