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Kingman Street Rebuild Nearly Finished in Downtown St. Albans

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Renovations to Kingman Street in St. Albans include wider sidewalks and new street lamps, shown here on Dec. 2, 2021. Photo by Shaun Robinson/VTDigger

After about six months of construction, Kingman Street in downtown St. Albans has reopened to traffic and is now more accessible to pedestrians from adjoining streets.

The road, which runs between Federal and Main streets, reopened for traffic and parking Nov. 12. Changes in the streetscape include wider sidewalks, new trees and streetlights, new storm drains and a crosswalk in the middle of the block.

Officials planned to replace the water main under the street but ended up needing to replace the sewer main as well, said Chip Sawyer, the city’s director of planning and development. He said installing a new sewer line slightly delayed the project.

“For the first few months, it was a pretty muddy excavation project,” Sawyer said. “Once we had that all wrapped up, then we started rebuilding the street.”

The project isn’t totally finished, Sawyer noted — among other work, the city plans to do final paving and line-striping on the roadway over several days in May. 

“Otherwise,” he said, “Kingman Street is open for business.”

Officials estimate the final bill for construction will be about $2 million, funded through a mix of state and federal grants as well as tax increment financing. Through this type of financing, also known as TIF, municipalities such as St. Albans designate an area for economic development construction improvements and borrow to pay for the work, on the expectation it will result in increased state and municipal property tax revenues.

A sign at the corner of Main Street and Kingman Street in St. Albans advertises that The Frozen Ogre, a game and toy shop, is open for business after renovations to Kingman Street were largely finished. Photo by Shaun Robinson/VTDigger

Kingman Street is the latest of several streetscaping projects in the city. Main Street, Lake Street and Federal Street also have gone through improvements in the past decade.

“You can’t get anybody to invest in your community if you’re not investing in yourselves,” said St. Albans City Manager Dominic Cloud. “The streetscape projects are the first leg of creating an attractive investment opportunity.”

The city government kept Kingman Street’s sidewalks open during construction. Still, Sawyer said he knows the project has posed challenges for the local businesses and residents.

“It was devastating to business,” said Erik Stumpf, who owns the Frozen Ogre, a game and toy store on Kingman Street. “Even though the sidewalk was technically open, very, very few people wanted to come around the barricades at the top of Main Street.”

Kim Scouten, co-owner of nearby Tatro’s Soup & Sandwich, estimated daily business was down 35% to 40% during construction compared to what it was pre-pandemic. The shop started closing two hours earlier because of the lack of foot traffic, she said. 

Scouten said she wishes the city had done more to advertise individual Kingman Street businesses to the people passing by on Main Street. But now that the project is mostly completed, she’s confident business will return to normal, she said. 

“It was a struggle,” Scouten said. “But it’s all said and done now, and it looks beautiful.”

Sawyer agreed that closing the street during the pandemic was not ideal, but said the city needed to do the project this year so it could use up grant funding in time. He said he appreciates the patience that residents and business owners have had this year.

“Now that they’re on the other side, I hope that they feel like it’s all paying off,” Sawyer said.

Cloud said Kingman Street’s reconstruction also comes as a developer is planning to turn the old courthouse on the corner with Federal Street into a commercial and residential development. It likely will include eight market-rate housing units, he said.

The city council authorized selling the building to the developer, Jim Cameron, in October. The building has been vacant for about 20 years, officials said.

Kingman Street in St. Albans has reopened after about six months of construction.
Photo by Shaun Robinson/VTDigger

Read the story on VTDigger here: Kingman Street rebuild nearly finished in downtown St. Albans.

Original Post: vtdigger.org

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