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Inverness poised for big makeover

Construction on the $825,000 project should start in January. Look for new water lines, roads, sidewalks and more.

By BRIDGET HALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2000


INVERNESS -- The money and time line are in place for the downtown renovation project, with construction set to start in January on $825,000 of infrastructure and aesthetic improvements.

The revitalization project will upgrade the downtown area from the ground up, with plans to install new water and sewer lines, roads, sidewalks, signs, trees and lighting.

Preliminary plans include decorative touches, such as brick lining along sidewalks and crosswalks, to enhance the area's historical feel.

"Basically we're trying to make (downtown) more pedestrian-friendly and more attractive," city development services director Bill Wiley said.

Most of the project is covered by a $600,000 grant from the state, which City Council members formally accepted at their meeting Tuesday night. The grant requires a local match of $225,000.

"We've all worked long and hard for many years to get this," City Manager Frank DiGiovanni said.

Engineers will survey the downtown area next month and start designing the project. The time line calls for an initial presentation to the council May 24, and planners will meet with merchants and local officials throughout the summer as they finalize the design.

The design should be complete by the end of September, with requests for bids going out Oct. 25. A contractor will be chosen in December and will start renovations Jan. 4.

"Originally the project was slated to start in November, but we held it off until January because we didn't want to disrupt the downtown area during the holidays," Wiley said.

The contractor will have 120 days to complete the project, as long as bad weather does not delay it, DiGiovanni said.

The city will make sure residents can still get into the downtown shops, although DiGiovanni said people would have to be patient with the minor inconveniences that construction brings.

"The key is, when the dust settles, it ought to be nice," he said.

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