Union Square designs approved; other bond projects move forward

HICKORY, NC (November 8, 2018) — Following a presentation by design firms LandDesign and 505Design at the November 6 City Council meeting, Hickory City Council unanimously approved the plans recommended by the Bond Implementation Commission for renovating Union Square and enhancing the streetscapes in downtown to better coordinate with City Walk plans. 

The plans increase “dwell time” in downtown by creating spaces where visitors can comfortably enjoy solitary or group activities.  Keeping with the recommendations from the City Walk Subcommittee and downtown stakeholders, the designs maintain the historic feel of the Square.  They also modernize aesthetics and enhance the space with a distinguished promenade along Union Square storefronts, a central pathway bisecting two large lawn areas, and additional seating areas called garden rooms or parklets.

The design includes new public restrooms and a multi-purpose shade structure on the east side of the square.  The primary stage for performances under the Sails remains intact.

The Union Square plans also include elevating the cannon on a multi-tiered structure, nicknamed Cannon Hill, which will serve as an interactive feature, as well as offer additional seating and a unique vantage point of the Square.

Additional elements of the plans entail increasing lighting, adding atmospheric music, and offering complimentary Wi-Fi for downtown visitors. 

The Bond Implementation Commission met on November 1 and approved the Union Square and Downtown Block Plan for construction, as presented by the designers.

Once the project has been awarded, the City will work with contractors to coordinate sequencing of construction to minimize impact and disruption of business for downtown retailers.  Access to Union Square merchants will remain available throughout construction.

New parking in the flag court will be completed prior to any construction of the City Walk.  The City is also working on a downtown parking study that proposes modifying current leased and unrestricted parking in the two parking lots closest to Union Square to add approximately 115 3-hour parking spaces for downtown patrons.

City Walk

City Walk plans for the main multi-purpose pathway have been submitted for constructability review by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and are currently under review with Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR).  The plans, once receiving final approval from NCDOT and a project agreement from NSRR, will go the Federal Highway Administration for authorization to bid the project.

The goal is to have the project out to bid by the end of the year, with construction slated for the first quarter of 2019.

In preparation for City Walk construction, the City of Hickory has started working on relocating utilities and replacing waterlines along Main Avenue NE/NW.  Trees have been moved along this route so that Duke Energy can begin setting new light poles as early as next week.  

A contract was awarded at the November 6 City Council meeting to Hickory Sand Company, Inc. for the replacement and rehabilitation of water and sewer infrastructure along the City Walk path.

Gateway

Construction contracts for the US Highway 321/70 Gateway have been awarded Southern Lawnscapes and Sign Systems, Inc. and the project is under construction.  Drawings for the steel leaf structure have been completed.  All quadrants of the interchange will receive landscaping improvements and are now ready for landscaping beds.

Riverwalk

Designs for Riverwalk are progressing. The City and project designers are working with the Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance to minimize crossings of the Riverwalk path and the Lake Hickory Trails.

Like the City Walk, the Riverwalk project will be separated into two bid packages.  The first bid package, using a combination of bond and grant funding, will include the iconic Rosales bridge and the entrance area to the Riverwalk.  The second bid package, funded solely by bond monies, will include the on-land connection from the iconic bridge to the future Lackey Park and the bike trail coordination.

For more information about City of Hickory’s bond projects, please visit www.hickorync.gov/content/bond-information.