After approximately six months of construction, Kingman Street in downtown St. Albans reopened to traffic and is now more accessible to pedestrians from adjacent streets.
The road, which connects Federal and Main streets, reopened to traffic and parking on November 12.
Authorities planned to replace the main water line below the street, but also had to replace the main sewer line, said Chip Sawyer, the city’s director of planning and development. He said the installation of a new sewer line delayed the project slightly.
“For the first few months it was a pretty muddy excavation project,” Sawyer said. “Once it was all done, we started to rebuild the street. “
The project is not fully finished, Sawyer noted – among other work, the city plans to do the final paving and pavement marking over several days in May.
“Otherwise,” he said, “Kingman Street is open for business. “
Officials estimate the final construction bill will be around $ 2 million, funded by a mix of state and federal grants as well as tax increase funding. Through this type of funding, also known as TIF, municipalities such as St. Albans designate an area for economic development building improvements and borrow to pay for the works, in the hope that this will lead to increased costs. State and municipal property tax revenues.
Kingman Street is the latest of several street development projects in the city. Main Street, Lake Street, and Federal Street have also undergone improvements over the past decade.
“You can’t convince anyone to invest in your community if you don’t invest in yourself,” said St. Albans City Manager Dominic Cloud. “Streetscape projects are the first step in creating an attractive investment opportunity. “
The city government kept Kingman Street sidewalks open during construction. Still, Sawyer said he knew the project posed challenges for businesses and local residents.
“It was devastating for business,” said Erik Stumpf, owner of Frozen Ogre, a game and toy store on Kingman Street. “Even though the sidewalk was technically open, very, very few people wanted to get around the barricades at the top of Main Street.”
Kim Scouten, co-owner of nearby Tatro’s Soup & Sandwich, estimated daily operations were down 35-40% during construction from what they were before the pandemic. The store started closing two hours earlier due to lack of foot traffic, she said.
Scouten said she wanted the city to do more to advertise the one-man businesses on Kingman Street to people passing Main Street. But now that the project is largely completed, she is confident that business will return to normal, she said.
“It was a fight,” Scouten said. “But it’s all said and done now, and it’s beautiful.”
Sawyer agreed that closing the street during the pandemic was not ideal, but said the city needed to complete the project this year in order to be able to use the grants on time. He said he appreciates the patience residents and business owners have shown this year.
“Now that they’re on the other side, I hope they feel this is all paying off,” Sawyer said.
Cloud said the reconstruction of Kingman Street also comes as a developer plans to transform the old courthouse on the corner of Federal Street into a commercial and residential development. It will likely include eight housing units at market rate, he said.
City Council authorized sell the building to developer Jim Cameron in October. The building has been unoccupied for about 20 years, officials said.
Want to stay up to date with the latest business news? Sign up here to receive a weekly email on all of VTDigger’s reports on local business and economic trends. And check out our new Business section here.