Friday, April 17, 2015

200 Blog Posts and Still Writing

This week’s blog is the 200th post I’ve cobbled together since starting this whole blogging thing on June 23, 2010. It is hard to believe that almost five years have elapsed. My father, a journalist in one of his many past lives, said (paraphrasing), “See, the work of a weekly columnist is hard—it’s almost impossible finding something pithy to say every week.” I can’t disagree, some weeks I get nothing. But, here we are another week and another post. A toast—to my post.

My little burg, Walnut Creek, California is exploding. On a per acre basis there is more development and construction happening in this town than most Bay Area communities can even dream of.

The "New" Broadway Plaza
Currently there are more than a 1000 apartments under construction within and around the city center. There are also numerous projects in the final stages of planning and approval within this same envelope. Soon a massive retail and housing complex at the regional BART transit station, after years of planning, “may” get underway. In the secondary ring, one to two miles out, even more is under construction – case in point a new Safeway retail complex. So much is under construction the city is considering taking a breath and slowing down the approval process.

One of the largest retail projects in the region is the rehabilitation and remodeling of the Macerich Broadway Plaza retail center. This is a $250 million dollar facelift with up to 300,000 square feet of new retail, restaurants, and commercial uses. This will also include new multi-level parking garages and more than 800 new parking stalls. When completed this overall retail mix will be one of the Bay Area’s finest (and toniest) retail destinations.

The city itself recently approved and funded almost a half million dollars worth of downtown improvements. These will include pedestrian upgrades, weekly food and social events, parklets (the new urban fad), and signage and supporting marketing banners.

Every city's, no matter how large or small, greatest concern should be its brand. We all know what happens when this is neglected and falls apart, look at the Detroit brand and the Oakland brand. In fact, look at the whole “rust belt.” It take years, if ever, to recover from a failed urban brand. It is critical that the politicals within a community support in every way they can the developers who are building the housing, the retail, and the commercial uses. Their job is to keep the public side looking good and provide a safe welcoming environment. It takes very few miscues in these days of instant communication to destroy years of hard work.

Here is to looking at 200 more blog posts. There is still much to write about considering the strange world of electric cars, the California train to nowhere, silly urban planning, and the always interesting housing market.

Stay Tuned . . . . . . . .

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