By Robert Haugh
Last night, about 100 residents packed the city council chambers for a Downtown Revitalization Committee meeting.
Many of the attendees were among the 1,800 members of the Facebook group “reclaiming our downtown” co-founded by Santa Clarans Rod Dunham and Dan Ondrasek.
The duo has been working for a year and a half on creating a vision for the 8-block area of Downtown Santa Clara. Among their key elements:
- protecting current businesses and residents,
- creating a walkable downtown area where people can live and work,
- retaining the original street grid of downtown Santa Clara,
- bringing a trolley back to Franklin Street,
- and “creating a place, not a project.”
Over a dozen residents spoke passionately about revitalizing the Downtown area.
For nearly 55 years, the Mission City has been without a downtown area. In a few years, The Related Companies City Place development will be a major gathering place for Santa Clarans and others. But since it’s in the Northside, we should call it “Uptown.” The Old Quad has long been without a central gathering place or a “Downtown.”
Frank Fuller and Heidi Sokolowsky of Urban Field presented a draft vision of downtown revitalization plans.
Santa Clara University has been revitalizing part of Franklin Street and shares many similar concepts to the group pushing for revitalization.
While the attendees were overwhelmingly supportive of revitalizing the Mission City’s Downtown, it’s a long process with many barriers.
There are approximately a dozen different property owners in the area, although several have expressed interest in revitalization efforts. A few residents inquired about costs and financing. There was no information about cost, or who would assemble the land if necessary. The next step is completing the vision plan, then forming a task force. The vision includes adding a new theater/community center (to resemble the original Santa Clara Theater), an new civic gathering place/plaza, a museum reflecting the City’s history, retail, residential and key architectural designs that are a throwback to the original downtown.
If you’re interested, here are some links:
Hosam Haggag’s live feed of last night’s meeting.
Five-minute meeting highlight video by Malcolm High
City of Santa Clara’s downtown revitalization page (it needs some updates)
Video on Downtown Santa Clara revitalization efforts by CBS: