ArchitectureView-Creative Placemaking

ArchitectureView By Bob Barzan

Downtown and Creative Placemaking Something wonderful is happening in downtown Modesto. The community is coming together to create a vibrant neighborhood. The transformation began last year with two successful demonstration parklets at the corner of 10th and J Streets, the installation of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route markers (http://modestocruiseroute.com), and the opening of the Building Imagination Center.

Next was the opening of 10th Street between J and K to vehicles to improve business exposure and enhance vibrancy. The street may still be closed for special events, but its reopening is part of a larger plan that includes the blocks between Modesto Centre Plaza and the future Tuolumne River Regional Park at the foot of 10th Street. Phase three will begin shortly: a remaking of the streetscape between I and J streets with shade trees, art, and beautiful gathering places. All this is part of a multi-faceted effort to revitalize the whole downtown. Soon you will notice transitions on J and other streets. Though physical changes are easiest to see, many other important issues are being addressed: job development, improved parking for cars and bikes, security issues, cultural amenities and retail experiences to draw people into the area, housing, economic incentives, transportation, branding, building restoration, and much more. Many players are involved including the City of Modesto, the Modesto Downtown Improvement District, downtown business and property owners, Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Modesto Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, cultural organizations like the Modesto Art Museum, and citizen groups.

Organizations without a vested interest in Modesto are contributing to our city’s success. Artplace America, aware of our community-wide effort in creative place-making, has committed more than $227,000 in the last 18 months for the revitalization of downtown through the arts. The new Modesto Design District is part of their effort. The Creative Work Fund of San Francisco has committed $17,000 for the production of a movie about Modesto. Other financial commitments are pending. These groups see something in our community worth supporting.

What can you do? For more information about the effort and ways to get plugged in, contact Josh Bridegroom at the City of Modesto (209) 571-5566. Bob Barzan Modesto Art Museum

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