Casper’s downtown plaza still needs millions of dollars and some pieces to fall into place before demolition, construction and an eventual opening.
The Casper City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the lease agreement and a new understanding between the city and the Downtown Development Authority for the David Street Station. They’ll also vote to lease parking spots for Wold Bros Inc. workers, a downtown business whose parking is being impacted by the plaza’s construction.
Once the Council approves the parking leases, the project will be back on track, said DDA Director Executive Director Kevin Hawley.
“As far as timing, I’d say we’re a little off, but nothing that’s going to blow up the project,” he said.
The DDA has also been working with Ames Automotive as the auto shop looks for new location. The plaza will be built on its current site. Hawley said Monday the owner had found a new location and that demolition for the plaza could start in the next month. The DDA has raised $5.5 million in hard money for the project, he said, and is looking at grants to find the additional $2 million it will cost to build the David Street Station.
The new understanding between the city and the DDA shows that the project will happen in stages, said assistant city manager Liz Becher.
“All these pieces of property have to be acquired and then there is demolition scheduled for each of the various phases,” Becher said. “What we had in the original (understanding) last fall was that it would all happen at the same time. That was probably wishful thinking.”
Hawley told the Star-Tribune in January he anticipated a spring 2017 opening, but that the plaza could possibly open during the 2016 holiday season.
“Right now, it’s just fiscally responsible for us to extend that construction period a little bit longer and realize those savings,” he said.
Despite the current setbacks, Hawley said the plaza should be open in April or May of 2017. The timeline would give the plaza enough time to work out some of the quirks before the city’s solar eclipse festival later that year, he said.
Tuesday afternoon’s meeting should be a step toward the plaza’s construction, a move that Becher said she’s hopeful to see start by this June.
“It’s getting the pieces kind of assembled so that that plaza can be built out,” Becher said.