Construction To Begin On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza Downtown
Downtown is going to get a facelift on Fraser Street soon.
The Borough of State College recently announced the upcoming construction of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza to replace the current Fraser Street Plaza. The Plaza will be renovated as part of a larger construction project with the Fraser Street Parking Garage at 131 S. Fraser Street.
However, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza is much more than a side project. Councilor Peter Morris proposed the idea, and the Council adopted a resolution to rename the Plaza in April of 2012. As stated by the resolution, “Dr. King’s leadership helped inspire Pennsylvanians to participate in the Civil Rights movement through his commitment to extending first amendment rights to all people, expressed in speaking engagements at universities throughout Pennsylvania.” As part of his campaign for voting privileges in Selma, Alabama, Dr. King addressed more than 9,000 people at Penn State’s Rec Hall on January 21, 1965.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza is expected to begin construction in just a few weeks, but not without the input of the State College community. “The Borough does not have a specific design outcome in mind, but rather the Borough is opening the process to the community so that final design is a reflection on how the community sees this space and how it can best be used,” Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said. Presently, the Plaza offers casual benches for pedestrians and serves as an entrance to several organizations and businesses. The renovation plan currently includes the addition of public art, trees, lighting, and a canopy.
The community will have the opportunity to share its opinion on what it would like to see present at the new Plaza at an open house on Wednesday, March 2. An afternoon session will be held from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and a second session will be held that evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., both in the Board Room of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County at the Fraser Street Garage. Walker Parking Consultants as well as Derck & Edson Associates, LLP, the design teams for the project, will be present at the open house to hear which design elements the public believes should be incorporated into the final plan.
“This is a great public space in the heart of Downtown State College,” Fountaine explained. “The project will honor Dr. King and provide a new space that the community can enjoy for many years.” The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza is expected to open this fall along with the opening of the Fraser Centre in October.