Mall redo merits a May opening party

Posted: February 28, 2013

The Winchester Star

Diane Holland (left) and her daughter Dillon, both of Winchester, look over the new pavers being installed Wednesday on the Loudoun Street Mall before heading into the Village Market Bistro. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — On May 17-18, Winchester officials want the community to party — Loudoun Street Mall-style.

Though plans still are being finalized, that’s when the city intends to celebrate the reopening of the pedestrian mall following what will have been nearly 20 weeks of intense construction. It’s the mall’s first major renovation since it was built in 1974, covering about 1,600 feet between Piccadilly and Cork streets.

Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell said the Old Town Development Board’s Promotion Committee has been planning the event for some time.

“We feel like we have something to celebrate,” she said, “and this will give people a reason to come down to see the new mall and realize all the great things the downtown has to offer.”

The festivities are slated to begin Friday afternoon with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m.

On Saturday, Bell said, an ice cream social, tours of the mall and its new amenities, children’s activities and live music will highlight a daylong celebration. A tour highlighting downtown architecture also might be arranged.

The Old Town Winchester Business Association is considering partnering in the effort by offering special business promotions, Bell said.

Perry Eisenach, the city’s public services director, said some landscaping work might remain incomplete at the time of the event, but the majority should be done.

Council President John Willingham said he thinks a celebration will be well-deserved.

“I think it will be a great conclusion to a project that so far is well-planned and well-executed,” he said. “The contractor has been great, the residents have been great, the business owners have worked with us when asked, and Perry and his team have done a great job.

“It will be good to celebrate the conclusion of such an important project.”

Bell called Old Town Winchester “the heart and soul of the community” and said she hoped a few thousand people would turn out for the reopening.

“We want to create a strong sense of community in that area,” she said. “One way to do that is to have people come down and enjoy the environment that the new downtown mall creates.”

While area residents are most likely to attend the event, Bell said visitors from all over the region will be welcomed. Area hotels will be sent information about the celebration to provide to their guests.

— Contact Vic Bradshawat