ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene City Council voted Thursday in approval of design and engineering fees for the proposed remodel of Cypress Street, in Downtown Abilene. They awarded contractor Jacob & Martin with that project in a separate vote, after hearing a presentation from CFO Will Duggar.

“We talked about creating a gateway signage just, again, to kind of create that sense of space and identity,” said Duggar as he presented the 3D animated render of Jacob & Martin’s vision for Cypress Street.

Among the changes discussed were a widening of the sidewalks from 11 feet to 20 feet, with occasional 8-foot landscaping extensions. This would lessen the parking area available by 35 spaces.

Duggar said that parking loss would be supplemented by a parking lot installation near the soon-to-be Abilene Downtown Hotel.

Construction will also see Cypress become a two-way street in addition to cosmetic, drainage, and atmospheric changes.

“I can tell that they’re trying to revitalize it and I love it because I love a downtown area,” said Janet Rygh, who moved to Abilene just last year and has been a vendor on Cypress through multiple Art Walks.

Rygh continued with her concerns, “Parking might be a little bit of a challenge but I think, I mean, there’s opportunities other places to build another parking lot.”

In total, Duggar told City Council that the project will cost more than $9.3 million ($9,368,150). The Council approved only the engineering and design fees to the tune of $774,000. The Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) fund will cover $558,000 with $300,000 coming from the Minor Improvement Program (MIP) fund. Council also approved $64,000 in additional funding to be used for a “Phase 1 contingency,” or as seed money for Phase 2 construction.

“When you look at downtowns in Texas that are vibrant, thriving and growing, they have a investment and a focus on pedestrian orientation,” City Manager Robert Hanna advocated.