City officials are set to move ahead with redevelopment plans for the Center Block area of downtown Logan that will include the construction of a public plaza featuring a stage, an ice rink and other amenities.

LOGAN – Logan City officials are finally scheduled to begin steps toward the long-awaited and much-delayed redevelopment of the Center Block area of downtown Logan.

In their role as the Logan Redevelopment Agency (RDA) on Tuesday, the members of the city council will begin consideration of nearly $6 million in grants for proposed improvements to the city’s Center Block along Main Street.

The Center Block is bounded by Center St. on the south, Main St. on the east, 100 North on the north and 100 West to the west.

Those grants would include more than $4.3 million for the demolition of the now-vacant Emporium building at 47 North Main and construction of a public plaza with a stage, administrative building, an ice rink, splash pad and other amenities; plus more than $1.5 million for the remodeling of adjacent buildings to the south at 41 and 45 North Main St.

City Council chair Mark Anderson explained that the RDA grants will be discussed Tuesday only as workshop items and that no final decisions will be made at this time.

The city council’s normal procedure for such grants is to schedule them for discussion as workshop items, followed by a public hearing and finally an official vote allocating RDA funds.

Complicating that process is the fact that the city’s Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) must also officially approve the demolition of the Emporium building.

In fall of 2019, Mayor Holly Daines outlined a controversial plan to demolish the Emporium building and adjacent structures to build residential housing and a parking terrace within the so-called Center Block area.

That plan was opposed by some members of the local business community and was eventually blocked by an HPC ruling that precluded the demolition of the Emporium on historical grounds.

In January of 2020, Daines responded to that rejection with a plan to widen the scope of downtown revitalization with multiple smaller projects.

Those initiatives have included ongoing residential construction projects along 100 South and 100 East; the construction of a new city library; acquisition of property in the 300 block of Main St. for a future commercial development; and a scaled-back version of the mayor’s original plan for Center Block redevelopment.

That latter plan called for demolition of the Emporium and adjacent buildings to the north and new public facilities to be constructed only in the footprint of those structures.

During a September 2020 meeting, members of the HPC gave Daines’ new plan an unofficial thumps up, praising it as a major improvement over the previous controversial proposal.

In her 2021 State of the City address, Daines suggested that the proposed demolition of historic structures at 41 and 45 North Main had been a major concern for HPC members when they reviewed her original Center Block redevelopment plans. City officials now plan to remodel those buildings for new uses, including a rooftop restaurant.

While the HPC order prohibiting the Emporium demolition is still in effect, Anderson said he expects the committee members to lift that ban in early March, just in time for the RDA to vote on the proposed grants for the Center Block redevelopment.

City Council members are set to meet as the Logan Redevelopment Agency at approximately 7 p.m. on Tuesday. That meeting will be held via ZOOM technology.

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