Downtown Plaza Project
Over the last several years, there have been several studies and input from residents and business owners indicating that the City needs a gathering place downtown. To address this need, the mini-park on 18th Street is being expanded to create a 1 acre Downtown Plaza. This will provide an improved and expanded space for events such as the Farmer's Market, the NEXT Beer and Wine Fest, concerts, outdoor movies, and other activities.
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The goal of the plaza design is to create a comfortable space for a variety of events. A stage will be incorporated to facilitate concerts and outdoor movies. Trees around the perimeter will provide shade and help separate the space from the surrounding area. Grass throughout the area will help keep the plaza cool and create a multi-functional surface that can be used for several different types of activities.
In later phases, 18th Street will be closed off to provide additional space for events. This can be for the Farmers Market on Saturdays or to provide a separate space for food vendors during special events. This area will eventually be resurfaced with pavers, eliminating curbs so that the entire surface is one level to reduce the risk of tripping. Additional seating and a synthetic ice rink is also planned for this area in the future. The alley will remain open to provide a way for neighboring businesses to receive deliveries, but in later phases can be resurfaced to make it more attractive.
Public bathrooms have been identified as a need for the downtown for many years. Currently the City is investigating if it would be feasible to incorporate public restrooms into the back part of the building to the north of the plaza (see design). These restrooms would be sized for everyday use (around 2 stalls per restroom). Additional portable restrooms could be brought in to handle large-scale events.
The northwest corner of the area has been reserved for a Children's memorial. This is to be a beautiful space with a water feature where parents who have lost children can come to honor their memories.
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Phase I- In the first phase of the project, the buildings along 18th Street and the parking lot behind them will be removed. Grass and the landscaping around the perimeter of the space will be installed. This phase is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016.
Phase II- In the second phase, a stage will be built, and more of the pavement will be resurfaced to grass.
Phase III- In the third phase, 18th Street will be resurfaced to create one level surface for events. Other features, such as additional seating, shade structures, and a synthetic ice rink can then be incorporated into this space.
The project will be located on 18th Street, between Broadway and 1st Avenue. This location was selected for its proximity to Broadway and for the amount of available space.
The BID is responsible for the maintenance of all of the public parking lots downtown. Over the last few years, instead of just repairing parking lots, they have been working to beautify the downtown with landscaping, making it much more appealing to visitors.
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Prior to this project, all parking lots looked similar to the one shown above.
Before this project, all of the parking lots were concrete, with no green space at all. Thanks to the grant money and technical assistance from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, along with funding and support from the BID, more than 10,000 square feet of landscaping was added into the downtown parking lots.
These versatile projects serve many functions. Besides beautifying the downtown, they also capture stormwater, provide habitat for pollinators, and eventually, when the trees get bigger, will help cool the area.
Goldenrod and Liatris are great choices for areas that receive a lot of water. Here, all the stormwater runoff from the parking lot runs into this area where it can be used by the plants.
Large planting beds were used to give these trees plenty of space for their roots. These large shade trees will eventually help cool the parking lot on hot summer days.