Citizens Can Make a Difference!
At the July 14th City Workshop and the August 1 and 8 Council/Planning Commission Meetings, citizens spoke out against deficiencies in the Lennar Multifamily Developer proposal backed by the City:
- Too many housing units
- Housing and parking structures too high
- Minimal public green open space
- Inadequate parking, and
- Unacceptable traffic congestion.
Many also questioned placing the hotel on the east side of Livermore Avenue.
The community’s vision of an inspiring development of the 8 acres in the heart of Livermore’s downtown should come first; funding approaches should follow. In contrast, the City has worked to meet developer concerns before those of the citizenry. For a city that has done it right, see Cleveland’s development of its 10 acre Town Square. http://tinyurl.com/NewsHourCleveland
Creating a downtown that delivers what Livermore citizens want makes financing more challenging. (See Financing Options on this web page.) However, with a thoughtful funding strategy, Livermore can create a remarkable City Center that responds to community aspirations, and at the same time, strengthens the City’s economy.
Site Plan Update
For our significantly modified Downtown Development Site Plan, click ->HERE<-
To address citizen concerns, the Community Group realized that the number of residential units must be significantly reduced, allowing for an enlarged, creative Town Square to serve a variety of community needs.
Before listing other benefits of this plan, we want to describe how this change in direction became desirable.
In the summer of 2015, the City made plans to send out its Request for Proposals (RFPs) to developers for the Downtown Development. Many citizens were concerned that the City was moving too fast, not taking input from citizens, effectively limiting citizen feedback.
Led by Chair Bill Dunlop, our organization was formed to help Downtown Livermore become an inviting, cultural and economic center, a point of community pride.
The City said a large amount of housing was needed to pay the costs of the parking and debt owed on the land. The Council chose residential developer Lennar to come up with a plan meeting this objective. In response to the Lennar proposal, the Community Group worked to create some ideas to make the Lennar Plan better. We hoped that we could have a “win/win/win” with the City/Developers/Residents.
However, the City’s July 14 Workshop advanced the Lennar Plan as is. It was evident that the City was more interested in selling the Lennar Plan than soliciting ideas from residents.
On the other hand, the Community Group listened. We are now proposing a revised plan reflecting what the citizens expressed at the Workshop. It will have much less housing, lower roof heights, larger Town Square, youth activity areas, more retail and restaurants along the Town Square, more public parking, private partially underground parking, better traffic patterns, relaxed Wine Country Hotel on the west side of Livermore Avenue, and on the east side, Flexible Meeting Space, an Art Gallery and Science Museum.
The advantages of the West Side Hotel are these:
The focal point of the development becomes the Wine Country Hotel coupled with the Town Square, not a mass of residential units.
- Traffic impacts need to be spread out. If a 135-room Hotel, 300-seat capacity Conference Center (Flexible Meeting Space), Restaurant and Bankhead Theater were all concentrated on the east side, the back-up at the one entrance and exit on Livermore Avenue would be unacceptable.
- The Hotel and Flexible Meeting Space frame the entrance to the City on Livermore Avenue. They and the Bankhead Theater are not jammed back-to-back on the east side.
- The east side now provides an area large enough to accommodate a Flexible Meeting Space with 300 retractable raked seats. It can be used for conferences and banquets, as well as for theater performances and educational events. An Artisan Market, Science Museum and Art Gallery can be included adjacent to the Meeting Space.
In preliminary discussions that we initiated with the owner of Blacksmith Square, the owner indicated he might be willing to explore concepts that could make possible a west side hotel.
For all these concepts, we have again worked with MacCracken Architects, who designed the Bankhead Theater and the buildings surrounding it.