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Downtown canopies: Council hears general optionsTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
A conceptual look at the corner of Fifth and Dewey, with simple red canvas awnings.

The North Platte city council will have to decide one day if the canopies over the Dewey St. sidewalks will be torn down and replaced with canvas awnings – the look and features of nearly 100 years ago.

The council faces two decisions – to repair the canopies or remove them, Chamber and DevCo vice president Megan McGown said after a March 21 work session with the city council.

McGown does not have firm costs of either option yet, although city manager Jim Hawks has said $250,000 might not be enough to repair and maintain the existing canopies.

If the canopies are torn down, it will lead to bigger expenses, involving some repairs to the adjoining street. And it would be an opportune time to overhaul the brick streets themselves, which are more than 100 years old, Hawks suggested.

For the past 13 months, McGown has been working with consultant Scott Day to change the exterior look of five square blocks of the downtown area – about 50 buildings in all.

But the immediate focus is coming down to the most challenging aspect, on the busiest street – Dewey St.

McGown said the consultant has talked to building owners to see who wants to keep the existing canopies and who doesn’t, with a mixed response, although more of them are leaning toward removal, she said.

She said a couple of building owners could not be reached, including Johnny Thai, who remodeled a building a few years ago that closed up a few months later.

McGown said the next step is to come up with some estimated costs of the options and ask the council to make a decision.

She said the building owners have received some free conceptual designs, but would pay for the replacement awnings.

She said the North Platte historical preservation commission might be able to obtain some grant money to help fund the project, but she has no details yet.

The existing awnings were bulit in the early 1970s, during a time of urban renewal. Old buildings between Sixth and Front streets were demolished and the Parkade Plaza shopping strip was built in their place.

A half-dozen downtown buildings between Fifth and Sixth on Dewey were also demolished and rebuilt. At about the same time, the shopping mall was built a mile south, near Philip and Dewey.

The heavy-duty canopies above the downtown sidewalks were built for the convenience of shoppers, to help downtown businesses compete with the climate controlled indoor mall. The canopies were paid through the city, likely with federal funds, according to information presented at previous city council meetings.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/27/2017
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