The East Campen Street area in downtown Wendell has been transformed from an unassuming back-of-house zone for a block of small businesses to a flexible event and parking space where people are excited to congregate.
The flagship business on East Campen Row are the Bearded Bee Brewery, a small dance studio, and Perry’s Gun Shop. The site is unusual because one half of the property is owned by Perry’s Gun Shop and the other half is railroad right-of-way. The Town of Wendell has a long-term lease on both areas and made the investment on the improvements.
At the start of the project, East Campen Street was primarily functional, with places to park and to load and unload delivery vehicles. It was not designed for people to pass through, which meant it lacked safety and accessibility features for people who did. These deficiencies were exacerbated by significant drainage and erosion problems stemming from inadequate stormwater management.
The Wendell Comprehensive Plan identified this area as the site of a future pedestrian connection. In addition, the Town wanted to create a public space to host events like concerts, food truck rodeos, and farmer’s markets. The site design therefore needed to incorporate ADA accessibility and pedestrian accommodations while still allowing businesses to operate effectively around the perimeter of the block.
WithersRavenel designed a wide streetscape across the front of the Bearded Bee Brewery where before there had been nothing but gravel. An accessible sidewalk to the south fulfilled the pedestrian throughfare vision laid out in the Comprehensive Plan and opens the area to visitors regardless of ability. The entrances to East Campen row can be easily closed off to create a safe spot for events, and benches, bike racks, and trash receptacles keep the area tidy and comfortable.
There are parking spaces for food trucks, golf carts, electric vehicles, and standard vehicles available throughout the week when events are not taking place. Spaces designed for dumpsters and loading bays have been reinforced with heavy-duty pavement that will withstand the effects of hard use. Green space and street trees provide shade and reduce the heat island effect on parking areas.
Artist Matthew Wiley, from the Good of the Hive project, painted a mural on the back wall of Perry’s. The honeybees in the artwork are a nod to the Bearded Bee Brewery and will become part of Wiley’s quest to add 50,000 honeybees to installations around the world.
The small businesses of East Campen Row are already seeing the benefits of this improved space, and the community looks forward to converting a nearby abandoned building into an open-air market in the future. This project has become the spark of revitalization in downtown Wendell, and it has attracted people from all walks of life. In fact, if you drop into the Bearded Bee on a Saturday night, don’t be surprised to run into the mayor herself!
There are more than 100 registered golf carts in downtown Wendell. That's why we created golf cart-sized parking spaces along this new streetscape.