FREMONT -- As a contractor prepares work on lengthening the downtown's key roadway to a vibrant downtown, city leaders have announced plans to celebrate its groundbreaking.
The city will pay Goodfellow Top Grade Construction nearly $6 million to extend Capitol Avenue, which Fremont leaders envision as the new downtown's "Main Street."
Meantime, Fremont is finalizing details on using eminent domain to acquire a commercial building that must be torn down to make way for the project, city leaders said.
"The case is still chugging along, and we expect to have possession of the building later this month," said City Attorney Harvey Levine.
The street extension will begin in August and is expected to be done next spring, said Fremont City Engineer Norm Hughes.
The longer Capitol Avenue will create a visible gateway to the 110-acre area anchored by City Hall near the Fremont BART station.
Goodfellow, selected for the job last week, will extend the road about one-fifth of a mile, roughly the size of a long city block, connecting the Hub Shopping Center on Fremont Boulevard to Gateway Plaza on Paseo Padre Parkway.
The extension also will create gateway entry points from both Fremont Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway, making Capitol Avenue the downtown area's centerpiece street, city leaders said.
Construction will narrow the avenue, adding bike lanes, diagonal parking and wider sidewalks. Those changes are meant to make it more attractive to bicyclists and pedestrians, forming an urban center with shops, homes and businesses easy to find on foot.
"This new main street will be an attractive place to shop, stroll and dine, and will become the true center of the Downtown District," a city report states.
The project's total cost is estimated around $16.9 million. It will be paid in part with a $5.8 million grant awarded by Bay Area transportation agencies.
To extend the road, construction crews must demolish a three-story commercial building at 39138 Fremont Blvd., between Mowry and Beacon avenues.
The city's estimated cost of acquiring the property through eminent domain is around $6.3 million, said Levine.
The city made a written offer about 18 months ago to buy the land from Fremont Capital Group But the two sides could not reach an agreement.
Peter Cohen, whose Southern California company owns the property, could not be reached for comment for this story.
The project's groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled at 5 p.m. Friday, July 25, on Capitol Avenue, near City Hall and the Fremont Family Resource Center.
Mayor Bill Harrison will oversee the event, which also will feature a musical performance and food provided by the Fremont Street Eats trucks.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.