Downtown Plaza

Some good signs so far from the new owners, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, and hopefully, they understand that downtown shopping, eating and such is primarily utilized by government and other downtown workers.

The idea of making downtown a shopping destination for suburbanites means competing successfully with some pretty nice suburban  malls, with free parking and minimal—in comparison to downtown—traffic, and no aggressive panhandling.

We hope they come to understand the importance of seeking strategies to deal with the deadly business-killing triangle of an over-abundance of homeless services in the Richards/12th Street area, the resulting large-scale illegal camping in the North Sacramento area of the American River Parkway, and the Downtown Plaza/K Street Mall area where the homeless congregate, a congregation rising with the building of new SRO housing.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“At Downtown Plaza, it’s come to this: The circus clown has to go.

“In one of the first visible signs that sagging Downtown Plaza is finally getting ready for a face-lift, Andy Swan, a.k.a. Zippy the Clown, has been given his eviction notice.

“For the past 18 months, Swan, a professional clown, has occupied a mall storefront rent-free. Under a somewhat eccentric arrangement with Westfield, the mall’s former owner, Swan crammed a former clothing store with 9,000-plus pieces of elephant memorabilia. It’s not a retail outlet but a collective display, part of his quest for a Guinness world record.

“Now JMA Ventures, the San Francisco developer that bought the struggling mall earlier this summer for a reported $22 million, has told Swan it’s time to pack up his pachyderms.

“Booting the elephant man is one of a handful of small, visible steps JMA has taken since it took possession of the mall in August.

“In its first 100 days, JMA has added new digital signage, installed free Wi-Fi, put in new food court furniture, turned the water fountains back on and reopened the south mall, where Santa Claus is stationed. It has repositioned its security officers and hired new marketing and operations managers. And it’s running a free holiday shuttle through the K Street tunnel into Old Sacramento.

“We’re doing the little things … to rebuild trust with the community,” said JMA President Todd Chapman.

“Less visibly, the company has been “working feverishly” in recent months to start defining what Downtown Plaza’s longer-term makeover will look like, said Chapman. That’s the harder, bigger-picture task.

“On Friday, JMA, the city, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership and the Urban Land Institute kicked off a months-long series of planning sessions that will culminate next summer with a “vision and transformation plan” for Downtown Plaza. No one is saying yet what that vision will be. But there’s renewed enthusiasm among city development officials about Downtown Plaza’s potential.

“They’re engaging the community and city in a very proactive way. … They recognize that to be successful they need to be very thoughtful and really think through the best position for the center,” said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg. “It’s a high-priority project and asset for them, which you couldn’t say about the previous owner.”

“Among some mall employees and tenants, rumors have swirled about potentially glitzy changes, such as topping the open-air mall with a third story or erecting a fancy rooftop roller coaster, visible from nearby Interstate 5.

“But at a recent real estate breakfast meeting in Sacramento, Chapman said it’s too early to speculate about how his firm might alter the physical shape of Downtown Plaza, which occupies a four-block stretch of K Street between Third and Seventh streets. Noting that some portions of the mall are obsolete, he added that all of JMA’s consultants are “struck by the opportunity” the mall presents. “None has said, ‘Let’s get out the bulldozers and (take) the place down.’ “

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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