Lawrence’s Civic Plaza renovations near completion


Fort Harrison Reuse Authority President Jeff Vest estimates that renovations to the Civic Plaza at 5710 Lawrence Village Pkwy., in downtown Lawrence are 85 percent complete. Work has been underway for nearly five months.

According to Joe Murphy, former chief of staff for the City of Lawrence, the FHRA started designs and construction plans  in late 2020.. One major change is the new hardscape that  replaced the previous greenspace.

In the past, the FHRA used the  space for events such as weekly farmers markets, live music and the annual winter festival, Winter Fest, but it created challenges.

“The grass was not conducive to our previous events, especially in the fall and winter when we would get one or two days of heavy rainfall,” Murphy said. “ The space becomes torn up and unusable for the remainder of the season.”

Cori Korn, City of Lawrence’s  chief of staff, said  the solid surface will allow the city to program events at the improved space. There is more room for live entertainment, markets and activities for kids.

Additional benches, multi-use water fountains and electrical outlets are also being installed. The FHRA is waiting on lights and a wind tree to arrive for installation. The wind tree will be installed in the center of the plaza.

“This has allowed us to take a plain grass area and turn it into a beautiful hardscape that provides a great gathering area with beautiful gardens around it,” Korn said.

Vest, a lifelong Lawrence resident, marvels at the city’s growth.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve lived out here my whole life. I never thought we’d have a cultural campus the way we have or a civic plaza that’ll be a central gathering place.”

According to Vest, the FHRA’s goal is to finish in time for Winter Fest, which begins  the weekend after Thanksgiving. The event runs Nov. 26th through Dec. 23 with the tree lighting set for opening night. The festival also includes vendors, ice skating and holiday-themed events. The FHRA is planning a ribbon cutting for the Lawrence Civic Plaza that Vest hopes  to happen by Nov. 2.