Sometimes I pick up little tidbits or people give me little pieces of information (which I always appreciate, by the way) and it sort of piles up without a really commanding a full article. I also get asked about little details about downtown and sometimes I later stumble onto an answer (or actually dig and find it) and by that time I don’t remember who asked. So, this is the article where I put several of those small pieces of information together. Some of these topics may be expanded later into full articles as I learn more.
One of the things I’m most excited about involves the property pictured above at 30 Market Square. I’ve mentioned it a number of times over the years (here’s an example from just over three years ago). It’s the obviously blighted property on Market Square with the aging grey-painted plywood covering the ground floor. It’s always been a puzzle to me that architects would want that to be their face to the world, but as privately owned property, the city had little appetite or leverage to do much about it. Now it turns out a solution has been reached: the city will lease the property.
It gets even better when you ask the reason the city is leasing the space. A purchase has been made or will soon be made of a $35,000 to $40,000 sound system for use on the Market Square Stage. It should tremendously improve volume and quality of sound for the numerous events and concerts centered on that spot. But it needs to be stored nearby and 30 Market Square is an obviously available space.
So we get a better sound system and the city takes over the front portion of the bottom floor of that address – and makes the store-front presentable. The plywood should be gone very soon – possibly this week – and the city will do something to make the front windows at ground level attractive to passersby. I’m not sure what will be in the windows, but there will be windows. I might guess displays promoting the city. A win all the way around until someone is ready to restore the facade of the building in a more complete manner.
Another property I often get asked about is at the intersection of Church and State. It’s the former site of the News Sentinel and has been a vacant lot since that building was torn down. After several ill-fated proposals, the announcement was made in 2012 that the site would be developed as a Residence Inn. Nearly three years after that announcement several readers have noted the recent activity on the site: The informal parking lot was closed by fencing and construction equipment appeared on the site. It prompted some hope that development of the site is looming.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. KUB is doing extensive work downtown and they needed a staging ground for that work. Since the city owns the property, that was a logical choice. They plan to use it for the next nine months to a year after which it is possible it will be used as a staging ground for the improvements to the 700 block of Gay Street. All of which makes the idea of the formerly proposed Residence Inn sound less likely, certainly in the near future.
Finally for today: I’ve never mentioned the efforts the city is making to move the garbage cans from view. They’ve added several enclosures various places around town and that will continue. Notably, along Wall Avenue, the garbage cans there should be moved inside a new enclosure which will be located closer to the street allowing full usage of the sidewalk there. The one on Union is set to be expanded and others will likely appear in the future.
There are several other changes afoot and I’ll have more of those in days to come.