A $2.46 million pavilion planned for Pack Square Park will be built, the group overseeing the park’s construction decided Jan. 7, but construction won’t start until later this year.
Last month, the Pack Square Conservancy’s board expressed doubt about proceeding with the project, citing concern about securing funding for the building during a slumping economy and delays in finalizing a construction contract. The board had expected work on the pavilion to begin last year, around the time it awarded a $7.5 million construction contract for the remainder of the park.
On Jan. 7, however, board members approved a motion postponing pavilion construction until late 2009 or early 2010. “Under this plan, construction on the pavilion would begin as work in other areas of the park draws to a close,” board Chair Carol King said as she read the motion. The delay will also give the conservancy more time to raise the rest of the money it needs—about $4 million—to fund the rest of the work on the park, the motion notes.
King said the conservancy had heard from a number of donors who urged the board to build the pavilion. The $20 million park is being built with a combination of private donations and taxpayers’ dollars.
The pavilion was envisioned as a key public space in the high-profile park. The 4,200-square-foot structure would sit at the center of northern border of the 6.5-acre park, which extends from the steps of Asheville’s City Hall and the Buncombe County Courthouse west to Pack Square. Planned design features include geothermal heating, public restrooms, a restaurant and office space for the conservancy. Construction is expected to take 10 months.
After the motion was approved, Tom Israel, vice president of real estate development for S.B. Coleman Construction Co., told the board that the adjacent Hayes & Hopson Building could function as an interim pavilion and “make the Hayes & Hopson an extension of the park.” Developer Stewart Coleman owns the building, which borders the park on South Market Street.
Coleman was at the center of a controversy last year concerning his purchase from Buncombe County of a sliver of parkland adjacent to the Hayes & Hopson Building and his proposal to demolish the building, uproot an old magnolia tree on the former park property and build condominiums on the site. The developer lost a court battle last year but has appealed the decision.
Meanwhile, work on the rest of the park appears to be on schedule for completion by the end of this year, conservancy members said, with the park opening to the public in sections. The Pack Square portion could be open as early as April, conservancy spokeswoman Donna Clark said.
At the start of the meeting, former Vice Mayor Chris Peterson, who owns the nearby Magnolia’s restaurant, urged the conservancy to open the park as soon as possible.
With a construction scheduled that’s spanned three years and disrupted the heart of downtown, “You’ve hurt us,” said Peterson, adding, “We have to keep downtown alive.”
To read the board’s full motion, go to www.mountainx.com/xpressfiles.