Race: Imagine it

Consultant Bruce Race was back in town this afternoon to present to a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission an overview of the waterfront master plan he’s writing.

On a chair was a handout the Revitalization Department’s Kitty Walker described as “our vision statement,” and it included drawings of what Race said Stockton could look like in 2035. From the handout:

The North Shore Neighborhood has evolved around the iconic Iron Works industrial complex – now a national renown artist gallery and live-work beehive. The water tower sports the Iron Works logo and rests in a small park lined with townhouses and shops.

Fremont Park is a popular residential neighborhood for downtown workers. Apartments, lofts and live-work townhouses edge the park. A commercial mixed-use project faces MLK Plaza. The restaurants on the north side of the park provide a local watering hole for residents.

The waterfront has become the defining image and lifestyle element for the neighborhoods on the west side of downtown. Residents have parks, fishing piers, and marina facilities nearby. The promenade and overlooks connect adjacent areas to the water’s edge and provide access to views of maritime, port and natural features.

Visitors use guest docking facilities, hotels and event spaces to play and party on the water. Stockton’s Asparagus Festival has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Over 160,000 people attended the 2035 event flooding downtown and the waterfront with visitors. The Waterfront’s hotel and boat berths were booked a year in advance. Restaurants and galleries saw a 50% boost in sales the week of the festival.

In the audience was Grupe Investment Co. Inc. President Kevin Huber, who asked about money.

“All the pro formas run a gap,” Race said. “It’s going to be underwritten. We know that.”

But the waterfront plan is a 25-year plan, he said, and the market in that time will rebound.

“This is real,” Race said.

One real waterfront development is a proposal to build a state Department of Motor Vehicles office on city-owned land south of the channel. The council last year adopted a one-year exclusive negotiating rights agreement with Panattoni Development Co. of Sacramento for the site.

But the talk today of mixed-use development and open space included no mention of a DMV, and Vice Mayor Kathy Miller asked, “How does that fit into this plan?”

Walker said, “It doesn’t.”

However, she said, staff is working with the developer to make it fit the best it can.

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