Old Town gets a fresh face, expanded parking
Big improvements on are the horizon for Old Town. The new plaza will be large enough to hold community events and will feature a large lawn, stage, pedestrian promenade, a playground and seating.
“The entire plaza project is a culmination of our Old Town plan update we did a couple of years ago,” said Drew Pennywell, director and coordinator of tourism for the city of Burleson and assistant to the city manager. “The idea of this plaza has been floated around for many years.”
As Old Town grew and more destination restaurants arrived, city officials knew the need to expand was imminent.
“We brought in the congress of new urbanization” Pennywell said. “They came down for a few days and met with stakeholders and city staff, business owners and residents. That’s when the idea grew into what the plaza might be and where it might sit.”
The first phase of construction will begin at the end of the first quarter in 2018. City officials hope to have the plaza completely open, including the four-story mixed use building, by May, 2019.
“Ellison, between Warren and Wilson, will be completely closed to traffic,” Pennywell said. “It will become the pedestrian promenade. The historic depot will still be there and the visitors center and volunteers can still host tours. There will also be two smaller pavilions on the west side so we can have smaller events, or, people can rent them for birthday parties. The courtyard is a much smaller and intimate space.”
The current plan calls for the historic trolly cars to stay where they are, while also becoming ADA accessible. A new child-friendly train will also be built for kids to play.
“The trolly cars will be under an overhang,” Pennywell said. “They are an integral part of the city and we want to utilize them even more. While the trains are beautiful, they are more of a museum piece. Kids can’t help but want to play with the trains, so we are building a smaller, interactive train that will mimic the trolleys, but kids can play in them. Currently, neither trolly is ADA accessible and we will be building ramp access (for wheelchairs).”
Moreover, while parking has been a concern, Old Town will actually gain an additional 70 parking spaces, Pennywell said.
“Parallel to this plan, we are working on a parking improvement plan,” Pennywell said. “There will be another 20 spots available on North Main, as well as a protected pedestrian crossing that gets you to Main Street. In all, we will gain another 70 parking spots and make up the parking spaces we have lost. The majority are a one-to-two minute walk to Old Town.”
Pennywell added that this could not have been possible without input from the public.
“We are really excited about all of the plans,” he said. “We want the residents of Burleson to be involved with this project.”
Keep up with the improvements being made to Old Town by visiting http://tx-burlesoned.civicplus.com/135/Old-Town-Burleson.