City of Nanaimo hears redevelopment ideas for Diana Krall Plaza – Nanaimo News Bulletin

“Animation” is the keyword used by an urban designer to describe proposals to revitalize Diana Krall Plaza in downtown Nanaimo.

Dave Witty, Senior Researcher in the Planning Program at the University of Vancouver Island, presented a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the plaza to the City of Nanaimo Governance and Priorities Committee on Monday, October 25. The purpose of the presentation was to recommend that the city consider the Diana Krall Plaza Redevelopment Plan as part of the discussions on the revitalization of Commercial Street. Witty made the proposal to redesign the plaza pro bono, and students from VIU’s urban planning program also contributed to the plan’s work.

Witty said Nanaimo jazz musician Diana Krall, named after the square, should better reflect the artist’s international profile, and the square’s renovations should serve to liven up the space.

“I think the word for us is ‘animation’ and the lack of it,” Witty said, and cited examples of public spaces around the world that attract people.

“These are all well animated… and, surely, when we take a look at Diana Krall Plaza, not if… It needs to be more fully connected to the city center and its fundamentals,” said Witty.

The shape of the square creates some challenges, but its access points, location, and surrounding shops and amenities also offer opportunities. The apparent isolation of the square, in large part because the lines of sight are blocked and the use of space is very limited.

“When you go through a summer day, it’s empty,” Witty said. “The other thing you notice is he’s isolated. There are stairwells around, it’s hidden, people who are new to the city have no idea that there is a place there.

Witty said ties to the square, such as the new Marriott hotel, the waterfront, the Coast Bastion Hotel and Commercial Street, are critical to its success.

“It’s about recognizing that Diana Krall Plaza will only work if we make something of it, one, but connect it beyond its own site,” Witty said. “If there is an island on its own, it won’t do what you need.” “

The esplanade redevelopment plan proposes to carry out improvements in three phases. Phase 1 could begin as early as next year and cover Commercial and Wharf streets, which would include redefining the entrance to the square and creating a “welcoming and comfortable meeting place for residents and visitors. “and an interactive site that” clearly supports Diana Krall’s celebration.

Phase 2 would consist of works in the center of the square and at the entrance near the Coast Bastion Hotel to create a flexible entertainment space where events could take place all year round with a small stage and an entertainment room. . The proposal also provides for entertainment areas near the Museum Way entrance to the square with a cafe near the library.

The third phase calls for the closure of Wharf Street as a pedestrian space, with potentially ethnic meals at street level. The unused offices on the second floor of the Coastal Community Credit Union building could be converted into a restaurant and retail space. Other ideas are an elevated walkway over Front Street to connect the plaza to the Harbourfront walkway, a fountain for children to play at the entrance to Wharf Street, and space for food trucks in a existing parking lot at the intersection of Wharf Street and Adam Grant Horne Lane.

Covered seating and bike racks are suggested in the plan, along with landscaping added throughout the plaza.

Daniel Appell, a former Nanaimo Arts Council executive and architectural assistant, spoke as a delegation to the committee and argued that Diana Krall Plaza was unnecessary and that the proposed changes would only create competition and driving people away from already struggling Commercial Street businesses. . The entrance to the commercial street of the square is expected to face retail businesses with residential units behind, he said.

“Basically the place, the reason it’s empty, is because it’s not needed,” Appell said. “It’s something to consider. I know it’s a weird way to think of it, but sometimes looking at it from a different perspective really helps.

The plan proposals will be presented to the public along with the general plans for the revitalization of Commercial Street.

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Architecture Municipal Government Planning

Proposals to draw people to Diana Krall Plaza call for closing Wharf Street to pedestrians and adding ethnic restaurants, food trucks, an overhead walkway connecting the square to the Harbourfront Walkway and other features. (Image RéEnvision Diana Krall Plaza)

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