McKinney City Council voted May 5 to move forward with the improvement project as planned after weighing different options as businesses work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The goal of the project is to make this part of McKinney more attractive to visitors and welcome people back to downtown, Main Street Program Director Amy Rosenthal said. When finished, the project will result in enhanced lighting along the street, wider sidewalks, new planters, a designated valet section, and will also address water and wastewater utilities, according to city documents.
The city will begin the improvement project this summer in phases, as originally planned. Phase 1 of the improvement project will span from Louisiana and Church Street to Louisiana and Kentucky Street and is slated to start May 18, according to meeting documents. The second phase of the project will stretch from South Tennessee Street and Louisiana to Hwy. 5 and Louisiana, and is expected to begin in January, according to city documents. During construction at least one lane of traffic will always be open to help provide access to businesses in downtown McKinney through Louisiana, officials said.
Because nonessential businesses in downtown McKinney were forced to temporarily close to foot traffic through the coronavirus pandemic, many are trying to recover, city officials said. This caused the city to consider re-evaluating its current plan for Louisiana. The McKinney Main Street Program distributed a survey to downtown businesses to see if their business was along the construction route and if these businesses had a preferred timeline for the project to be completed.
The city considered four options it had presented to local businesses in the survey. These options spanned proceeding with the current schedule to delaying the project by a year and adjusting the phasing.
Based on responses from the survey, businesses preferred for the city to either proceed with construction as planned or to delay the project by one year but keep the phases the same.
After some discussion, the council opted to move forward with the project as planned, but only with the understanding that the city would work to help businesses on Louisiana directly impacted by the construction, Mayor George Fuller said.
"Obviously this is a tough decision," Fuller said. "If we had a crystal ball we’d have a much clearer decision."
His concern with delaying the project stemmed from the possibility that downtown businesses just starting to recover from the pandemic's impact would be stifled in their recoveries if construction began in 2021, he said.
A vote to move forward with the project was approved 5-2, with Council Members Scott Elliott and Frederick Frazier voting against.
Funding for the Louisiana project is available in the Town Center Infrastructure Improvements fund. The construction contract includes bonus incentives for early completion.