On 3/7/07 were two significantly important meetings...the first being a Joint Redevelopment Meeting and the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, setting a concrete list of projects for the immediate future. The second, was a RETRAC meeting. First, the Joint Redevelopment meeting.
Thank you to Steve for attending the first meeting at 1:30, and I attended the 6:00 meeting.
Item 1 - Community Assistance Center
Staff broke down the remaining "to do list" to complete the facilities into phase 2A and 2B. Altogether the added facilities will be a triage center (16 beds) with dedicated funding by the two hospitals. a womens center and possibly a family center. Council directed them to start immediately with 2A and to quickly find the other $3.3 million to complete funding for 2B which is expected to also break ground later this year. Overall completion scheduled by end of 2008.
Item 2 - 10 North Virginia Plaza
The rink cover and building are clearly being expedited. Looks like they will choose either option 2 or option 3 on the cover (which you view the details of each option here) (when Zadra, Aiazzi and Gustin report back in a couple weeks) and it appears that they are fast tracking approval of the retail building (hope to have a deal done in 45 days - developer not named - and the building completed before the end of 2008). They want to keep the building at three stories and 26,000 sf because of less complicated, less costly - and quicker - construction.
Item 3 - Parking Structure
Staff projected the cost of a new parking facility including ground level retail at "up to $36.5 million". Did not specify where this structure might be built (Cashell asked them to consider an "addition" to Fitzgeralds garage that continued South across (or above) Commercial Row????). But, their zoom-in video presentation appeared to focus further North but still east of Virginia somewhere around where the new Ballroom is being built.
Item 4 - Retail in Entertainment Core
Staff projected the cost to acquire and develop "1 1/2 to 2 blocks" into new retail, dining and perhaps grocery at "up to $34.8 million" (did not specify which blocks). They were told to proceed with study of alternatives. I wonder which blocks will be targeted?
Item 5 - Beautification
There were MANY comments made on this point. They want to add sidewalk beautification (lights, landscaping, etc.) along various portions of Virginia from as far south as Plumb to as far north as UNR. UNR wants to contribute money to get something done about "their gateway" (couple blocks north of the freeway) and Aiazzi was particularly in favor of getting rid of eyesores like a long boarded up 7-11 store. I second that! They talked about adding lights from Plumb to Liberty. They talked about a "pilot program" to add beautification along Virginia on the block from Mt Rose to Pueblo (sidewalks, lighting, streetscape, Public Art, etc) to demonstrate how good the entire length of Virginia could look. The new redevelopment director (from Stockton) also made a big point about wanting to create some type of Facade Improvement grant program whereby the city will provide an incentive for facade enhancement throughout downtown. That is an AWESOME idea...and to Tom from Wells Avenue Merchant Association's credit, he too suggested Facade Improvement Loans be incorporated into the Wells Ave Master Plan. At the Wells Ave meeting, incentives like zero percent interest loans were discussed to entice business owners to make improvements to their facades. At this meeting, no specifics were given but he seemed to think this was a great way of prodding local businesses to upgrade their property. The entire plan was approved - at least for further study, refined cost estimates and eventual implementation.
Items 6 Post Office
The plan is for the "main" Post Office to be reduced to a much smaller branch facility. Then, they want to attract both a retail and restaurant component into the freed up portion. Staff "thinks" they can buy the facility for $5.5 million (by year end) and then complete the site work (terraces down to river, lower level walkway under Virginia Street connecting west to existing walkway, and converting Mill St. between Post Office and Pioneer Theater to a replacement parking lot) by 2009 for an additional $3.3 million. Council authourized them to proceed with the planned acquisition.
Item 7 Water Park Expansion
Council also authorized staff to proceed with the Eco-Channel which was expected to be started in a month or two and completed THIS YEAR. Council wants all three projects (10 North, Post Office and Eco-channel) completed by 2009