Bond Funding: The $40 million in bonds that are funding the projects will need to be borrowed within seven years from the referendum being passed, per North Carolina local government laws and policies. The City cannot borrow the bond money until the bids are in hand from the contractors who will build the projects. In August 2018, Hickory City Council approved to issue $15 million of general obligation public improvement bonds in 2018, as the first of three rounds of bond issues. The City plans to issue bonds in 2018, 2019, and 2021 to coincide with project design.
The first bonds were sold on August 28, 2018, with a closing date of September 19, 2018. This first bond issue covered some costs of the City Walk, Riverwalk, U.S. Highway 321/70 gateway, and Trivium Corporate Center, in addition to other project related expenses.
Design Phase: When the design phase began, the City put out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from companies who were interested in designing the projects. As the projects are designed and engineered, Requests for Proposals (RFP) for contractors will take place. While the desire is for local companies to perform a large part of the work, state law requires the City hire the most qualified professionals and low bid contractors.
The Riverwalk and City Walk are currently in the design phase. The Riverwalk design phase began in February 2017 and continues to be on schedule. 2019 plans are to complete Riverwalk designs and federal permitting. City Walk plans for the main multi-purpose pathway have been submitted for constructability review by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and are currently under review with Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR). The plans, once receiving final approval from NCDOT and a project agreement from NSRR, will go the Federal Highway Administration for authorization to bid the project.
The Gateway design was completed in summer 2017.
Construction Phase: Trivium Corporate Center is currently under construction. An official ground breaking ceremony was held on May 16, 2018, to celebrate the the start of construction for Trivium Corporate Center. The historic ground breaking also marked the beginning of construction on the first of four City of Hickory bond projects.
Construction of the Gateway at U.S. Highway 321 and 70 began in December 2018, with the installation of landscaping beds in all four quadrants of the interchange. Elements of the Gateway sculpture were installed in February 2019. Final landscaping and backlighting for the Gateway was installed in early April 2019 to officially complete the project.
Union Square renovations and streetscape improvements in Downtown Hickory, a planned component of the City Walk project, started in early April 2019 and are currently underway.
The passage of the bond referendum was really elating, and from that moment, there has been a sense of urgency to get these projects built quickly. However, there are significant regulations that must be met in regard to the railroad, lake access, and North Carolina Department of Transportation rules. It is a time consuming process that is being methodically worked through. Seeing the actual bond projects come to life does not happen overnight. These are long-term projects. The City will continue to measure twice and cut once to ensure the best outcome for each project.