In November, family members of longtime neighborhood business and property owner Victor Nelson joined PDC Executive Director Kimberly Branam to dedicate the new Nelson Plaza at 8419 N. Interstate Ave. in the Kenton neighborhood. The site will be a community gathering space and home for to up to six new food carts serving the neighborhood.
Nelson was the founder of Kenton Machine Works and a driving force behind the neighborhood’s most visible landmark, the Paul Bunyan statue at the north end of Interstate Avenue. The plaza site is one of four properties originally owned by the Nelson family and purchased by PDC in 2011 for future development. Due to market conditions, PDC decided to hold onto the Plaza site and make tenant improvements. In 2015, PDC completed a development study that recommended a phased approach for development of the site and surrounding PDC-owned properties.
The agency worked with a group of community stakeholders to gather input on use of the site. The stakeholders, including local business owners and members of the Kenton Neighborhood and Kenton Business Association, voiced a strong desire to activate the space and attract the public to the north end of Denver Avenue.
“We’re happy to honor the Nelson family’s role in Kenton and dedicate this site as a community space that also offers new opportunities for food entrepreneurs to serve residents and local businesses and their employees,” said Branham.
“Our family has a long history here in Kenton, and we’re honored to have a plaque recognizing the role of my grandfather, as not only a longtime property and business owner but also as the visionary behind Kenton’s landmark Paul Bunyan statue,” said Karen Nelson Wheeler. “We’re very proud of our impact on the community and look forward to its future growth.”
The design and construction team – Raimore Construction, KPFF, 2.Ink Studio and R&W Engineering – incorporated many of the community ideas, including spaces for food carts, a courtyard, a boardwalk path, a community kiosk and plants and trees. PDC used Interstate Corridor urban renewal area funds for the site renovation.
Food carts now up and running at the plaza include DeHomis, Drunken Noodle and Killa Dilla. PDC’s history in improving the Kenton neighborhood dates back many years and includes a $5 million streetscape project completed in 2010.
Created by voters in 1958, the development commission promotes economic development and urban renewal by investing in job creation, innovation and economic opportunity throughout the city.