Twin Falls removed all the 40-year-old trees from the five-block downtown stretch of Main Avenue during President’s Day weekend as part of plans to rebuild the street and sidewalks.
The new Main Avenue will have new trees, brick accents in the sidewalk, and two designated festival street areas.
The street redevelopment comes as the city transforms the former Banner Furniture store into a new City Hall and builds a Downtown Commons plaza space in front, where the Rogerson Hotel building stood from 1908 until it was torn down in October 2016.
“This is an important part of placemaking,” Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler said. “Placemaking has become an important tool in economic development. This investment will all us to create opportunities for professional services and expanded retail. We hopefully will have created an environment where people are interested in reinvesting in their properties.”
The existing streetscape – streets, sidewalks, and trees – dates from the early 1970s.
“The trees are buckling the sidewalk. The street furniture is outdated,” said Nathan Murray, director of the Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency and the city’s economic development director.
The new Main Avenue is intended as a signature community gathering festival street that is designed for large gatherings.
“This is the urban piece we needed for a while,” Murray said.
A half-block stretch will serve as an extension of Downtown Commons, where the street will alter from asphalt to the same decorative concrete as the 16,000-square-foot plaza. The decorative concrete also will cover Hansen Street, which sits between the future City Hall and Downtown Commons.
A second half-block stretch of festival street will be installed between Shoshone and Gooding streets, a traditional street concert location. The curbs will be flattened at the festival street locations.
“We get more and more requests for events downtown,” Murray said. “We wanted to create a sense of place.”
The sidewalks will be rebuilt, varying from 8 to 10 feet wide, with 4 feet of brick between curb and sidewalk and brick dominating at the street corners, he said.
Pine and maple trees have been removed and will be replaced with a different sort of maple and tulip trees in midblock sections and plum and pear trees at the street corners.
“There was no rhyme or reason to tree spacing,” Murray said. “One block has 60-plus trees, another block has 12.”
The 1970s trees also blocked store frontages and street signage at times. The city removed 163 and will plant between 140 and 150 trees that are evenly spaced and better located for shops and signs, Murray said.
The Main Avenue redevelopment emerged two years ago from a plan to replace the utilities beneath the alley north of Main. The $5 million utility project started in November.
The alley utility work dovetails with the $9.5 million new City Hall project, where construction started in December. The city is also converting the old city call into a new police station. Completion of both is expected in fall.
The Main Avenue and Downtown Commons work is budgeted at $6.5 million with completion also expected in Fall.
The new Main Avenue was designed by Otak Inc. Guho Corp. is the general contractor.