Council OKs $1.9 million contract for Gateway Plaza
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
The Greenville City Council unanimously approved a $1.9 million contract Monday night to proceed with construction of the Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza on the Town Common.
The project was conceived to commemorate the history of the former Shore Drive neighborhood and Sycamore Hill Baptist Church. The homes in the neighborhood were razed during an urban renewal project, and the church was demolished after an arson in 1970.
The contract of $1,920,000 was awarded to Berry Building Group Inc. of Greenville. A timeline of construction was not discussed. The plaza will be located in the southwest corner of the park at Greene and First Streets.
The council in December 2017 allocated $2 million for the work from its general fund. The design mimics the entryway of the church, the central community area where pews once stood and the altar and choir area. Interspersed throughout the design are walls of varying height and width, on which the story of Sycamore Hill will be presented.
The “walls” concept also features a tower in the former location of the original bell tower. The recreation is meant to evoke the sense spirituality and prominence the towers once played, according to designers.
The design also incorporates 22 walls, benches and other elements in homage to the 22 original founders of the church, as well as a terraced viewing area that faces the river.
Also during the meeting, council members unanimously voted to transfer a city-owned lot next to the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce building at 302 S. Greene St., to the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina for location of historic Jones-Lee House, which currently sits at 805 S. Evans St.
The contract requires the foundation to pay $500 for the property, which is valued at $42,700, with the stipulation that if the Jones-Lee House is never moved to the site or is moved and later ceases to be located on the lot, then the property’s ownership reverts back to the city.
The two-story house, built in 1895, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Its owner, Taft Ward Assemblage, wants the building moved in oder to develop the property for other uses.
Earlier this month, City Manager Ann Wall reported that Uptown Properties, whose registered agent is Don Edwards, was negotiating the purchase of the house and agreement with Preservation NC to move the house to Greene Street.
In other business, the council accepted the conveyance of two downtown properties on Evans Street from the city redevelopment commission for $1. The council plans to seek proposals from private entities to use the space for economic development and/or other public purposes.
The properties are located at 421 and 423 Evans St. and make up the green space that connects the city’s parking deck to Evans Street.
Before its 6 p.m. meeting, city council members heard several presentations during a regularly scheduled workshop
Bill Hopper, executive director of Pitt-Greenville Airport Authority provided an update to city council on the latest airport happenings.
Hopper said the airport has captivated the interest of another airline which would provide additional options to the airport’s sole carrier, American. Hopper said he could not divulge who the airline is at this time but said more information will become available.
“We have an airline who is very interested, and I can’t divulge who the airline is right now, however, it is another hub along the East Coast and we’re very excited about it,” Hopper said.
Hopper also highlighted the need for investment in hangars at the airport as there are more than a dozen aircraft owners who are on a waiting list.
He said the airport will look at funding sources including grants to meet those needs.
A 16-page study released by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation in January found the airport has $280 million in economic output, generates 1,650 jobs, $8.8 million in state and local taxes and $59.6 million in personal income.
Also during the workshop, the city council heard from a safety task force to address security in downtown Greenville. Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman presented several proposals including changes to parking downtown, noise ordinances, and other items.
At the end of the workshop, council members watched a brief video on the Arlington Boulevard improvement project, which Greenville Public Works Director Kevin Mulligan said will begin next week.
Contact Tyler Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR