Though crews will not begin work on the $7.5 million renovation of the Downtown Mall for another two months, City officials cut the ribbon on the project at a ceremony held on November 6, 2008. Work crews cleared a pile of bricks and showed off the construction fences to preview the scope of the project.
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Mary Loose DeViney, owner of Tuel Jewelers at 319 East Main Street, announced she is serving as one of the block captains for the project. The volunteer block captains will serve as a liaison between business owners and officials with Barton Malow, the construction management firm that is overseeing the project.
“What I will do is go around and tell my individual businesses and residents what’s going on, what’s the construction schedule, when will they be doing certain things,” DeViney said. She said the project would result in a brand new mall, but pointed out that construction will not begin until after the holidays.
Jim Tolbert, the Director of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development Services, was on hand to explain how the project would proceed. He pointed to an exposed slab concrete on 5th Street NE where the bricks had been removed and said that in most cases, crews will not be digging more than a few inches. Tolbert told the crowd of about 40 people that construction would begin around January 15, 2009 and would be mostly wrapped up by May 1, 2009.
“We’re doing the entire Mall at one time so we can get finished by May 1, and we’ll have a lot of people down here, a lot of crews,” Tolbert said. He said the construction fences would only be four feet tall so that pedestrians can see the “rapidly moving project” in action. Tolbert said his department is beginning to award contracts to the various work crews that will be hired.
Mayor Dave Norris said he was confident that this Mall renovation would go smoothly, unlike the recent brick-work installed on 3rd Street NE. Completion of that project was delayed due to unforeseen obstacles involving underground utilities.
“Bear with us,” Norris said. “There will be a little pain but the gain will be worth it in the end and we’ll all have a brand new Mall that we can enjoy for the next 30, 40, 50 years.”
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