Most Gateway plaza work to be completed before first snowfall

Brad Ellingson

Freshly planted trees connected by brick sidewalks amid piles of dirt are a familiar sight at the Gateway alumni center plaza these days.

With winter approaching, University officials look forward to completing most construction on the plaza at Washington Avenue Southeast and Oak Street before the first snow hits the ground, said Tom LaSalle, owner’s representative for the Gateway Corporation.

After the Alumni Association received $3 million from outside contributions, construction began last spring.

University officials anticipate opening the plaza by spring or summer, depending on weather, said Jim Heinz, general manager of the Gateway alumni center.

“Most of major work will be done before winter sets in,” he said.

The idea for the outdoor plaza originated from a need for more green space and a place to hold outside events, LaSalle said.

Recently, the Board of Regents approved plans for two towers that will adorn the plaza.

“The fund raising for those is just beginning,” LaSalle said.

“They’re approved and there is a conceptual design of them, however they are not committed to be built,” he said.

University officials also plan to build a stage for outdoor events. Construction will not start until spring.

“The granite would not get there in time to be done this fall,” LaSalle said.

There was concern the plaza would worsen the University’s parking woes because it’s replacing a large University parking lot.

A ramp was built west of the Gateway alumni center last spring to alleviate parking problems.

University officials said they envision the plaza, with its greenery and park benches, as a welcoming point for University visitors.

“I am very appreciative of people’s patience because I think they’ll be very pleased with the end result,” Heinz said.

 

Brad Ellingson covers construction and facilities and welcomes comments at [email protected]