Fremont street

Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience features a four-block canopy that turned the area into a large pedestrian mall. Dennis Cook thinks Manhattan could do something similar in Aggieville.

He knows it might sound a little out there, but Dennis Cook wants officials to consider putting a roof over Aggieville.

More specifically, Cook, the Aggieville Business Association director, wants to put some kind of covering over the street on the two blocks of Moro Street between Manhattan Avenue and 11th Street. The hope is that it would allow Aggieville to have more live music events, with less concern about the volatile Kansas weather.

He said he was sitting on the task force the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce formed recently to look for ideas to recoup the loss from Country Stampede, which this year moved to Topeka. The task force was talking about music concerts and venues.

“The idea came back to me, ‘What if we just covered Aggieville?’” he said. “The idea’s not so crazy. You wouldn’t have to go out and buy land. Wouldn’t have to acquire anything. We’re going to do redevelopment anyhow.”

Cook said he could see Manhattan creating something like Fremont Street in Las Vegas, which made its former downtown into a pedestrian mall covered by a permanent four-block, barrel-vaulted canopy. A light show plays on the underside of the canopy.

Another attraction is the zip line that goes over the mall, which is a feature Cook thinks Aggieville could have, too.

Cook said he shared the idea at one of the task force meetings. “Everybody just said, ‘You know, that’s a game-changer.’”

He said the roof idea may have come up previously in the Aggieville Community Vision meetings, but it wasn’t something they thought would get traction, so it didn’t come up publicly. Now they’re looking at it again, Cook said.

The community vision plan is an ongoing initiative to update the Aggieville district. The city government in May authorized the design firm Olsson to begin creating designs for the streets near where the new public parking garage will be built south of Rally House and where the new hotel will be built at 12th Street and Bluemont Avenue.

The design will include sidewalk widening, lighting, seating, landscaping, and temporary and/or permanent plazas.

Right now the idea for the roof over Moro Street is just talk. Cook said he’s not a designer, so he doesn’t know what the covering would look like or cost. It could be rounded like Fremont Street’s, or it could be pitched like the roof of a house (though he prefers the dome-shaped option).

“It’s 60 feet from building front to building front on Moro Street,” he said. “So something that would span that width. My idea was mostly just as you go forward with this Aggieville vision, what better way to do that than guarantee you’re not going to be rained our or bake in the 100-degree sun. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be hot, but it would be considerably nicer underneath.”