The $6.2 million Orange Riverfront Boardwalk and Pavilion project at the Sabine River in downtown Orange is nearing completion.

The “finished” look of plantings such as hydra seed should progress through May for the opening of the project, although final completion is scheduled for Friday.

City and staff is currently working on plans to finalize the project with a ribbon cutting/grand opening on the weekend of May 17-18, according to Jay Trahan, director of economic development for the city of Orange.

The project began June 4, 2012. Jeff Carbo Landscape Architects served as the design team and consultants through the bidding, regulatory and construction process. Spaw Glass Construction is the general contractor and all sub-contractors report to them.

Along the riverfront there is 1,400 linear feet of the boardwalk 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 boardwalk is made of Massaranduba, Brazilian hardwood which has a 50 year life span. Other parts of the project include green space and donor brick pavers from the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial; and an outdoor performance pavilion.  Also included are historical markers. 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 storm drainage throughout the property has been improved while the new irrigation system for landscaping has been completed. The perimeter sidewalks have a new 39 light fixture package along the perimeter and the boardwalk.

The basic components of the project include shoreline stabilization along the Sabine River in downtown Orange but also the project will improve visibility and access to the Sabine River while serving  as building blocks for small retail/café development. In addition, the quality of life will improve for area residents with such a grand place for which to be proud, Trahan said.

The performance pavilion has a total height of 50 feet and the canopy provides 2,000 feet of coverage. The boardwalk will serve as the stage for the pavilion.

Future performance venues at the pavilion should attract out of town guests who may stay in local hotels which will help Orange grow and the place where guests will want to go.

The project was funded by a 20 year Economic Development Corporation bond program, Hotel Occupancy Tax funds, and a generous grant from the Stark Foundation.  Local residents will not see an increase in taxes to support the venue. The City of Orange EDC is designated a Type 4B in the state of Texas, according to Trahan.

“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.

The Orange Riverfront Boardwalk and Pavillion project will be completed on Friday with a ribbon cutting/grand opening scheduled for the weekend of May 17-18.