Parade, Stevens Center repairs to cause downtown road closures over weekend

With a Christmas parade today and Stevens Center repairs on Sunday, better plan ahead before coming downtown this weekend.

Downtown street closures ahead of the Jaycees Holiday Parade will begin at 2 p.m. today, with the parade starting at 5.

A block-long section of Marshall Street downtown will be closed from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday as workers get ready to install netting to stop terra cotta from falling from the Stevens Center.

The Stevens Center project is a three-month effort by the UNC School of the Arts to carry out short-term repairs on the building, which is the school’s primary performing arts site.

Sunday’s work will close Marshall Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, as workers use a crane to move equipment into place. More closures are ahead later in December and into January and February as the netting is installed.

Engineers discovered that water has gotten behind the terra cotta on the upper floors of the Stevens Center. The water weakened the material and its mounting hardware. The netting will protect people from any debris that might fall.

“Several pieces of terra cotta fell from the upper floors of the Stevens Center this summer, and we immediately installed planking underneath the Plexiglas canopy to protect patrons and people walking by,” said Christopher Placco, the university architect.

To install the netting, workers first have to put in place rails on the roof from which the netting will be suspended with hooks. Sunday’s closure is to bring in the equipment, with work taking place on installing the rail system from Monday to Dec. 18.

The roof work overlaps with performances of “The Nutcracker” from Friday through Dec. 17, but the show will go on.

“We’re open for business and look forward to welcoming all of our patrons who have purchased and will purchase tickets,” said Wiley Hausam, the managing director of performance facilities at UNCSA. “Look for the additional lighting on the scaffolding at the main entrances to the Stevens Center. We’d like to urge patrons to arrive for their performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ a little earlier than usual, since the scaffolding may slow down traffic on our sidewalk.”

The “Nutcracker” boutique also will be open for the sale of holiday gift items, Hausam said.

According to the timeline confirmed with the City of Winston-Salem, the Marshall Street netting installation will run from Dec. 18 to Jan. 15. That means one lane of Marshall Street will be closed from Fourth to Fifth streets during this time, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

In addition, the Marshall Street sidewalk on the Stevens Center side will be barricaded from the Stevens Center loading dock to Fourth Street while the Marshall Street netting installation is happening.

The Fourth Street netting installation will occur from Jan. 22 to Feb. 16. That means that a lane of Fourth Street will be closed from Cherry to Spruce streets during this time, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Each street will have one lane open at all times, and work will never be performed on both streets simultaneously, Placco said.

The School of the Arts is spending approximately $300,000 of state-supplied repair and renovation funds to install the specialized netting and make the roof waterproof. A permanent repair to the facade will cost between $2-3 million and is probably two to three years away, Placco said.

The netting and terra cotta work are not part of the $35.2 million Stevens Center renovation announced in September by UNCSA, but Placco said it points out the real need for refurbishing an aging facility, which was last renovated in 1983.

“We will also add additional netting above the Plexiglas canopy to ensure the safety of our guests and pedestrians while this project is underway,” Placco said.

Meanwhile, the holiday parade will begin at 5 p.m. today on Fourth Street between Spring and Poplar streets, proceed east on Fourth, turn south on Liberty Street and end at Corpening Plaza. Delays, closures and detours should be expected in the area around Fourth and Broad streets starting at 2 p.m. The parade route will be closed in coordination with the procession once the parade begins.