A public-private partnership between the City of Sedalia and developer Furnell Companies aims to create an outdoor venue space in downtown Sedalia.

The partnership was announced Monday night during the City Council's regular meeting at the Municipal Building, 2nd and Osage, across the street from the proposed construction site.

The area, once known simply as “Gazebo Park,” is basically an empty lot where buildings once stood before they burned and were demolished several years ago.

https://ksisradio.com/downtown-plaza-project-update-presented-to-sedalia-council/

Progress on a “Downtown Plaza” was presented to Council Oct. 1, 2018, and included input from SDDI, Sedalia Parks & Rec, Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, Sedalia Area Farmers Market, the Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sedalia City Council, Pettis County, the Heritage Foundation and local businesses.

That was two-and-a-half years ago, and apparently nothing materialized from that project, which touted a concessions area, storage space, bike racks, and a 150-seat covered performance area, with the capability to expand seating to another 150 uncovered, as well as more parking.

The new project unveiled Monday night promises an event pavilion, an open pad, a shelter, restrooms and “green space” to house up to 850 people.

It is hoped that 20 events per year, organized through Sedalia Parks & Rec, will occur at the site in the 200 block of South Ohio. That includes major events such as the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation Festival, which was canceled last year and this year as well due to COVID.

It is hoped that the “Downtown Pavilion Project” will lure more people to the downtown area as a destination.

The shelter and restrooms will remain open to the public at all times when a specific event is not taking place at the pavilion, according to a press release from the City of Sedalia.

“By doing it as a public-private partnership, we were able to stretch the public tax dollars much further, while also leveraging private investment to provide more benefit to the public in general,” the release said. “Simply put, together we are able to accomplish more.”

In its press release, Furnell Companies Vice President Erica Eisenmenger noted that the venue space will occupy approximately 3100 square feet, and will feature an open-air event stage, restrooms, preparation and dressing room areas, as well as access to off-street parking.

“We are excited for the opportunity to bring a unique, outdoor venue space to not only our community, but our historic downtown,” Furnell said in the release. “We believe this type of venue will be yet another asset in attracting individuals and increased foot traffic to downtown Sedalia.”

Eisenmenger added that Furnell Companies intends to utilize the pavilion for both privately-leased events, such as weddings or other celebrations, as well as public events through a coperative programming agreement with the City of Sedalia and Sedalia Parks & Rec.

Furnell will offer a no-usage fee for the pavilion during such events, it was noted.

Currently, Furnell Companies lease out the popular Fox Event Theatre at the Landmark Building (southeast corner of 5th and Ohio) for special events year round.

Neither press release mentioned a dollar figure that would be required to make the downtown pavilion dream a reality.

Eisenmenger and her father attended Monday night's meeting, but did not speak publicly.

Randy Kirby
Furnell Company
Furnell Company