Earlier this week, the Roanoke City Council received an update on its planned $4.7 million “renovation” of Elmwood Park and also heard an unrelated pitch by Downtown Roanoke Inc. President Sean Luther and developer Lucas Thornton to rework Market Square into more of a pedestrian focal point.
The pitch for Market Square — which would involve removing the parking and planting trees around the two small lots across from the Market Building for more vendor stalls and a gathering space — was somewhat vague about financing at first, but it then became clear that Thornton hopes the city will invest the $250,000 he thinks it will take to make his plan a reality. It is, he said, a public space.
The city council seems open to the plan. Here’s a line from my story on Tuesday: Vice Mayor Court Rosen noted that by next year, the city will have invested about $20 million into the market corridor — including renovations of the Market Building, Market Garage and a planned reworking of Elmwood Park. He suggested that spending another quarter-million on Market Square may be a wise investment, particularly if it’s completed by the time Center in the Square is set to reopen in the spring of 2013.
Here’s how that $20 million is roughly figured:
– $6.6 million to renovate the market garage.
– $7.9 million to renovate the Market Building.
– $4.7 million that’s planned to renovate Elmwood Park.
That adds up to $19.2 million, so I’m guessing that Rosen rounded up.
Last month, Dwayne Yancey and I discussed the back-and-forth on the amphitheater that’s planned as part of the Elmwood Park improvements.
But what about widening that a bit to consider the city’s investment in the greater corridor between the Market Building and Elmwood Park? Do you think this is a good investment of taxpayer money?
Is this the 21st Century version of Design ’79? Or is it a boondoggle? Come to think of it, was Design ’79 a boondoggle?
Will this investment draw visitors, spur business and attract private sector development? Or is it a waste of money?
– Mason Adams