South Central Park, designed by Chamber member Pennoni, has won the FL Engineering Society Ridge Chapter's Project of the Year. Read more below!
Construction Bid Cost: $4,444,444.44
Construction Completion: December 2018
Participants: Owner – City of Winter Haven
Design Engineer of Record – Pennoni
Contractor – Cobb Construction
3D Surveying and Design Visualization - Pennoni
Landscape Architect – S&ME
In 2008, the City commissioned design efforts for streetscape and park improvements in the South Central Park area and adjacent roadways in its continuing effort to revitalize the City’s downtown and extend the City’s downtown linear park system. This work was completed in 2010; however, due to an economic downturn, these improvements were not implemented. During the following years, numerous private and public-sector improvements occurred within and around the project area, including the City’s purchase and revisions around the former Hill Building.
Then in 2016, the City of Winter Haven revived the project and again retained Pennoni to develop a revised master plan/redesign for improvements in the City’s South Central Park area and adjacent streets to incorporate revised site conditions on 15 City block frontages. These improvements are part of the City’s comprehensive multi-year effort to expand its award-winning network of connected parks and network of multi-purpose trails in its downtown core area. Overall community open space area was increased, while maintaining parking space counts, by strategically converting the oversized 4-lane Ave. A pavement to a 2-lane road, additional park space, and parking opportunities.
The project area incorporates portions of six City streets including 3rd, 4th, and 5th Streets, along with Central, Avenue A SW, and Magnolia Avenue SW. Streetscape improvements were designed for the frontages (to face of buildings or property line as applicable) along multiple sides of these streets. Examples of detailed components include unique shaded swings, shaded bicycle repair facilities, landscaping, interactive and customizable LED lighting system, decorative walls, planters, human and canine drinking fountains, custom digital interactive smart City visitor information kiosk, and custom lithomosaic tile city logos and street nameplates embedded in walkways, to name a few.
In addition to the numerous unique placemaking features not seen in central Florida, the multi-functional use approach allows the area to be utilized during the weekday as a typical business-oriented urban environment, while the streets in the multiple block area can be shut down with retractable bollards and converted after hours into a flat piazza event space for community use. Infrastructure accommodations (power, water, lighting, etc). were strategically designed into the open space to facilitate a variety of venues such as concerts and other entertainment via a mobile stage unit, art shows, markets, and other community events. The southeast portion of the project incorporates the triangular former Hill Building block, which has now been transformed into another multi-functional open space for events and parking, which is lined on the adjacent pedestrian trail with a series of custom shaded swings and a bike repair station that are illuminated at night to become a popular night-time destination.
Geometrically problematic Magnolia Ave. was repurposed from a vehicular corridor to a pedestrian corridor to facilitate the grand pedestrian only trail entrance into downtown, while completing a critical downtown section of the City’s Chain of Lakes Trail network.
Pennoni’s design scope for South Central Park included all general civil engineering grading, drainage, roadway, landscaping, irrigation, electrical, specialty lighting, and utilities design and associated permitting. The project design was completed in 2016 with a bid date of July 2017. The project was bid and awarded to Cobb Construction with a $4.4 million construction cost, with construction completed in October 2018.
Describe the most unique, challenging, and/or innovative aspect of the project:
Innovation: Although computerized and 3D CAD design tools emerged in the 1970’s, capturing existing condition data and producing scaled 3D simulations was both difficult and costly until recently. Modern 3D laser scanning and design software now makes it possible to produce high quality scaled models and animated visualizations of municipal infrastructure projects in a cost-effective manner. Winter Haven’s recently completed South Central Park project used these cutting-edge smart technology solutions to prepare 3D visualization videos and renderings to convey the redesign intent to City staff, Commission, and public.
Challenges: One of the most significant challenges to be overcome was how to construct a flat piazza event space with little curbing in a downtown environment, while providing necessary grading/drainage and pedestrian safety improvements. Numerous grading challenges were overcome to accomplish the project goal by use of ribbon curbing, Miami curbing, traffic bollards, planter box barriers, speed humps, and other strategic measures.
In what ways does the project benefit the public:
This unique project encompasses 15 City block frontages in the heart of downtown Winter Haven, which impacts parking and numerous businesses within and along the former railroad corridor and growing linear park system. Conceptual planning and visualization of the unique flat piazza event space, park,
and key intersecting leg of the City’s trail network showed how the project improved the aesthetic and pedestrian qualities of the streets and park by creating an outdoor piazza for special entertainment events and general public use and enjoyment. The custom LED lighting system can be programmed for various events and synchronized to concert music with colors and patterns to create an energized, welcoming, and safe nighttime environment for residents and visitors to the area. The activity generated promotes more night life and business in the downtown core area, with economic development benefits to businesses, residents, and tourism efforts. The influx of new downtown stores, restaurants, and residential offerings is just one positive result of this public investment.
Why should this project receive recognition as the FES Ridge Chapter Project of the Year:
This project incorporates numerous unique elements and multi-functional uses to create a sense of place, both daytime and night-time, unlike any other municipal event space in central Florida. The project demonstrates how multi-use design principles can be incorporated to allow a valuable public realm space to be maximized for various uses at different times of the day or night, and how design and aesthetics can be used to create synergies between sometimes opposing uses. The design accommodates needed parking and circulation during business hours in the downtown core, and then transforms into a large lighted piazza event space for community use after hours and on weekends. Numerous custom design elements are incorporated into the park to accommodate gatherings, concerts, art shows, markets, and other entertainment events. The pedestrian only walkway along the previous Magnolia Avenue connects the linear park system to the award-winning Third Street Trail System and welcomes pedestrians to stroll along the gateway or take a pleasant rest on one of the five custom designed large-scale shaded swings.
In addition to the beauty and the function of South Central Park, the project provokes discussion and rethinking the historical approach to designing and conveying a project vision/future conditions to stakeholders by applying 3D survey/data collection and 3D Visualization smart solutions to a host of municipal infrastructure applications from roadway and drainage improvements to special lighting and street furnishings. This is one of the first projects to utilize both 3D HDLS scanning to capture existing horizontal and vertical conditions in a congested downtown area, and subsequently using this point cloud data to create a 3D design model and a subsequent flythrough video to visualize the proposed improvements for public presentation purposes. Pennoni has created a split screen video to depict stage 1 (3D laser scanning); stage 2 (3D model and visualization video of both existing and proposed features); and stage 3 (drone flythrough footage of the completed project).