RockBridge Hires Local Architect for Congress Square Proposal to Build Ballroom; To Be Addressed at 9/12/12 Meeting Again

Herb Adams: “The Ball is Still in the Air and it Hasn’t Come Down Yet.”

Some of the Public Attending RockBridge Meeting.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,193)

“Since there wasn’t a lot of movement in trying to find a compromise Greg Mitchell had discussions with Adam Valente,” said councilor Nick Mavodones at yesterday’s Housing & Community Development Committee meeting. (“HCDC”) Valente, of RockBridge, would like to continue discussions with the city about building a ballroom on the Congress Square Plaza that abuts the Eastland Hotel on Congress Street. RockBridge bought the historic Eastland but not the property on which the park is located next to it. RockBridge is in the process of rennovating the Eastland into a Westin Hotel – in the middle of the downtown Arts District.

Mavodones, chair of the HCDC, was referring to the recent meeting of the city’s Congress Square Redesign Study Group (“CSRGG”) in which its members soundly rejected any more discussions with the company because it had no architectural plans to show the task force and because it failed to make a financial commitment to improve what would remain of the public park on which it would be building.

Chair Mavodones explained to the thirty or so attending the meeting in a small city hall conference room that no decision was to be made at the meeting and no public comment would be heard either. The Park was built 32 years ago to attract tourists and hotel guests. Rather it has become a hangout for “street people” because of its proximity to social service agencies among other reasons.

Following the meeting, historian and politician Herb Adams stated: “The Committee was established to discuss improvements to the Square. At the last moment, a proposal introduced by RockBridge has taken the discussion in a different direction.”

According to Mitchell, the city’s economic developer director, the architects plans probably would be ready for the August 22nd meeting. However, that is already a full agenda and so it tentatively has been set for the Committee’s September 12th meeting; public comment will be taken at that meeting. The meeting may be held in the city council chambers as well to accommodate what could be a large audience. The matter could be on the city council agenda for September 22, 2012.

For more background information, please see Post # 1,189, dated 8/2/12 herein.