Amarillo, TX - Four blocks of downtown Amarillo are turning into construction zones as the downtown catalyst projects begin.
For the next three weeks, new parts of Buchanan Street will be shut down between 6th and 10th as the city readies for new development.
"We're replacing an old storm sewer with a newer, larger diameter storm sewer," said city manager Jarrett Atkinson. "That started on 2nd and will run all the way up to 8th."
Parts of Buchanan will also be blocked off for construction of the new Xcel Energy headquarters. The seven-story building is set to open in March of 2017.
A block over is the downtown parking garage, which is a bit behind, but still moving forward. "Right now we anticipate putting the garage out for bids sometime around the first of December," said Atkinson. "That will take us to a contract award sometime in January, with construction beginning very quickly there after."
The convention center hotel next door will have an earlier construction start. The city and the hotelier plan on closing on all documents and finances the first week of October and construction can begin right after. "Of course we will not turn that site over until the financing has closed and those conditions are satisfied. That's to protect us. That's to be sure that once they start, everything is in hand and we end with a full hotel," said Atkinson.
In another move to protect the city, Atkinson said they have filed a suit to protect them from creditors who are after money the city still owes former master developer Wallace Bajjali. "It's called an interpleader suit and it's really for someone in our position, yes this is owed, you tender that amount to the court. Then any competing entities that think they are due part of that dollar go the court and the court makes that determination. Obviously we're not issuing a payment unless we know we're issuing it to the right party."
The city owes Wallace Bajjali $177,000 for work the developer completed before they unexpectedly closed shop and disappeared back in January.
One area where dirt isn't moving downtown is the site of the proposed multi-purpose event venue. The city is waiting until the November election to see if voters want a ballpark.