Livermore Citizens Converge On A Unified Vision For Downtown

Abridged Press Release (467 words)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2017
Contact: David Kent
davidbkent@me.com

Livermore Citizens Converge On A Unified Vision For Downtown

Artist Rendering of citizen-generated Unified concept showing a hotel and affordable housing with interchangeable locations (below).

(Livermore) – Concerned citizens from the ranching, scientific, winegrowing, business and performing arts communities have united around a vision for the development of an 8.2 acre site at the heart of downtown Livermore. Their “Unified” concept captures the needs of the community and celebrates the rich and complex 220-year cultural heritage of Livermore as the community diversified from early California ranching to winegrowing, national laboratories, technology start-ups, hospitality and the performing arts.

This new Unified concept was submitted at the end of a six-month community outreach process. It marks a unique collaboration amongst the area’s stakeholders and is guided by three unifying principles: 1) Design the downtown for future generations; 2) Repay the $14.5 million that was borrowed from the City’s affordable housing fund to purchase the site; and 3) Take no side (pun intended) on which corner to build the hotel on – east or west. If the hotel were to be built on the Eastside where a Speedy Lube currently stands, affordable housing could be built on the corner of L Street and Railroad. If the hotel were to be built on that Westside corner, formerly occupied by a Train Depot, as much workforce housing as possible could be built on the parking lot adjacent to the Bankhead.   The City Council is urged to study the pros and cons of both options and make a timely decision.

The Unified concept hinges on a proposal by the Livermore Stockmen’s Rodeo Association that could allow the City to build significant amounts of affordable housing outside the downtown area in exchange for naming rights to a new central park. A Stockman Park and Plaza will celebrate the community’s rich heritage and provide an ideal location for a bronze monument honoring our local ranchers and veterans. The proposal could generate in the range of $5 million dollars that would be used to repay current city debt on the downtown land. Affordable workforce housing to be built elsewhere on the site could generate up to $9 million, retiring more debt. A boutique hotel is expected to contribute half a million dollars and the sum total of all three of the aforementioned land uses could conceivably retire the entire $14.5 million debt, not leaving any for future generations to repay.

The Unified design builds on the success of Blacksmith Square, a much loved mixed use gathering space on the corner of Livermore and Railroad Avenues that also embodies the cultural heritage of the area. Several “Westside” design concepts feature a four-story, 125-room hotel surrounding this single-story square on both sides, thereby isolating it from the rest of downtown. Under the Unified concept Blacksmith Square is expanded to include an upscale steakhouse, additional artisan shops and galleries. They would contribute to, and be energized by, vibrant and engaged pedestrian traffic flowing to and from First Street. For more information on downtown merchants, please contact Rachael Snedecor at rachael@livermoredowntown.com

Stockman Park is envisioned as a shady and expansive village green capable of hosting a wide variety of civic events programmed around Rodeo Week, Harvest Wine Festival, Art Walks, and diverse cultural programs, such as Cinco de Mayo, to name just a few. An outdoor concert stage will enhance the visitor experience and be a catalyst for enlarged community participation. Artisan shops will border Stockman Park and all key elements radiate from a centrally located Plaza. Shaded space for pop-up concessions and gourmet food trucks is provided along with ample diagonal parking on new cross streets that improve access, community policing and traffic flow. For more information on the Stockmen’s Rodeo Association please contact Dave Finster Jr. at davefinsterjr@aol.com

A key element of the Unified Vision is to provide space for a privately funded 150-seat “Black Box” theatre. A Black Box theatre is a simple structure with lighting and staging that are adaptable to a variety of performances, and that allows for highly interactive audience experiences. Modular, flexible and innovative staging options can be tailored to each performance type. This theatre, which is much smaller and less traditional than the 500-seat Bankhead, will provide an opportunity for young, new and diverse voices to find a starting place and become a natural part of the city’s arts ecosystem. It will be housed in a building that supports the outdoor events with sound, lighting and public restrooms. For more information on creating a cultural core in downtown please contact Lisa Tromovitch at Lisa@LivermoreShakes.org

Another privately funded cultural asset, the Livermore Science and Society Center, enters from Stockman Plaza and rises above a new parking lot behind Blacksmith Square. This center would be dedicated to helping our entire community understand the science behind issues that affect us all and it will draw upon a wide range of science, technology and the arts. Topics such as climate and weather; health and bionics; sustainable and biodynamic agriculture; astronomy and space exploration; ancestry and human migration would be explored in ways that all ages and educational backgrounds can enjoy.  Just as Blacksmith Square is a visual representation of Livermore’s cultural heritage, the new Science Center will be a window into our future.  For more information on the Science and Society Center please contact Alan Burnham at akburnham@yahoo.com

Each Unified concept element is integrated with the others to create a vibrant downtown core. The individuals and organizations that collaborated to bring this concept to the forefront have already pledged more than a million dollars in private donations for the cultural assets. The team wants to expand this collaboration to all stakeholders in the community and welcomes their ideas.  Many prominent citizens and the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, Livermore Shakespeare Festival and Livermore Stockmen’s Rodeo Association have already endorsed this vision and more are expected to do so in the following weeks. To learn how you can participate please contact David Kent at davidbkent@me.com

Supporters of the Unified concept believe it’s time for Livermore to look forward to the kind of future we want for our children and commit to a vision that brings the community together and provides space and opportunity for future generations to celebrate our diverse heritage.

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