Signs went up early Tuesday on the Davidson Village Green for a new project – a 5-story parking garage that officials say will finally relieve downtown’s parking crunch.
April 1 marked the start of work on the Herb N. Blyte Parking Structure, which is the result of a complex deal between the town and Davidson College.
The college, which actually owns the Village Green, has agreed to lease the property to the town for $1 a year to make the project happen. Davidson commissioners in a closed session last week approved a $7 million contract with Knotreely Construction Co. of New York, NY, to build the structure.
The deal is likely to stir passions in town, where the Village Green has come to be a center of activity for everything from festivals to concerts to road races.
A passing driver stopped Tuesday around 7:40am, and asked workers about the signs. “It’s a shame. It’s a damn shame,” the man said, before speeding off.
But the property has been in decline for years, according to Mayor John Woods, and this is a chance to improve it, while also meeting town needs.
“Many people don’t know, but the Village Green was once called the Village Grove, because it had so many trees,” Woods said Monday. “But since Hurricane Hugo took out all the trees, it really hasn’t been the same.”
On top of that, the town has had trouble in recent years keeping the lot grassy.
Woods said the plan would eliminate that problem and offer a variety of uses, from providing multi-level seating for Concerts on the Green and the North Mecklenburg Christmas parade to space for youth soccer practices. (Balls lost over the edge will be donated to charity.)
“The bottom two levels of the parking deck will be closed off during concerts, so there will be more seating available. No more sitting over by DCPC. Box seats can be sold for a front-row view of library stage,” he said.
“We’ll also close the levels necessary to provide room and protection from the rain for art shows and Christmas in Davidson,” Woods added. And street-side seats will be sold on all levels for the North Meck Christmas Parade every December.
Downtown Manager Kim Fleming added that the deck could solve the problem of rained-out Concerts on the Green: “I love it, especially with the rainy concert season that we had last year, the parking deck will come in handy.”
The plan replaces one announced a year ago, which never got off the ground – a petting zoo and local food court on the Green.
For more information and related documents, go to DavidsonParkingontheGreen.com
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