The redevelopment plans now carry a higher price tag than initially proposed when the city allocated $15 million for three projects. Kimley-Horn and Mesa Design Group presented renderings and estimated costs for downtown improvements to council members during a work session on June 7, where they received feedback. The firms returned during an Aug. 2 work session with updated cost estimates and designs based on the feedback they last received during the June work session for the three projects that would transform three streets in the Rail District: Elm Street, Main Street and the Fourth Street Plaza.
Since the work session on June 7, the construction of Elm Street, which is the first project, has been bidded on, and the city is ready to enter a construction contract with a bidder that came in within the $5 million budget. Construction on Elm Street will begin in September, and the contract will be presented to the council in a future City Council meeting, according to Director of Engineering Services Paul Knippel.
For the second project, Kimley-Horn and Mesa Design Group presented three scenarios for Main Street construction. Scenario 1 would be a complete build-out from 1st Street to County Road. All parkways, medians, street pavement and intersections would be made new and will cost $22.7 million. In Scenario 2, no street pavement would be improved, but new sidewalks, pavers and trees would installed and would cost $12 million. Scenario 3 combines the first two scenarios and features a full build-out from 3rd Street to 5th Street. The sidewalks would be improved and the remaining intersections reconstructed for a cost of $14.8 million.
Overhead electrical power can be buried underground from 5th Street to County Road for an additional $1 million per block. Council members chose to move forward with the design of the first scenario, priced at $22.7 million, plus an additional $3 million to bury electrical power. The pricing is an early estimate, according to the Kimley-Horn and Mesa Design Group representative, and also factors in a 20% construction contingency and 15% inflation contingency to offset the increasing price of building materials and account for a changing market because the project will take at least 12 months to be ready to build, according to the representative.
The final project is the Fourth Street Plaza, slated to cost $16.4 million. This would include construction for the stage, water feature, gateway monument, restrooms and more.
Council members discussed funding options with a possible bond election for the Main Street and Fourth Street projects. Knippel noted the city has enough funds to move forward with the first scenario on Main Street and the Fourth Street Plaza, but it would mean other projects might be put on hold. One project mentioned was the widening of Lebanon Road from Teel Parkway to FM 423, which is in the design phase.
“We have some park bond money that we can apply to [the plaza] now that wouldn’t displace anything else,” Knippel said. “With respect to the road, assuming our cost projects hold out on the other jobs we have on the board right now, we feel like we could fund the road almost at the all-in level [for Main Street] as well.”
Mayor Jeff Cheney and City Council members noted the significant increase in price estimates since the last meeting but agreed to move forward with the designs of the Main Street and Fourth Street Plaza projects.
“At the end of the day, rather than piecemeal something together in the Rail District, let’s laser-focus on the rail district here,” Mayor Jeff Cheney said. “Let’s do our part to get this going and magnify it here with these projects.”
Kimley-Horn and Mesa Design Group plan to start on the detailed design of Scenario 1 and come back in a later month to present new renderings and updated cost estimates.
“To me, this is the right thing for our city,” City Council Member Angelia Pelham said. “I just think our downtown is so incongruent with the rest of the city, so if this closes the gap, I think this is a great investment."