The closure of the 800 block of Robson Street at Robson Square between Howe Street and Hornby Street was the first step towards the eventual permanent plaza.
Bollards on both ends of the block have sealed the street from vehicles for many months, and earlier today a new thick layer of asphalt was paved over the two-lane roadway to create a single-level surface between the elevated sidewalks.
According to the municipal government, the new levelled surface will provide a temporary flexible, functional, and level plaza for the public to use and enjoy, until construction begins on the new permanent design sometime in 2018.
“It’s exciting to see 800 Robson come alive as an accessible, vibrant permanent plaza for residents and visitors alike to enjoy,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement. “Set in the heart of downtown, 800 Robson has tremendous potential to become a world-class gathering place for people to connect not only with their City, but also with each other.”
The 800 block will be closed until this evening to allow construction crews to finish the temporary finishings. When the asphalt has properly dried, crews will add a painted design to brighten the surface.
The City says over 2,500 people pass through this section of Robson Street per hour on a busy day.
Vancouver City Council voted in April 2016 to reroute trolley buses, permanently seal the 800 block from vehicles, and turn it into a new pedestrian and event-oriented public space.
Preliminary conceptual designs for the $6.5-million permanent plaza at 800 Robson Square released late last year show bollards on both ends of the plaza, with the Hornby Street end supplemented by the planting of trees to create a defined block end.
There will also be movable and permanent seating, other street furniture, street lighting, bike parking and a bike share station, power and water connections so that the space can host special events and other programming, and wayfinding signage to promote major attractions.
When the permanent plaza is complete, it will complement the newly renovated Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza on West Georgia Street, which will fully reopen at the end of this month once final finishing touches are complete. Due to weather-related delays earlier this year, the cost of this project has risen to $9.6 million.