On Thursday, the group presented their ideas for a new grocery store, fire station, library and City Hall to several community leaders. They received feedback on the designs and are expected to make their final presentations to the Long Term Recovery Committee and the public later this summer.
The university’s construction and design students have worked with a number of other cities, including Chattanooga and New Orleans.
Assistant professor Josh Emig said tackling a project like the rebuilding effort in Cordova provides invaluable experience as the students prepare for their upcoming graduation.
“Although we understand that these buildings probably won’t get built exactly as the students design them, we benefit so much when a city like Cordova invites us in because otherwise we work in a vacuum,” Emig said. “At the same time, we hope to present something that will get people thinking and could potentially have a real impact in the community down the road.”
Beth Stukes, chairman of Cordova’s Long Term Recovery Committee, said she gained valuable information from the presentations, including suggestions for building materials and the cost effectiveness of various designs.
She added that the images of what the future Cordova could look like also served as an important motivation tool.
“Participation in something like this provides the encouragement and the hope that we all need to keep moving forward. It’s pictures of possibilities,” Stukes said.
Among the suggestions from Thursday’s design presentations:
•A grocery store that would provide access to healthy food, improve the city’s tax base and feature a community-focused design.
The site selected for the store is on Burlington Avenue where Gilbert’s Hardware once stood.
The students recommended an 8,000 square foot building with 40 parking spots and a green space that would be available for public use. They thought the store should include a pharmacy as well as a butcher, have reduced storage space in order to increase the size of the sales floor and predominantly offer foods that are available locally.
•A fire station that would be located across from the new baseball fields at the Old Park unless a more suitable site can be found.
The students noted that funding a new fire station was a significant obstacle since sitework alone would cost more than the department received through insurance and few grants are available at the state or federal level.
As a result, the group recommended building the station in phases. The first would include only a bay area. Offices, a training space and a lobby that could also include a tornado memorial would be constructed in the second phase.
The final addition to the station would include sleeping quarters and other areas necessary to run a full-time station if the community required one at that time.
The facility would include more than 11,000 square feet once all phases are completed.
•A library that would be located in the middle of Main Street.
The group drew up plans for both a one-story and a two-story structure. The library would be built to accomodate up to 100 people and include conference rooms as well as a digital media space.
The students also created a passageway near the library that would connect the ball fields to Main Street and the proposed new grocery store on the other side of town.
•A City Hall on the corner of Main Street that would serve as a catalyst for the overall rebuilding effort.
The students said they identified a “chicken and egg” problem during their research. Both businesses and people are needed to help the city grow, but it is difficult to recruit one without the other.
The group recommended a two-story structure that would house city offices as well as a police substation and auditorium that could double as a storm shelter.