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Design Center receives grant for downtown furniture

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Design Center has been selected to receive a $4,500 grant from the Willmar Area Community Foundation to buy permanent outdoor furniture for the Willmar Blend Street Festival.

Beverly Dougherty, Design Center project coordinator, said the selection of the design and placement of the furniture will be directed by Design Center urban planner Adam Arvidson and the city of Willmar. The design of the furniture will hinge on the final design of the Becker Avenue complete street project.

The project calls for designing a streetscape on Becker Avenue between First Street South and Sixth Street Southwest that will allow for traffic but incorporate trees, landscaping and public plazas for pedestrians and outdoor activities such as the Becker Market. The project will extend the Glacial Lakes Trail into central downtown as well.

Representatives of the Design Center, city, Rice Hospital and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission will select an architect to prepare schematic designs and preliminary cost estimates for the street project, said Dougherty.

The Design Center has contributed $5,000 toward the cost of the architect. The Willmar Housing and Redevelopment Authority has contributed $5,000 and the EDC has provided $10,000.

The new furniture, with permanent tables, chairs and umbrella tops, will be available for other Becker Avenue events such as Becker Market, Holidaze, Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!, Willmar Fests Block Party, If It's Tuesday It Must Be Bethel, "and anyone who wants to enjoy lunch and chat outside,'' said Dougherty.

"The city has provided picnic tables, but we've always wanted to have more ambiance with a different look,'' said Dougherty. The furniture, she said, "will serve everything that happens on that street.''