Downtown Chandler Improvements Project Wins Arizona Forward Award

The Commonwealth Avenue and Dakota Street Extension project (GMP 4 of our Downtown Chandler Infrastructure Improvements CMAR project) has been honored with an Award of Distinction in the Sustainable Communities category from Arizona Forward’s 38th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards program. The Awards Gala was held on Saturday, October 6 at the Westin Kierland Resort. Members of the project team accepted the award, including Marsha Reed (City Manager, City of Chandler), Dan Haskins (CIP Project Manager, City of Chandler), Andy Goh (Transportation CIP Manager, City of Chandler), Kevin Hartke (Council Member, City of Chandler), Denise Dunlop (Landscape Architect, J2 Design), Dan Spitza (Vice President, Achen-Gardner Construction), Christie Hall (Project Manager, Achen-Gardner Construction), and Scott Colbath (Project Superintendent, Achen-Gardner Construction).

This project created an important new north/south connectivity (Dakota Street) into downtown, while providing a historically educational and aesthetically pleasing experience along the historic SRP open canal (Commonwealth Avenue).

The Dakota Street connection included bike lanes, wide shaded pedestrian walkways, and a speed table to slow traffic and provide access for San Marcos Resort visitors and event goers.  Promoting an urban live, work and play experience was a key tenet to the health, wellness and connectivity of Chandler’s downtown experience and growth.

Commonwealth Avenue was reconstructed/revitalized to specifically preserve the historic SRP open canal, providing a historically educational and aesthetically pleasing experience along the canal. This walkable east/west connection between upcoming residential developments and the City’s Historic Square expanded the west side of downtown, creating a “neighborhood” feel. The historic significance of the canal is captured in back-lit art panes set in an artistic paneled fence accompanied by educational plaques. The blue fence is constructed of several different textures and weaving panels to draw the connection to water. The exposed aggregate walkway contains several hues of blue glass that lend continuity to the water theme. A mosaic of Dr. A.J. Chandler ties the historic relevance of downtown to the founder of the City of Chandler.

The project delivered on environmental sustainability by removing the oleanders along the open SRP canal that had grown into the canal bank, and concrete lining the canal to alleviate water stagnation and create a more positive flow. Energy efficient LED lighting was incorporated throughout the project. Low-water use plant material was utilized. A small green space was added using artificial turf - the infrastructure of this courtyard was built to easily expand and incorporate a water feature, play area, visual technologies, additional shade, and seating. The existing historic palm trees that line Commonwealth Avenue and are a visual landmark to the San Marcos Resort were maintained.

Public and private partnerships were critical to this project. The team worked closely during planning, design, and construction with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), State Historic Preservation Office (SHIPO), Salt River Project (SRP), San Marcos Resort, and numerous downtown businesses and residents.