Downtown Alley Renovations Planned for Summer 2016
A long awaited improvement to a Downtown section of Pearl Alley and Lynn Alley will finally come to fruition this summer. Streetscape enhancements that were originally announced in late 2012 have been approved for construction this Spring, with a grand opening slated for June.
The Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District is overseeing the project, and Executive Director Cleve Ricksecker said that although delayed, the purpose of the project remains the same.
“We want to encourage the development of small scale permanent retailing in Pearl and Lynn Alleys,” he stated. “There are very few places in Downtown where one can create clusters of starter spaces for retail. The improvements will help encourage development of the alley system. It’s designed to draw people through.”
The project’s footprint would stretch on Pearl between Gay Street and Broad Street, and on Lynn between High Street and Third Street. The site hosts the Pearl Market during the summer months, and is already home to a handful of small businesses including Si Senor, Oliver’s, The Alley Bar and El Arepazo. Ricksecker would like to see more.
“The buildings are such that you can create small boxes for retail,” he said. “The Church of Scientology building is ideal for conversion into a dozen little retail boxes facing Lynn, but it has been off and on the market for the past five years and is currently not available.”
The alley improvement project will be rolled out in several phases. Phase one, which will be completed this summer, includes streetscape enhancements, dumpster enclosures, new lighting, artwork installations by local sculptor Malcolm Cochran, and decorative entrance signage. Additional shrubbery installations and greenery will be installed during a later phase.
While the project only affects one city block of alley space, Ricksecker thinks that the improvements could set a precedent that could be replicated easily when other opportunities arise, such as the stretch of Pearl Alley behind The Madison buildings just north of Gay Street, which will soon be redeveloped with a plan that calls for additional alley-facing retail business spaces.
“The issue Downtown is the lack of building fabric that can be used by independent retailers,” said Ricksecker. “But there’s an appeal of alleys — retail loves alleys — because the scale is more accessible.”
Renderings via MKSK / Capital Crossroads SID.