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Broad Street Gets Cash for Projects

After years spent clamoring over how to improve Broad Street, steps and money are now in place to make the projects happen.

First, after a year spent negotiating, the Broad Street Community Development Authority has taken steps to issue $90 million in high-yield, tax-exempt bonds. The CDA works as a private group of Broad Street investors and property owners to address and pay for infrastructure needs. Those cover everything from parking to streetscaping to utilities to demolition of the 6th Street Marketplace. The city recently got a commitment from developer Gary Beller and Chicago-based ECI Investment Advisors — whom the city contracted to tear down the market — to approve and participate in the bond issuance.

Second, on Nov. 15, plans will be unveiled for the new $80-million federal courthouse that will encompass the entire 700 block of East Broad Street. Project architect Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the school of architecture at Yale University, will discuss the courthouse in a special conference. Stern is known for his projects at the University of Virginia.

Third, within the next 30 days renovation to the Marriott Hotel will begin. The cost: $12 million.

Lastly, the convention center, with its $165-million price tag — half paid for by the city, half by surrounding counties — will be completed within the first part of 2003.

Two other projects are still in the works: the plan to convert the long-vacant Miller & Rhoads building to hotel or residential space and the plan for the collaborative performing arts center still are in the process of locking in financing.

Funding for the performing arts center — the plan calls for $100 million — lags behind. But the proposed $30 million in funding for the Miller & Rhoads project is expected by the first of the year, officials say.

"Years and years of talk are finally coming to fruition," Woodward says. "It's more than city planners playing 'spin city.'At last there are tangible signs of progress. Something is happening."

Gaskin adds: "Four of the six dominoes are falling." — Brandon Walters

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