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A week after Sundance Square Plaza opened to public acclaim, officials already look ahead to its next step while marveling at a seamless debut. “It exceeded our expectations in almost every way,” said Sundance Square President and CEO Johnny Campbell. Thirty years of planning and two years of site preparation met with a sunny Nov. 1 morning as elected officials, project architects and everyday folk applauded the plaza bordered by Third and Fourth, and Commerce and Houston streets. The $110 million project was a combination public-private partnership.
Viewed as the cultural epicenter of the 35-block Sundance Square development, the plaza element was designed as a gathering spot, what observers call a “living room” for folks to enjoy concerts, relax and appreciate an open space amid a bustling urban environment. Surrounding the square are buildings new and familiar. New to the development are the Westbrook and Commerce buildings. Among its tenants are a Taco Diner and Starbucks Coffee Co. The building also features a new clock above a permanent stage showcasing bands, other live performances and feature movies. Those applauding the plaza opening on Nov. 1 might not have realized that only hours earlier, workers rushed to complete brick work and put the finishing touches on buildings surrounding the square.
“When you’re doing an opening like that, it’s typical that there are all kinds of glitches and issues you have to deal with,” said Campbell, looking ahead to the development’s final phase. That will occur when the Cassidy building reaches completion just west of the plaza area, where two former lots now boast a 216-jet fountain that illuminates after sunset; four 32-foot umbrellas covering 6,000 square feet; a wave pool on the northeast side of the plaza running 65 feet in length; and a multi-purpose pavilion with bicycle racks, outdoor patios and seating. The Cassidy, offering residential and office uses at the southeast corner of Third and Throckmorton streets, is expected to reach completion by June 2014.