KNIGHTDALE — The first phase of downtown Knightdale’s resurrection is expected to be completed this week when First Avenue reopens after a year of renovations.
Knightdale spent more than $864,000 to widen the road, add parallel parking, install new storm drains, extend the sidewalk, and repave the street. Knightdale staff and Town Council say the upgrades are essential to pave the way for continued economic development downtown.
“The final product has been a tremendous improvement,” Fred Boone, Knightdale engineering director, told Town Council at its April 17 meeting.
New homes and businesses are expected to blossom along the First Avenue corridor after Knightdale opens a 70-acre park just off the street this July. Newly-installed sidewalks will connect downtown to the park. Eventually, the Mingo Creek greenway will also wind through downtown to the park.
“This is an important step for the revitalization of downtown,” Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen said. “One of the problems was lack of parking ... and connectivity.”
Completion of the project should come as a relief to residents of downtown Knightdale. The project, which started last April, was delayed last year when construction crews discovered a 12-inch water line that hadn’t been identified on town maps. Many downtown residents surrendered part of their properties during construction. For four months, construction crews blocked off the street.
“I had a couple of residents along First Avenue call me up and say, ‘I know it was a pain, but job well done.’” Killen said.
Knightdale will soon turn its attention to Second Avenue, which became worn down when drivers used it as a detour when First Avenue was closed.