July 18, 2014 12:50PM
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — Imagining a redeveloped Hub site in downtown has become easier after the city worked with an engineering firm to develop a three-dimensional tour of the project.
Although the work has been underway for a few months, City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said officials hope to increase interest in the project and continue to keep the public informed about the plans to transform the vacant commercial site into a park. Residents have also expressed some skepticism about the site’s future, which Kendzior said the virtual tour could alleviate.
“We wanted to offer a virtual tour so folks could see what the completed facility would actually look like,” Kendzior said. “As you’re going through, what you’re seeing is based on the actual specifications of the project. So if you see a tree, it’s actually where a tree is going and you get an indication of the type of tree. Then you can see elevation changes and where all of the different amenities are located.”
The three-dimensional rendering shows the finished park, complete with trees, paths and the uncovered Harbor Brook, far different than the current 14-acre construction site. Gone are the large mounds of dirt and rocks, replaced by amenities like an amphitheater and a large pedestrian bridge connecting Pratt and State streets.
For years, the Hub stood as a flat piece of land before construction began, but in the virtual tour different elevations are apparent. The site is meant to act as an area to retain flood water during heavy rainstorms. By creating higher elevations on the outskirts of the site, the property would be able to hold additional water.
Most of the buildings that surround the site are also pictured in the tour, but only include the outline or shape of the structure. The new train station planned for State Street is a noticeable addition, however.
“It’s an effective way to show what the project is going to look like,” Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski said of the Hub and station. “People often want to be shown what this is going to look like and sometimes don’t believe it. This is an answer to that and we hope to use it on projects in the future.”
An environmental cleanup and remediation grant made the tour possible, Burdelski said. The grant requires the city to inform the public about the project and Burdelski said it made sense to put money from the grant toward a virtual tour. Local company Luchs Engineering was responsible for putting the tour together.
The virtual tour is also tied in with the Hub renaming contest, which is expected to launch in the near future, Kendzior said. Officials wanted people to get a better idea of what the park looked like before pitching a name, he said.
“That could have some influence on their choice of name,” he said.
The tour can be accessed by scanning the QR code attached to the story with a smart phone or tablet device. To scan the QR code, the device will already need to have a QR code scanner downloaded or users can download an app called 123 View. Once the software application is downloaded, users can scan the QR code or type in KGKQ to access the virtual tour.
The software also allows users to physically stand on the Hub or in the surrounding area and through GPS get a perspective of the graphic from where the user is standing. From East Main Street looking north toward Mills Memorial Apartments, users would be able to see walkways through the park and an exposed Harbor Brook with the pedestrian bridge in the distance. From the corner of Mill and State streets, users would see the amphitheater.
Although the tour is not accessible through a laptop or desktop computer yet, Burdelski said city officials plan to post the same renderings on the city’s website and eventually make the tour available online. The tour may also be expanded to cover other parts of downtown.