January 12, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
The first portion of uptown Martinsville’s revitalization project was unveiled on Wednesday, and additional improvements are planned soon.
City officials on Wednesday unveiled improvements to Depot Street, which was shifted about 10 to 15 feet to make way for future improvements. Martinsville public works officials cut a ribbon to show off the new location.
Those improvements will include new greenery, lighting, a small park, a water garden, a new stairway leading to TheatreWorks Community Players’ BlackBox Theatre, and repainting and resurfacing an existing parking lot, according to Wayne Knox, the city’s director of community development.
The area will be designed as comfortable place for theater-goers, walkers along the City Spur trail and visitors to the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum, which is in the former Henry County courthouse nearby.
A bathroom has been ordered for installation at the entrance to the Spur Trail, possibly by the end of March, Knox said.
A complete list of revitalization plans will be finalized within the next 45 to 60 days, he added.
As part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the city is to receive $691,325 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development plus $654,957 from The Harvest Foundation. The city is making an estimated $1.7 million worth of in-kind contributions to the project.
The Depot Street work was paid with Harvest funding.
The grants cover only the areas between Moss Street and Franklin Street, including parts of Fayette and Main streets, Knox said.
The revitalization work is being done to create “a more inviting environment” to make uptown a place people want to visit, Knox said. The fresh look could create a new environment for businesses and, in turn, an overall “better perception of the uptown area,” he said.
Plans include converting a vacant lot known as “The Pit” at the intersections of Main, Fayette and Moss streets into a “pedestrian-friendly area” for students and residents, Knox said.
Hill Studio of Roanoke, the architectural firm for the project, proposed that “The Pit” be a public gathering place with benches, a play area for children and public grills, according to Leon Towarnicki, director of public works and interim city manager.
Plans for “The Pit” are in the preliminary stages, and an easement is needed from a property owner, Knox said.
Landscaping is planned in an unused parking lot on Fayette Street that will be turned into a park, Knox said. In the plans, that area is called “College Park.”
More landscaping will be done on the front and sides of Courthouse Square, in addition to crosswalk work. Those improvements will be made by the Virginia Garden Club in cooperation with the Historical Society of Martinsville and Henry County, he added.
Other plans include new lighting and tree improvements on parts of Fayette Street; signs directing people to uptown attractions; and gateways at intersections to denote uptown entrances. The gateways will include ornamental brick walls, lighting or landscaping, Knox said.
The first phase of improvements is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013, he added.
The block grant will provide $5,000 per building for facade improvements along Fayette, Main and Jones streets. The Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association will provide additional funds for facade improvements to the property owners if needed, Knox said.
Ten property owners have agreed to improve their facades using the block grant funds, but cost estimates still are being discussed, he said. Work done that exceeds the coverage of funding will be the owner’s responsibility, he added.
The 10 properties include:
• 40 W. Main St. (owned by Mervyn and Virginia King) — The improvements will be made to the front and rear facades and left side of the building and will include refurbishing steel industrial windows and installing a new awning above the museum entry, among others.
• 45 Jones St. (owned by Robert Williams) — The improvements will be made to the front and right facades and will include installing new backer panels, three new soffit lights in the existing entrance canopy and installing new metal scuppers at two existing collector heads, among others.
• 68 W. Main St. (owned by Perry Harrold) — The improvements will be made to the front facade, including new siding with new trim around the window and door, and new apron trim below the window, among other things.
• 30 W. Main St. (owned by the Kings) — Improvements will be made to the front and rear facades including a new awning above the storefront and deep awnings above the upper windows, among other things.
• 44 Franklin St. (owned by the Kings) — Improvements will be made to the front facade, including the removal of the asphalt shingle roofing from the canopy and installing a standing seam metal roof, among other things.
• 12-20 Fayette St. (owned by Franchesca Lacy) — Improvements will be made to the front, right and left facades that will include refurbishing existing windows, patching and painting cornice, and other things.
• 61 Fayette St. (owned by Lyburn Travis) — Improvements will be made to the front, rear and sides of the building, which contains two businesses: Travis Barber Shop and Pam’s Styling. Among other improvements, Travis Barber Shop will install a new barber pole and paint brick lintel above the storefront window. Pam’s Styling will install two awnings over a door and front window. On the rear and sides of the building, the existing windows will be replaced, and the side and rear walls will be painted.
• 66 Fayette St. (owned by the Kings) — Improvements will be made to the front facade and right side, including the removal of silicone mastic from the brick where signage letters were removed previously, among other improvements.
• 28 Fayette St. (owned by the Kings) — Improvements will be made to the front facade, left side, and rear elevation, including the installation of a new awning above the storefront with two gooseneck lamps, among other things.
• 25 Fayette St. (owned by Barbara Shively) — Improvements will be made to the front and rear facades, including repairing or replacing deteriorated pressed tin ceiling in the rear facade, among other things.
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