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Downtown Square Streetscape Project in Center nears completion

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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CENTER, Texas (KTRE) - In the center of Shelby County sits the City of Center. For quite some time, around the downtown square sat a heap of construction now nearing completion.

A decade in the making, the downtown square portion of the Streetscape Project in Center is complete with one more phase now underway.

“We realized our square needed attention,” said Mayor David Chadwick. “It needed redirection.”

Chadwick said they held dozens of meetings with residents, business owners, and county and state officials with three major highways around the square to get their input.

“They were very varied in their thoughts and what would be,” Chadwick said. “I don’t think any of us really saw what we have today of that final project, but we can each see different aspects of what our thought patterns were reflected in the work that has been accomplished.”

City officials said the project served several purposes including beautification, accessibility, infrastructure, and traffic flow.

“With the flow of traffic and everything around the square, we’re still are allowing people to flow easily around the square,” Chadwick said. “The design of pulling out the sidewalks farther into the street itself allows us a warmer feel of getting from the outside store owners to the parking area there. It has given a more village and park feel.”

“We replaced two 1920-era manholes that were made of brick and not concrete,” said City Manager Chad Nehring. “We replaced 60- to 70-year-old water lines throughout the square in a variety of areas and under every single roadway surface that had aged and deteriorated.”

Nehring said the final bidding costs of construction for this phase were slightly under four million dollars.

“The predominant portion of this project was paid for with local debt issuance,” Nehring said. “Fortunately, the majority of that annual debt services was paid for out of sales tax, so general property taxes were impacted roughly by one cent to complete this project.”

“Even though with the pandemic, with all the rain, with the disturbance of our pattern, our sales tax continued to grow throughout that full period of time,” Chadwick said.

Business owners said they are seeing an impact, too.

“There were lots of people who avoided the downtown square,” said COR Boutique Owner and Designer Jasper Corbell. “But with that, I think to each person that avoided it during the process there were ten people who came to support the businesses that were being dealt with it. Now that it is done, there are so many people from out of town who are coming because of the hype of the new downtown. It’s brought a lot more people in who’s enjoying walking around the whole square.”

“We have a showcase here now you can compare to any town in East Texas and the State of Texas actually,” said Optometrist Randy Collard. “It’s great for the City and the only way here is up.”

Officials say phase two of the project addresses some of the entrances to the square. Nehring said that phase is funded with grants from the Department of Agriculture and some local matches and they hope the construction is complete soon.

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