Willmeng Selected for $5M water project in Avondale

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Currently, most of the area between West Van Buren Street and West City Center Drive in Avondale is dry, choking dirt. Avondale City Council envisions it as cool, relaxing water — a lake and fountains. On Oct. 19, council approved the launch of “The BLVD Water Features Project in an amount not to exceed $400,000” and established a Capital Improvement Project budget of $4.8 million. Willmeng Construction was selected to design the project, with construction scheduled for March through June. Beyond the Randall McDaniel Sports Complex, My Place Hotel and parking areas, there is not much in the sprawling area west of Avondale Boulevard between Van Buren and Roosevelt Streets. But Avondale has the “Field of Dreams” mantra of “if you build it, they will come.”

“The city’s vision for The BLVD is to be a pedestrian-oriented, walkable, family-friendly live-workplay-entertainment attraction,” stressed agenda material. Inside the sprawling BLVD zone, “the city is initiating placemaking by designing and constructing several water features in the Park Avenue District.” The water project will have three features. A lake—just under an acre in size—“will be stocked with fish for pedestrian viewing, but not for fishing. The city anticipates a pedestrian crossing across the water surface for connectivity within this future central plaza area.” Two fountains and/or waterfalls are part of the water plan, to be at Avondale Boulevard and the entrance to The BLVD.

“This water feature will be surrounded by walkways, a pedestrian bridge and commercial and residential developments shaping an urban central open space for visitors, businesses and residents living in The BLVD,” said Pier Simeri, a city spokeswoman. “The project is funded largely from the sale of city property on The BLVD, namely the Avid Hotel and Dutch Bros. sites, which are currently under development and due to begin construction in the coming weeks,” Simeri said.

“Future property sales will contribute to the project.” The launch of the Water Features Project was part of the Oct. 19 consent agenda, which council passed unanimously and without discussion. The West Valley View emailed the six council members and Mayor Kenn Weise, asking them to explain why they support the $5 million project.

“The initial investments in The BLVD, such as median improvements along Avondale Blvd, and aesthetic enhancements, will spur development sooner, bringing in private development investment for the long term future of this exciting growth area of the city,” Weise responded. “Land sales from The BLVD  are going towards the cost of these improvements,” Weise added. “It’s important to note that development for The BLVD is taking place simultaneously with major capital improvements in other areas of the city and that development is occurring all across the city.” He said the city is “working with several prospects to locate at The BLVD.”

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