As of January 1, the Orange Riverfront Boardwalk and Pavilion is overall 80 percent completed, according to Jay Trahan, director of economic development for the city of Orange.

However, some parts are more complete than others.  The stabilization stage of the project is 100 percent complete. In addition, the boardwalk at the east side of the project near Second Street and the middle section of the project between Fourth and Fifth Streets has been completed too.  The storm drainage throughout the property has been improved while the new irrigation system for future landscaping has been completed. The performance pavilion is currently being constructed. It will have a total height of 50 feet and the canopy will provide 2,000 feet of coverage. The boardwalk will be the stage for the pavilion.

The perimeter sidewalks are under construction while the 39 new light fixture package along the perimeter and boardwalk have been installed. The boardwalk itself is constructed of a sturdy Brazilian hardwood, Massaranduba, which under most conditions, has a 50-year life span.

Workers are erecting the columns needed for the pavilion.

The historical markers and brick pavers are expected to be installed within the next two to four weeks. Some of the historical markers include information on the Atakapan Indians, the Sawmill Industry, and former leaders of the area such as George Alexander Pattillo, Hugh Ochiltree, and John Harmon. In addition, there is a marker to honor those who were killed in action in the service to our country.

The city began the project June 4, 2012. City officials are planning a substantial completion by the end of February and a final completion of the construction by the end of March. The “finished” look of planting such as hydra seed should progress through May along with a grand opening.

With no tax increase to the citizens of Orange, the $6 million project is funded by a 20-year EDC Bond and a grant  from the Stark Foundation.

The city has hired the Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects along with SpawGlass as the general contractor to oversee the project. SpawGlass is on the site and all subcontractors report to them. Along the riverfront there is 1,400 linear feet which runs from the Orange County Administration Building to Second Street. The city has also acquired the 2 acre property where the Jack Tarr hotel once stood. The former hotel was built in 1957 and at one time was a showcase destination. But, over time and two hurricanes, Rita and Ike, the structure was heavily damaged and was torn down.

The purpose of the project is not only for riverfront stabilization but to improve the quality of life in downtown Orange by improving access and accessibility to the Sabine River. The boardwalk will also serve as building blocks for downtown redevelopment with small retail shops along with cafes and restaurants.

“Future plans include promoting the downtown area for the purpose of economic development,” Trahan said.

The project will also add synergy to the Stark Foundation properties and Lamar State College-Orange, he added.

“This project is a great opportunity to capitalize on one of the great assets of Orange— the Sabine River,” Trahan said.

An aerial picture of the area shows where the boardwalk will be located.