Town of Leesburg officials and business leaders broke ground on the first phase of the Downtown Improvement Project late Monday. The project is expected to beautify parts of Leesburg’s historic downtown and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
The Leesburg Town Council approved Phases I and II of the Downtown Improvement Project in September 2010. Phase 1A consists of improvements to two walkways that run between the town parking garage and King Street, as well as improvements to the alley that runs behind the King Street shops from Loudoun Street to Market Street. The improvements will include better storm drainage facilities, landscaping, streetlights and crosswalks.
Phase 1B of the project consists of improvements to the East End Triangle near Mom’s Apple Pie, where Market and Loudoun Streets converge. Improvements in this area will include removal of the Dominion Power pole at the intersection, a new curb and gutter, a stone retaining wall, landscaping, new brick walkways and decorative lighting.
“This is the start of a number of downtown beautification projects to try to draw more pedestrians to shops and restaurants downtown,” Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd said. “We had received complaints that it was too dark for pedestrians. This will make it brighter.”
Umstattd said that the beautification project at the East End Triangle is important because many visitors enter the historic district from the east, and that is their first impression of the downtown.
“The project will also enhance pedestrian safety,” she said, noting that a new brick sidewalk would run along the north side of Loudoun Street from Harrison Street eastward to Mom’s Apple Pie.
Monday's groundbreaking took place in the alley behind Caulkins Jewelers alongside the town’s parking garage.
Project Manager Scott Parker characterized the alley as “the symbolic center” of the project. He said that the discussion of improving the downtown began many years ago, and that the alley was one of the first areas identified for improvement.
Phases 1A and 1B of the Downtown Improvement Project are expected to be completed early this fall.