The ongoing transformation of North Platte’s historic downtown “bricks” into the Canteen District will be highlighted twice as the new week begins.
The city’s Quality Growth Fund Citizens Review Committee will hold a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday on whether to recommend City Council approval of $750,000 in QGF funds to finance most of the North Dewey Street streetscape plan.
Committee members also will discuss the need for voters to renew the QGF program this year during their meeting in the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp. board room, 502 S. Dewey St.
In its current form, approved by voters in 2010, a portion of city sales tax proceeds are set aside for economic development projects in any year that total sales tax receipts rise over the previous year.
Tuesday’s QGF meeting will follow a separate pair of meetings Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning on preparations to nominate the downtown area for the National Register of Historic Places.
Nebraska Historic Preservation Office members will answer questions for interested residents at 5:15 p.m. Monday at the Espresso Shop, 419 N. Dewey St., and at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Patty Birge Room at the Neville Center for the Performing Arts, 301 E. Fifth St.
Monday’s and Tuesday’s meetings further highlight a busy year for downtown’s “renovations in progress,” which started with removing North Dewey’s 1970s covered sidewalk awnings in 2018 and has continued with storefront facelifts since.
The City Council set the stage for the coming year Jan. 21 when it awarded a $2.81 million contract to Paulsen Inc. to renovate six blocks of brick streets and update water and sewer lines along the way.
That contract, which ultimately will be funded by city property tax-fueled bonds, will cover the “street and below” part of this year’s downtown work.
The $750,000 request from the Downtown Merchants Association for dedicated city sales tax funds would cover most of the group’s North Dewey “street and above” work going on at the same time.
While Paulsen crews remove and reset bricks, install concrete parking strips and rebuild curbs and sidewalks, they’ll coordinate with the merchants’ project to restore trees, plant greenery and install decorative signs, special lighting and art elements.
City and downtown business leaders hope to finish everything by next Christmas season, tying it all together with a theme honoring North Platte’s famous 1941-46 World War II Canteen at the vanished Union Pacific Depot.
Longtime downtown association board member Alan Hirschfeld said his group will tap its own funds and seek grants to supplement its QGF request.
“I’d be surprised if our total (above-ground) project cost over $850,000” from all sources, Hirschfeld said Friday. “I don’t think it’ll get that high.”
As reconstruction work proceeds in stages this year, members of RDG Planning & Design of Omaha will be refining the city’s National Register nomination for downtown to the U.S. National Park Service.
City leaders hope not only to gain more recognition for the planned Canteen District but also to enable more business owners to access federal and state tax credits to rehabilitate their buildings.
Four downtown buildings already enjoy individual National Register status: the Neville Center, the Hotel Pawnee, the Lincoln County Courthouse and the 1913 U.S. post office building (now the Prairie Arts Center).
This week’s Espresso Shop and Neville Center sessions on the National Register nomination will follow up an initial open house Oct. 28 at City Hall.