What started out as a temporary fix for scarce outdoor dining space will become a permanent fixture after Elon’s board of aldermen this week approved a conceptual design for a gathering area on West College Avenue.
The design, proposed to the board last week by consultant Allison Platt, transforms what is now a large tent and picnic tables shielded from Williamson Avenue traffic by a temporary wall into a brick-covered plaza with lighting and a stage for musicians, in addition to the requisite tables and chairs.
Along with functioning as a dining area and small music venue, downtown development coordinator Kathleen Patterson has also suggested that it could serve as a place for dance troupes, yoga classes, a mini market, and the location of the town’s annual Christmas tree.
The 100 block of West College Avenue has been subject to revision since before the onset of the pandemic last spring, with town staff having tested out a one-way street model in August 2019. Following the shut-down of indoor dining last year, that portion of the street was outfitted with picnic tables and a tent to allow customers from the nearby downtown restaurants to sit outside for their meals. Patterson told the board last week that the area has also been used as a meeting spot for university classes and friend groups.
The cost of contracting with Platt to design the area was $13,800, a total approved in June as part of the town’s budget. Following this week’s unanimous approval of the conceptual design, town staff will begin working with an engineer to develop a more finalized design that will eventually be put before the board for approval.