While much of the public perception of the Broadway and Grand Intersection Improvements Project has been focused on the demolition of the former Planet Wings restaurant, city officials have long touted the traffic, safety and beautification benefits of overhauling the beleaguered juncture of Broadway, Grand Street, Prince Street and Pine Grove Avenue.
It’s also been billed as the culmination of the Broadway Streetscape Project, which according to a city press release, “optimizes traffic light signalization, and includes new sidewalks, a protected bicycle lane, upgraded crosswalks, amenities such as benches, trees and bioswales, and will include paving of the entire project area.”
In the press release, Mayor Steve Noble called the former Planet Wings a “decades-old eyesore.” Well, that eyesore was razed last week. The building sat on the site of the former
Kingston Post Office, whose 1969 demolition is still remembered with sorrow by local preservationists.
“By fall 2021, entering and traveling down Broadway in the city of Kingston will be an entirely new experience,” said Noble. “From the future gateway at the roundabout, along the Broadway corridor to this new intersection at the YMCA, travelers will enjoy a safe and scenic drive through our beautiful Midtown neighborhood in the near future.”
Planet Wings closed in February 2017 and the property was purchased by the City of Kingston for $450,000 in July 2019 for the express purpose of fulfilling the improvement project, originally estimated to cost $1.2 million, with $750,000 coming from a state grant, and the remaining $425,000 borrowed by the city. Last month, the Common Council authorized borrowing a further $325,000 to complete the project.
“A significant part of Kingston's history is told at this intersection,” said Cahill in the city’s press release. “It was once the center of transportation, where trolleys met trains and where river travelers found their way to the beautiful Catskills. It was also where the local bus station moved people between the Hudson Valley and places all over the Northeast. Mostly, it is known as the site of the former Post Office, a beautiful circular granite edifice that, to many, represented the center of Kingston.”
“Also noteworthy is that this space provides a perfect vista for one of the most beautiful boulevards in Kingston,” Cahill said. “Pine Grove Avenue, also enjoying a Renaissance, was once lined with trees and benches, each dedicated to local World War I veterans. While the redesign of this space will surely provide for a safer intersection, it will also create a small meditation space, to again allow visitors to remember our heroes, where neighbors can reflect on our diverse community and where the weary can find brief rest and respite.”
Cahill said the project will “finally put to rest, a brief time when hamburgers and wacky chicken took precedence over majesty and civic pride.”
Beyond the aesthetic improvements, the project is designed to make the intersection safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians; between 2013-18 there were a reported 29 crashes at the scene, seven of which resulted in injury.
The intersection project, designed with Manhattan-based engineering firm GPI, includes the reconfiguration of the connection point between the four streets, a continuation of bicycle paths, and green space. With the former Planet Wings now demolished, construction on the Broadway and Grand Intersection Improvements Project is expected to begin this month and be completed by this fall.
The city will continue seeking grants to fund the public green spaces at the intersection; design concepts include options for benches, a fountain, ornamental trees, and a plaza with high columns.