CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The face of the Carbondale Strip is changing in a way city leaders say will help revitalize the downtown area.
The old 710 Bookstore building is gone. In its place, several pieces of heavy equipment that zigzag across a hole that's about one-square block in size.
Crews are laying the groundwork for what will be the Carbondale Flats development.
"They're drilling caissons, and putting up pilings now," said Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity. "They'll start doing sub-surface draining and then start bringing the building out of the ground. They're looking for occupancy by August 2015."
Carbondale Flats is a five-story mixed-use property. Retail stores and a parking garage will fill the ground floor. Apartments will fill the remaining four floors, creating enough space for at least 360 students to call this spot on the Strip home.
"We hope it's the first building of many more to come that will revitalize our downtown," said Baity.
The demolition of the 710 Bookstore building also destroyed a large parking lot. Baity says there was some concern about that loss of parking. Now the city plans to construct a 75-space parking lot across the street out of what is currently a gravel lot behind several businesses on the Strip.
"A lot of people don't even know that gravel lot is back there," Baity said. "It is very underutilized. Not only by not many people parking there, but when they do park, it's totally chaotic. It might be sideways, it might be perpendicular. Now it'll be in an orderly fashion."
The lot will provide metered, two-hour parking. Baity says construction should begin this fall, with the new parking spaces available for use this winter.