Construction to start soon on Avondale Estates town greenConstruction of the town green in Avondale Estates is set to begin soon as fences around the property went up during the last week of May. Photo by Zoe Seiler.
Avondale Estates, GA — Fences were put up last week around the lot of the new town green in Avondale Estates. Construction is set to begin within the next couple of weeks, City Manager Patrick Bryant said.
The city and the development team are meeting on Wednesday, June 2, to discuss the details of the project and set a date for the groundbreaking ceremony. Once construction begins, the project will be complete in about 270 days, Bryant said.
The town green project includes the construction of a four-acre park and an interim solution that replaces the commercial development. The park will be located along Highway 278/ North Avondale Road between Oak and Lake Streets.
This project has been years in the making. The city has been working on the town green for about five years. The project is a joint venture between the City Commission, the Downtown Development Authority and the Urban Redevelopment Agency.
Avondale Estates adopted a downtown master plan in 2014 which included converting the four-acre lot between Oak and Lake Streets into a park.
Several years ago the city bought the land that will be the town green. In 2018, Avondale launched an open, public process to determine the best use of the land. “Entry number nine” was the favorite, DDA Chair Dave Deiters said in a post on the DDA website.
The design was based on a concept submitted by local architect Sheri Locke in May 2019. Locke’s design included commercial buildings next to the road and a public green space behind them, Decaturish previously reported.
The original scope of the project included the mixed-use commercial development but Bryant said at the Feb. 10 City Commission meeting that the commercial element is not feasible at this time. In its place, the developers will create an open-air green space that can be used as for things like food trucks or event platforms.
The city reached an agreement and executed a memorandum of understanding with Fabric Developers in November 2019. Fabric then selected the design and construction firms. The City Commission approved a contract with Site Solutions to complete the design of the town green in December 2019.
The Urban Redevelopment Agency approved a contract in May 2021 with Reeves Young for the project construction. The base bid came in at $5.7 million which includes the construction of the park, stormwater, construction of a new street and the interim solution. Additionally, Reeves Young will add a fountain to the park and more lighting along Lake Street.
The city commissioners celebrated the progress of the project at the May 12 URA meeting after approving the construction contract with Reeves Young.
“I think this was the topic maybe at the very first meeting I was a part of in January of 2016 and to finally get to this point is very humbling and it makes me proud,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said at the May 12 URA meeting, adding that approving the contract was the proudest vote he’s taken.
The board members thanked everyone who has been involved in this project from city staff to former city commissioners to Second Century Avondale, Fabric Developers and others.
“It’s a great day and I’m proud to be part of the team that put this together,” Commissioner Lionel Laratte said at the meeting.
The park will help the city move toward having a walkable downtown which is stipulated in Avondale’s downtown master plan. The town green will provide additional green space for residents and visitors to enjoy and will be a great location for events and festivals, Deiters said in his post.
“We’re excited,” Bryant told Decaturish. “This is a project that has been many years in the making. It is truly transformative and will act as a catalyst for future development of the downtown.”
There are many new developments happening in downtown Avondale and the city is also working on other projects, like the U.S. 278 road diet and the complete streets project, that will improve the city. But the city cannot depend on those developments to fulfill its placemaking objective, Deiters said.
“The Town Green is a major step towards this ‘placemaking’ goal for our [commercial business district],” Deiters said. “All of these exciting changes will not only provide a more pleasant and viable downtown to be enjoyed by our residents – they will significantly increase the corresponding commercial property values, and therefore diversify and balance our tax digest.”
Mayor Jonathan Elmore said that the city and the developers have worked hard to get to this point and he also hopes the commercial component will be figured out soon.
“We’re all just excited to get started,” Elmore said. “We’re about to pass an overhaul of the zoning [code], the [U.S.] 278 project is underway so those are three pretty big projects. We’ve been working really hard to get here and coming out of all the COVID restrictions it’s just some really good news that we need right now, I think, for everybody.”
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