Top 10: Riverfront Renaissance completed in November
Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.
After five of years hard work, the Riverfront Renaissance project was completed in November 2018.
"It's time that we go back to focusing on our roots as a rivertown. It's who we are," Mayor Paul Hicks said of the project's completion. "It's great to be able to bring people down to the river for concerts, Rivertown Days and events like that during the summer."
The Riverfront Renaissance was a three-phase plan to make improvements downtown and in parks along the riverfront.
The first phase, which officially started the project in 2014, focused on improvements to roads and sidewalks on Ramsey and Tyler streets, the Veterans Memorial and new signage around downtown for better wayfinding in the area.
The next phase, started in 2015, focused on revitalizing Levee Park.
"Everything you see in Levee Park now was a part of this phase," Public Works Director Nick Egger said. This included the labyrinth, skating rink, permanent restroom, the musical playground and the Rotary Pavilion. The phase also included trail improvements along the river.
Oliver's Grove was next on the list of improvements, along with decorative archways to the riverfront. The sidewalk corners were also bumped out during this stage of the process.
The project took a break in 2017 due to some reconfiguration that needed to be done in the plans. Construction picked up again in 2018, starting the beginning of the end.
Phase three put the finishing touches on the downtown area and riverfront by moving some electrical and other service wires underground. The alleyway that was worked on stretches from the Levee Park parking lot to the parking lot that sits underneath the Hastings bridge.
Not only were service wires moved underground. The area also received improved lighting and drainage, dumpster enclosures and new concrete pavement.
"The city had a vision to develop something that would attract tourism, as well as local residents, to make more use of the river," Egger said. "It's done all of that and then some. It's a completely different energy down here now, and it's been really positive."