St. Armands Business Improvement District is working to place a temporary bathroom facility in St. Armands Circle Park. Could a carousel follow?
| 6:00 a.m. February 18, 2021
After spending five years developing plans for a free-standing restroom facility, the St. Armands Business Improvement District is moving toward scrapping that project and pursuing alternate options for public restrooms.
At its Feb. 10 meeting, the St. Armands BID agreed to procure temporary public bathrooms in the form of luxury trailers, estimated to cost around $20,000 for four months. The group did not finalize a location for the restrooms but targeted the public parking lot on Fillmore Drive.
The BID also agreed to gather information about a potential long-term option for public restrooms: leasing the commercial space at 21 Fillmore Drive. Although the BID did not have detailed cost estimates for the lease or other expenses, the group believed it would offer savings over building a new structure.
Since 2016, the BID has been focused primarily on constructing bathrooms in the medians on the Circle, spending about $90,000 on engineering and other pre-construction expenses. The latest estimates place the cost of building the BID’s preferred design at $480,877 for a two-building, three-stall restroom project.
At the Feb. 10 meeting, board member Gavin Meshad continued to express concern about a commitment to a permanent stand-alone restroom structure.
“I think we’re going to look back in five or 10 years and say, ‘Wow, what did we do?’” Meshad said. “‘Why did we put something that we’re stuck with forever in this median?’”
The board discussed questions they would need to answer before finalizing the use of the commercial space on Fillmore Drive, including design details and staffing. Although the group was looking for an opportunity to save costs, board member Geoffrey Michel said he didn’t want a bare-bones space.
“We want it to be special; we want it to feel good,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a Band-Aid. I want it to be a really healthy solution that happens to be the least cost.”
On Wednesday, the board agreed to prepare a lease for the commercial space for consideration at a March meeting.
St. Armands centerpieces
Could a carousel be coming to St. Armands Circle Park? How about a statue of Nik Wallenda?
The St. Armands Business Improvement District discussed a pair of concepts Wednesday that would add new features to the park at the center of the barrier island commercial hub. The board expressed preliminary support for both.
The carousel proposal came from Jeff Koffman of Ride Entertainment, a company that provides services to theme parks and other amusement facilities. In addition to the carousel, Koffman’s proposal for the park included games, swings and photo-friendly circus-themed features, all within a roped-off area requiring a fee.
A group brought the concept of the Wallenda statue to city staff in 2020 and got a positive response, Planning Director Steve Cover said. Cover said the idea was to do an interactive piece that would allow visitors to pose alongside the artwork. The group has not developed a design or raised funds for the art, which likely wouldn’t be complete until 2022 even if the city supports the idea, Cover said.
Both proposals drew some questions from the BID about permanence, aesthetics and the flexibility to accommodate events in the park. Still, board members encouraging both presenters to move forward.
Board member Gavin Meshad said the ideas were in line with the group’s efforts to revitalize St. Armands Circle and add more amenities. Even if the carousel and statue don’t work out, the BID is interested in making changes to make St. Armands Circle Park more of an attraction.
“It’s an underutilized asset in the Circle,” Meshad said.