The Pack Square Conservancy got some good news last week: A long-awaited $7.5 million contract on the next phase of construction of Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville will likely be finalized this week.
Once the deal with Valley Crest Landscape Design is inked, construction should be in full gear by early to mid-June, according to Mark Durbin, the owner’s representative for the Pack Square Conservancy. Durbin said the contract was in the process of being updated.
The next construction phase will be a milestone in a project that has been marked by setbacks and rising costs, as well as controversy over design elements. With infrastructure work complete, but little visible progress over the past couple of years, conservancy members and downtown businesses are anxious for progress.
The upcoming construction will include work on three water features, performance stages and more landscaping. This phase of work does not include construction of a planned pavilion, a 4,200-square-foot building to be built in the “mid-park” area.
The Pack Square Conservancy was formed in 2000 by an agreement with Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. The conservancy was given the authority for overseeing the planning, design, fundraising and construction of the 6.5-acre park.
The board of local leaders broke ground at the site in 2005 and had projected that work would be finished in 2007. The latest estimate is for construction to be complete in 2009. Last year, the conservancy said the project was expected to cost $17.5 million. At the conservancy’s meeting last Wednesday, the board said the total budget for the project was $20 million. Board Chairwoman Carol King said the conservancy had $525,000 in the bank, had spent $6.3 million to date and had $8.5 million in “pledges receivable.”
At the meeting, the board noted that Asheville City Council planned to take up the issue of a controversial condominium project proposed along the park’s border on June 10. Council had originally planned to hear the issue May 27. The conservancy has publicly opposed developer Stewart Coleman‘s planned 11-story Parkside condo project.
Conservancy board members also expressed concern about the construction’s impact on local businesses in the area. Windows on the Park, an event venue on the ground floor of the Biltmore building adjacent to the park, is hosting a construction update at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 15. Conservancy board members will be on hand to offer details and answer questions about the upcoming construction.