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Denison breaks ground on D3 project

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat

For nearly a half-decade, Denison leaders and downtown stakeholders have dreamed of visions of a renewed streetscape with improved pedestrian space, outdoor seating and other improvements.

Now, that vision is becoming reality.

Crews with the city of Denison officially broke ground Tuesday on the first, $16.4 million phase of the Designing Downtown Denison project, which will transform and modernize the city's downtown district as a part of efforts to bring reinvestment to the city's core.

For Interim City Manager Bobby Atteberry, Tuesday's groundbreaking represents the culmination of five years of effort by the city. Atteberry said he can still remember the first meetings held to get feedback on the project. Never did he expect that he would be the city manager who oversaw the start of construction.

A timeline of Designing Downtown Denison

"The best thing I can say is (it is) outstanding," Atteberry said. "When this thing started five years ago ... it felt more like a dream at that point because, first of all, we had to get through design at that phase and then hope there was money in the TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) to do construction immediately after that."

The project will see major work on the majority of downtown Main Street stretching from east of the Austin Avenue intersection to the intersection with Armstrong. The redesign will eliminate the use of curbs and  make the route zero profile along with upgraded infrastructure in the district. The profile of the road will also be reduced to create more space along the sides for shoppers and downtown visitors.

While Tuesday saw the formal groundbreaking, Atteberry said work began in earnest last week after construction manager Piazza Construction received the notice to proceed. This allowed Pizza to start purchasing the pieces needed to complete the work.

Denison held its Designing Downtown Denison groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

"They began submitting documents for what they are proposing to use for drainage structures, as an example, water lines and sewer lines," Atteberry said.

The first few months of the 22-month project will focus on Houston street where a major box culvert will be worked on as a part of the project. From there, crews will begin working their way toward Main Street itself. The first phase will encompass three blocks and end near Rusk Street.

"For the first three months, maybe six months, the major activity will be on Houston, and then on Main moving east with the water and utility structures,"Atteberry said.

Outside of the improvements at Houston, Atteberry said Phase 1 would also include water features at all four corners of the intersection with Rusk and a restructure and narrowing of the intersection with Austin Avenue.

"We wanted to create a wow factor for phase one so that people get excited for the future phases," Atteberry said regarding the water feature.

Denison held its Designing Downtown Denison groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

Phase two will pick up where the first ended just past city hall and continue for another three blocks. One of the major components of the second phase will be the improvements to Heritage Park, which will see landscaping work and potentially a water feature. The city officially town ownership of Heritage Park in late 2019.

Early designs for improvements for the park called for features that would easily allow the park profile to expand into neighboring streets during major events like Music on Main.

"Heritage Park is certainly something we we are going to key up and do once we get that that phase," Atteberry said.

Denison held its Designing Downtown Denison groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

Another major public amenity will likely be its own phase all together. Atteberry said the city is still considering its options for creating a public event center and amphitheater in the 700 block of W. Main where Denison High School once stood. However, designs for that part of the project are still in their infancy.

Currently there is no time table for when future phases will see construction. This will be decided based on how quickly the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone generates funding.

The TIRZ operates by setting aside a portion of property tax revenues for the district for projects and improvements specific to the district itself. As the values of property within the district increase based on the improvements, more money is generated for future improvements.

"The way the growth is looking, as we complete phase 1, and the shops in that area begin to be more successful, the TIRZ is going to build faster," Atteberry said.