POLO – How do you bring a skate park to a city’s downtown area? It’s takes a deep pocket.
Just ask Jim O’Connor. The Polo developer has plunked a pocket park smack dab in the heart of the city’s business district.
While that might seem like an unlikely place for a skate park, it’s part of O’Connor’s bigger plan to turn one of the downtown’s oldest buildings into a hub of community and commerce.
O’Connor bought the building at 112 E. Mason St. in 2002, and it didn’t take long for him to put together plans to refurbish the Victorian-era structure. He’s already installed 15 geothermal wells and replaced the dirt floor in the basement.
Now, he’s turning his attention to the adjacent lot, where Birdland Skate Park has landed. The park, scheduled to open in the spring, will boast features for all skill levels.
Skaters can go off the 4-foot deep end of the bowl, or try the shallower, 3-foot deep end. There’s also a 7-foot-high extension, a small quarter pipe, an A-frame rail, and a bank.
And that’s just for starters.
O’Connor also has plans for a skateboard shop, juice bar, café, and bistro inside the building, along with a patio to check out the skaters’ chops.
Once he’s got all that done, he plans to renovate and restore the upstairs apartments.
O’Connor has brought in a dream team to help him with the park: Dreamland Skate Parks, of Lincoln City, Oregon, a company founded by a skateboarder, and a crew comprised of the same.
“Choosing Dreamland was a no-brainer for me,” he said. “Who better to understand what skateboarders need and want in a park than other skateboarders?”
He’s also sought out companies that will help him stay true to the building’s legacy. He’s hired architectural firm McCloud & Associates and Hibbard Construction, both of Sterling, to work on the circa-1865 building.
“Preserving the history and architectural style of the building is the main focus here,” O’Connor said. “Otherwise so much of Polo’s past – our past – is lost.”