Design work is under way for two future pedestrian alleys off State Street in downtown Commerce.
Main Street Director Natalie Thomas gave the Commerce Downtown Development Authority an update on the High Street and View Street alleys at its Sept. 27 meeting. The two cut-through alleys are set to close to vehicle traffic in October.
The DDA plans to repurpose the alleys for “pocket parks” with lighting and small tables and chairs for outdoor seating. Bollards will be placed at the ends of the alleys to stop vehicle traffic. Thomas said the design team is currently meeting to flesh out the design details.
Downtown leaders have heard at least one person complain about the closures. That person reportedly thought the alley closures were a personal favor for certain businesses. One of the alleys is located next to the future 1818 brewery site, the other is next to the State Street Bicycles.
At the Sept. 27 meeting, downtown business owner Alicia Vargas questioned the DDA about who would benefit from the closures aside from the businesses in that specific area.
Thomas said the alleys will benefit anyone looking for an outdoor place to gather as the State Street area sees an uptick in development. Among the anticipated development projects are: A proposed renovation to the civic center and the parking lot across the street; a pavilion/event space on vacant, city-owned property off View St.; and multiple new businesses planning to locate in the area.
DDA chairman Wes Wilbanks said there were also safety reasons for closing the alleys, citing poor visibility at the stop signs.
Thomas noted similar improvements are planned for the two existing pedestrian alleys in downtown (one near Sanders Furniture, the other near the Commerce Sports Bar). She added that upgrades are also planned for the parking lot behind the building that houses El Parian, Commerce Sports Bar and Grill, etc.
Also at its meeting, the DDA:
•got an update on the Farm to Table event, which raised $3,080 in ticket sales and $2,000 in a donation. The funds from the Farm to Table events go toward a future farmers market pavilion.
•discussed the upcoming Bands, Brews, BBQ and Car Show event, coming up Saturday, Oct. 2, from 12-6 p.m.
•learned Thomas entered downtown Commerce in the America’s Main Streets contest. The winner of the contest will receive a $25,000 grant. At its Sept. 27 meeting, the DDA voted to use the funds (if the city wins the contest) on façade grants for downtown businesses. Those who want to vote for downtown Commerce may do so at mainstreetcontest.com (click ‘Nominees’ and search for ‘Commerce’).
•learned the DDA is seeking members for its organizational and promotions committees.
•discussed the city’s Christmas hometown holiday celebration, set for Dec. 4-5.