‘Carver Circle’ growing soon
Published 12:28 am Friday, January 17, 2014
The city will get moving this spring on one of the signature elements of The Fairgrounds Revitalization plan, officials announced Wednesday.
Dubbed Carver Circle, the landscaped circle honoring George Washington Carver’s research into the many uses of the peanut also will commemorate a century’s worth of agricultural, technological and economic growth in Suffolk attributable to the little legume.
The project should be complete by summer, Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said during City Council’s work session Wednesday.
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The Fairgrounds is a redevelopment project in the downtown area that has been underway for many years. Its primary features include the Health and Human Services building on Hall Avenue and a planned Phoenix Bank renovation that would include a museum and city offices on the second floor.
It also includes numerous single-family homes, four of which have been sold so far, Planning and Community Development Director Scott Mills said Wednesday.
The proposed Carver Circle is smaller in scope than originally envisioned by a planning committee, Roberts said. It would not be a traffic circle and would have a more modest stone marker acknowledging Carver’s contributions and their effects on Suffolk, Roberts said.
As originally proposed, the project would have cost about $500,000 because of elaborate stonework and statues, which has been part of what has prohibited its construction thus far, Roberts said. The current proposal would cost about $75,000, which is already available, he said.
The circle would be located near the intersection of Hall Avenue, Culloden Street and East Washington Street. Roberts said the additional maintenance cost likely would be minimal.
Also in the presentation, Roberts proposed eliminating part of the Fairgrounds project that encompassed the parking lot for the Planters facility and Tynes Street Park, which was recently renovated by Planters employees. Improvements to the Liberty Street parking lot are also in the works.
Next steps also include identifying a development partner and conveying the property to the Economic Development Authority.
The city already has invested more than $30 million into various parts of the project, including about $15 million for the Health and Human Services building, $2.7 million for the police precinct, nearly $5 million for the property acquisition and relocation of residents that cleared the area, and various street and utility improvements.
Mills on Wednesday pointed to private investments that have followed from Planters, Monument Construction and various other businesses.