A permanent plaza has been under construction since Aug. 3 in downtown Elon, and will be complete by early December. The plaza, which will cost roughly $450,000, will be located on West College Avenue and North Williamson Avenue.
According to town of Elon downtown development director Jill Weston, the purpose of the plaza is to create a gathering place for events such as a dining space, a place for live music and somewhere to hold holiday events.
“It makes the center of downtown a place to gather to eat, maybe have some live music and some other seasonal events,” Weston said.
According to Weston, the plaza will be a place to help the holiday season feel festive in Elon, with the addition of a Christmas tree and a Menorah during the holiday season.
Weston said many of the town’s holiday events will be held in the plaza.
The concept of a plaza isn’t new to Elon, however; Weston said the town had a temporary plaza in the same location for about 3 years during the COVID-19 pandemic to see how the community reacted to having the space.
“It became so popular. I think the whole community really loved it, and we decided it would really be nice to make it a permanent spot,” Weston said.
After this decision, the town partnered with Elon University to help find funding for the construction of a permanent space.
Sophomore Savannah Ginda said she is excited for the opportunities the plaza will bring with its proximity to off-campus housing, such as The Oaks and Park Place Neighborhood.
“It might be a nice way to connect the different sides of campus because I feel like a lot of the upperclassmen live off campus, and then all the underclassmen are over here,” Ginda said. “It might be a nice middle ground hangout area.”
Sophomore Delaney Guidi said she believes the plaza could serve as a way to reach off-campus upperclassmen.
“I think that they should use the new plaza as an opportunity to hold more events that are maybe a little bit closer to Oaks — a little bit closer to some of the locations that aren’t just the dorms,” Guidi said.
Due to the town of Elon’s small size, Guidi said many social events are often hosted in Burlington rather than Elon.
Guidi said she believes this poses a challenge to students who don’t have the ability to travel to Burlington easily.
“There are some students who don't have cars or simply don't really want to try to trek all the way out to Burlington,” Guidi said. “I think having a space where we can hold more events where it's a little bit more accessible and reachable to the students who are on campus, I think that might increase the turnout overall.”
Despite potential for community gatherings, sophomore Lauren Kulda said the timing of the plaza construction has been inconvenient.
“It would have been more beneficial if they would have built it more in the summer because it blocks off right here in the sidewalk. There's no sidewalk to walk on,” Kulda said.
Guidi previously worked at The Center for Design Thinking, which is located on 103 W. College Ave., and struggled to get to work as a result of the construction. The only way to access the door to the Center for Design Thinking is to walk all the way around the construction site. The crosswalk is also obstructed due to the construction, so jaywalking is required to cross the street.
“I'd have a ridiculous time trying to cross the street and go around the construction in order to get to work every day,” Guidi said.