A downtown plaza long envisioned by Logan Mayor Holly Daines has cleared all governmental hurdles, and the demolition of two Main Street buildings to make way for the multipurpose public space is expected to begin this winter.
“I’m pretty excited after almost three and a half years of working towards this,” Daines said this week. “The plaza will be a wonderful addition to our historic downtown and will be a community gathering place that creates action downtown again.”
Funding for the bulk of the project was authorized in early March by the Logan Municipal Council, acting as the Logan Redevelopment Agency. Then last week, the plan gained unanimous approval from the last two regulatory bodies involved: the Logan Historic Preservation Committee on Monday and the Logan Planning Commission on Thursday.
The plaza — featuring a performance stage, a skating rink and possibly a summer splash pad — will require demolition of the former Emporium and Poco Loco buildings across from the Logan Tabernacle. The buildings were purchased by Logan in 2016 as part of an ill-fated plan to relocate the Logan Library.
“It will be a process,” Daines said about what’s been termed the Cache Plaza. “Even though everything’s approved, now we start in construction drawings. By the time we go through that and the bid process, we anticipate that demolition of the buildings will take place over the winter, and then construction will start next spring. The goal is to open the plaza with the skating rink by Christmas of 2022.”
The city plans to issue a press statement and video about the project this week. In advance of that, Daines spoke to The Herald Journal about the final approvals and the changes made to her original proposal put forth in 2017.
The initial plan called for an apartment development and parking terrace, but these elements were scrapped due to opposition from some prominent downtown property owners and other residents. Another blow came in December 2019 when the Historic Preservation Committee rejected the demolition of the Emporium and three other buildings that some members considered worth saving.
The amended plan, which spares and enhances two of the buildings, drew no opposition during last week’s Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Committee reviews.
“We did not have anyone at either of those two meetings come speak against, but we’ve pivoted, we’ve compromised,” Daines said. “I loved the first version with the housing and the parking terrace. That didn’t work out, but the plaza will be a wonderful addition.”
In March, the Logan Municipal Council appropriated $4.35 million in RDA money for demolition of the Emporium and Poco Loco buildings, plus another $1.58 million to renovate the facades of two city-owned buildings just south of there, including the building known as Plaza 45. It is hoped the city can then use money from the sale of these buildings to offset costs for the plaza.
The plaza, along with last year’s reworking of Center Street, are the first of several moves Daines hopes will lead to revitalization of downtown Logan.