City, Developer Will Finish Making Your Walk Down Lamar Street Suck Less Right After it Pays this Cable Bill

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You have always been able to walk from the site of the Convention Center Hotel over to, say, police headquarters, but why would you? That stretch of Lamar Street has never been particularly inviting to non-motorized transport, but some long-delayed street improvements designed to make the stroll less daunting are nearing completion.

Back in 2000, the North Central Texas Council of Governments awarded a grant to cover 80 percent of the $5.7 million effort to make you want to walk and bike down Lamar Street, with the city and developer Matthews Southwest splitting the rest. It's taken a long 12 years -- the city blames funding complications and design changes for delays -- but the City Council's Economic Development Committee learned a this morning that the project is almost complete.

There's a catch, of course. The construction bids from AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Oncor for burying their lines came in at $415,660 over budget. To make up for the shortfall, the city will need to kick in $207,830 through the Cedars TIF district, with a match coming from Matthews Southwest.

Committee members weren't particularly thrilled with the cost overruns but recommended approval of the payment. They were in a buoyant mood, after all, having just been informed that more than $5 million in NCTCOG grants approved in 2010 are finally entering the phase where the city and developers, who, for the most part are providing the matching funds, will actually see the money.

Funded projects include fund $2.2 million in pedestrian improvements at the Omni DART station; $1.8 million for the Zang triangle; $1.2 mil for the area around Atmos Lofts; and $1.2 mil for improvements around St. Paul and Commerce Street.

"With regard to the COG grants, you have probably heard the agonized cries of development community because it has been an agonizing process to get the grants funded," said assistant city manager Ryan Evans.

But better late than never, right?

"The city is getting somewhere between $5 million or $6 million in grants," said Councilwoman Ann Margolin. "That's a good thing. I think that should be mentioned."

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