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Huntington faced with prioritizing enhancement ideas for 4th Avenue

Jun. 04, 2008 @ 11:23 PM

HUNTINGTON -- While the City of Huntington has two major construction projects planned to improve the Old Main Corridor, city officials have a number of smaller design elements they plan to integrate eventually into 4th Avenue from Hal Greer Boulevard to 6th Street.

Charles Holley, Huntington's director of planning and development, said the ideas came from three public meetings over the last year with professional architects, Marshall University personnel, 4th Avenue business and property owners and residents.

Holley said the city has received funding for and will begin construction on two projects

Click here for the Old Main Corridor Project: Fourth Avenue Streetscape Master Plan.
on 4th Avenue. One will be between 8th and 10th Streets and is now scheduled to be done by year's end. The other is between 14th Street and Hal Greer Boulevard and is expected to start next spring.

Holley said the idea to connect the university to the downtown through 4th Avenue was Mayor David Felinton's idea when he first took office.

"Now that the plans are coming together, you can really visualize what the corridor will look like," Felinton said.

Though the city would like to implement all of the concepts developed from the meetings, Holley said officials will first have to prioritize the projects and determine the timeline and costs. While the city is unsure they will implement all of the elements, Holley said they are considering all of the ones discussed at the meetings.

The architects involved with the Old Main Corridor project suggested archways across the street. Phoebe Patton Randolph, with the American Institute of Architects' West Virginia Chapter's Livable Communities Committee, said the archways could be fitted with exposed lights to better illuminate the road and sidewalks, thus taking care of security and lighting issues.

While the city can also hang banners and notify the public of upcoming events, Randolph said the archways bring the scale of the street down to the human scale. Instead of feeling overpowered by the grand scale of the area, Randolph said the archways enclose the streets and make the area more inviting.

Though their implementation is not included in the two scheduled city projects, Holley said the city would like to mesh Marshall University's architecture with the rest of 4th Avenue. This can be achieved, he said, by bordering vacant and parking lots with brick-and-iron fences similar to those on Marshall's campus.

"There's a real sense of divide between the Marshall University campus and the Old Main Corridor. We need to remove that divide," Holley said. "Right now, when you leave Marshal University, you really leave Marshall University."

"There needs to be a meshing between the corridor and Marshall," Randolph said. "We want to promote the historic corridor, but that doesn't exclude the inclusion of modern design and architecture."

Holley said the city is also considering raising, texturing and coloring a new center, turning-lane on 4th Avenue. This, he said, will force people to slow down while turning onto side streets. Parallel parking will remain on 4th Avenue, but the city plans to have angled parking for several of the side streets along the corridor.

The safe, pedestrian-friendly environment created by the improvements, he said, will foster development along the corridor.

City officials and design experts stressed the importance of upper-story development along 4th Avenue. Randolph said the spaces above many of the shops are perfect opportunities for residential and commercial spaces.

Holley said the city also is planning to implement public art. The city has already begun publicly advertising for artists to become involved in the project from 8th to 10th streets on 4th Avenue. Sidewalk paintings, glass blocks in the sidewalks and statues are among the elements being considered.

The projects between 14th Street and Hal Greer Boulevard and 8th and 10th streets' scheduled projects include improvements to the "hardscape" and landscape and are meant to draw more people down 4th Avenue from Marshall University to the downtown. Holley said the projects will serve as a model for the improvements to be made for the rest of the corridor.

Holley said the 8th Street project is expected to cost about $800,000, which will be covered under several grants. Holley said the city has raised $850,000 from the Community Development Block Grant, Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone and Tax-Increment Financing proceeds.

The construction between 14th Street and Hal Greer Boulevard will cost about $500,000, he said. Most of the money, $340,000, comes from the state's Transportation Enhancement Program along with an additional $100,000 from a Community Development Block Grant.

The city is also awaiting approval for a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement grant application for continuing the Old Main Corridor construction between 12th and 14th streets.

These are projects planned within the next year along 4th Avenue:

From 8th to 10th streets

  • What: Widening and repairing sidewalks, installing a surveillance system with wireless Internet capabilities, increased lighting and creating an outdoor plaza.
  • Cost: About $800,000, which will be covered under several grants.
  • Schedule: To start in August and be done by year's end.
  • From 14th Street to Hal Greer Boulevard

  • What: Building one or two bike lanes, widening the sidewalks to 12 feet, installing a surveillance system with wireless Internet capabilities and increased lighting. The city is still working on the details of the project.
  • Cost: About $500,000. Most of the money, $340,000, comes from the state's Transportation Enhancement Program along with an additional $100,000 from a Community Development Block Grant.
  • Schedule: To start next spring.

SOURCE: Charles Holley, Huntington's director of development and planning.

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