Stillwater city officials have selected engineering, architecture and planning firm TKDA to design and provide construction administration services for the Chestnut Street Plaza project. The project will turn the former portion of Chestnut Street between Main Street and the Stillwater Lift Bridge into a pedestrian plaza.

The city received 10 bids for the project ranging from $250,000 to just under $400,000. TKDA was on the lower side of the offers at a fee not to exceed $261,125. The total amount budgeted for the project, including construction, is $2 million.

Community development director Bill Turnblad noted during the March 17 council meeting that the Chestnut Street Plaza excited many urban design firms, which contributed to the wide range of bids from what he considered to be “A team” proposals.

“There’s something exciting about designing this kind of space,” Turnblad said.

A committee consisting of Turnblad, public works director Shawn Sanders and city administrator Tom McCarty narrowed the bids down to their top three firms. Each of those firms were then interviewed by the committee. Turnblad said that TKDA had a combination of interesting design elements, a system of public engagement and understanding of construction management.

“Other teams had one or two of those elements, but TKDA did well with all of them,” he said. “Not only are they a good team, but the bid was a good value.”

Due to health precautions in response to COVID-19, it is currently uncertain as to how the development of the project will receive public feedback, Turnblad added. Public engagement will likely be done through technological means as opposed to public forums or discussions.

TKDA is a national firm with locations across the country, and has offices in St. Paul and Duluth, Minn. The firm has assisted on a wide variety of projects, from sports stadiums to highway bridges.

The predesign process for the plaza is scheduled to begin early April. If all parts of the project proceed as scheduled, construction would begin after Lumberjack Days in 2021.

Kevin Ott can be reached at

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