Saturday, December 29, 2007

Downtown Development

SN&R takes a look…

Out with the old
Happy 53rd birthday, downtown redevelopment
By Cosmo Garvin

In March of this year, Mayor Heather Fargo gave a big speech, her annual “State of the Downtown” presentation. I just re-read it, wanting to see what was on her to-do list for 2007.

It was about what you’d expect: revitalizing the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street with upscale shopping, moving the Greyhound station, and seeing the Downtown Plaza reinvigorated.

“We will go over, under, and straight through obstacles to get this done. Period,” she explained.

She could re-use the speech next year, since that stuff didn’t get done. Period. Maybe she could use some of the same filler, too, as when Fargo riffed on being a baby-boomer mayor in a maturing city. “Did you know that David Bowie turned 60 on Monday?” she asked.

“No,” I thought. Then I thought about my mom, who loves David Bowie.

Sacramento mayors have been giving some version of this same speech about downtown—perhaps without the references to aging rock stars—for more than 50 years now.

That’s because Sacramento’s attempt at downtown redevelopment is a baby boomer, too, just like my mom, and my mayor, and David Bowie.

What today we call the “Merged Downtown Redevelopment Project Area” was born in 1955, the same year that Disneyland opened, and the first McDonald’s. It’s since grown to cover 300 acres, including, of course, K Street and the rail yards. It’s blown through more than $300 million in its long life.