Heart of downtown

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Grand Junction project takes shape with new design plans

The Grand Junction open-space project for downtown Westfield started in 2007 and the city began its financial investment in buying properties in 2011 on a voluntary process. Design discussions were held in 2013 and Land Collective was selected as the lead design group on April 1.

Now the project, a 120-acre programmable space for all seasons south of Jersey Street between Mill and South Union streets, is taking another major step as new plans have been unveiled following public input this summer.

“We have the best natural terrain in Hamilton County in the downtown area, I feel, and we haven’t taken advantage of that,” Westfield City Council President Jim Ake said.

Land Collective, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture and urban design group, has a diverse client list, including universities, state parks and historic landscapes. Notable projects include Washington D.C.’s Canal Park, California Memorial Stadium at the University of California-Berkeley and Eskenazi Hospital, which opened last year in Indianapolis.

“David Rubin (Land Collective principal) and his group have a high level of experience,” Westfield Deputy Mayor Todd Burtron said. “It is a one-of-a-kind project with natural amenities of trail connections and waterways. We had to find the right professional … Westfield deserves to have a defined downtown that’s unique.”

Since the May 28 input meeting, planners have been determining what elements the community wants and the best use of the space.

“A successful space is one that’s well-attended,” said Rubin. “Land Collective aspires to render Grand Junction as an extraordinary venue filled with art, architecture, community and life. We have worked with the city to gather some of the most extraordinary talent across design disciplines, in the hope that the future park will continuously heighten one’s experience, no matter when one engages in it.”

Rubin previously said the park’s goal is to be used 365 days a year and in all seasons.

“Not that everything has to take place in the parks, but poetry readings to band concerts and ice skating to playing in the fountain. It will be flexible and adaptable,” he said. “People will come here because they know it is here. Other people will covet it. We have high aspirations but I think we can achieve it.”

Added Burtron, “We have a high sensitivity to ensuring and preserving the history of downtown and (Rubin’s) very cognizant to preserving downtown Westfield.”

Burtron said the project now enters the construction documentation, bidding and then construction phases.

“We’ll move into construction design, that influences price,” he said, adding the total amount will be known next year once construction designs are completed. Officials said once better estimations of costs are known, officials will then have to determine if the project will be built all at once or in phases.

“The finance committee needs to wrestle with the issues,” Ake said. “We need to understand how the project fits together, then determine the financing of the project.”

Burtron said the city has a few options to fund the yet unknown cost, including using TIF funds, cash on hand or a combination. The city also is open to the idea of selling naming rights for pieces within the park.

“It’s an infrastructure piece,” he said, implying utility sale proceeds could be used if approved by the council. “Public space is the purest of forms. There is no greater use of a public dollar than public space. The dollar is spent for all citizens to use.”

Burtron said the Mill Street extension, which sets the south boundary of the park with Union Street, will begin in 2016.

“Demolition would be done in December through February,” he said.

The economic impact of Grand Junction is already being seen as plans progress with the opening of Grand Junction Brewing Co., Rail Epicurean Market and Greek’s Pizza this year.

“What we’re finding out is there is a movement just by the conversations, what little construction is going on there,” Burtron said. “You see that take on a very positive momentum and the private sector comes forward and develops a unique, eclectic downtown.”

The project

Grand Junction will be the focal point and the new heart of downtown Westfield. The new designs include several familiar features like pavilions, a stage, a jet water feature, a great lawn space, trail connections, pedestrian bridges, amphitheater, orchards and bike parking. New additions include several waterway overlooks, a pavilion water feature, stepping stones and a boardwalk platform. The architecture concept involves a square broken into four uneven pieces, with each placed in a different area of the park. Officials said the pieces will be used as indoor and outdoor features and may include restrooms, dining, storage and lockers and amenities for the park. Grand Junction also will be the connecting point of the Anna Kendall and Midland Trace trails, allowing access to Westfield’s complete trail system and other points of interest throughout the community. Pedestrian-friendly streets will invite visitors and residents alike to explore the park and plaza and area restaurants and shops.

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