Hope Returns to Vallejo’s Downtown

February 13, 2011
Submitted by:Alex McCart (707/704-4725)
Communications Liaison, Vallejo Main Street

The city of Vallejo had a glimmer of hope this past month that is bound to build some optimism for our neglected  downtown area. Whether you have never heard of Vallejo Main Street, or have not heard about them until recently, you can’t help but be inspired by what took place on January 28th.

Vallejo Main Street, a local public benefit corporation that focuses on revitalizing our struggling Downtown and  Waterfront areas, held the first of what it hopes to be many conferences in which local business owners, community leaders, property owners and concerned citizens spent the day learning more about the California Main Street Association’s proven Four-Point Approach. That discussion was followed by visiting members from neighboring downtown organizations talking about what successes and struggles they have had to overcome.

Amanda Elliot, the Executive Director from Richmond Main Street, spoke about issues that can mirror Vallejo’s  problems. Crime, high vacancy, and building disrepair were all things that needed to be tackled to get their downtown where they wanted it to be. By soliciting local volunteer help they have successfully held cleanup days, street and holiday fairs, and other community-building events.

Grass Valley Downtown Association’s Howard Levine, who came down all the way from the foothills to address the  group, also gave us hope. He talked about how his downtown area was suffering from extremely low occupancy and how they have attracted the right businesses to turn it into that occupancy level into a record high. He also reminded Vallejoans that Vallejo “has good bones” and just needs the right support system. He explained the steps taken in Grass Valley and how those have led to vitality throughout the community.

Rachael Snedecor of Livermore Main Street talked about the award they received after having a dramatic turnaround in their downtown area; you could not help but be inspired. They rerouted a highway that went through their downtown area, inviting more pedestrians to increase foot traffic for local businesses. With the addition of the some creative parking arrangements and curbside dining when weather permits, Livermore’s downtown has become a destination for great shopping and dining.

Downtown San Mateo faced unusual obstacles when they started saving their historic buildings. Competition from neighboring malls diverted shoppers away from their downtown area. Executive Director Rob Edwards introduced some ideas for making Vallejo’s historic past a focus and emphasized the importance of involving the community in our efforts.

These inspiring stories were followed by Vallejo Main Street’s own Robert Briseno talking to people about our “20/$20 Vision”. Robert discussed how Vallejo Main Street can give you 20 things in return for a $20 contribution, and asked the group to complete a brief survey. Some of the 20 items identified by the group include Safety, a Family-and-Business-Friendly Environment, Preservation of Historic Buildings, and More Foot Traffic. The key message conveyed was that Vallejo Main Street needs your support to help us support your interests.

Mr. Briseno will be making presentations about the on 20/$20 Vision this spring. Please call Linda Cook  (707/704-4284) President of Vallejo Main Street to schedule a presentation for your group. We hope to speak to all community and professional organizations (private and non-profit), and will address groups at places of worship, schools, businesses and anywhere else people gather.

The event concluded with roundtable discussions including Historic Preservation, Volunteering and Collaboration. An afternoon spent brainstorming and networking gave us a wealth of information and inspiration from many like-minded people; it was over before we knew it.

The message seemed very clear at the end of the day. Vallejo is alive and well, with a lot of positive people ready to support it. If you’re interested in helping please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Morgan Hannigan (707/704-4474) to discuss how you and your family can get involved in revitalizing Vallejo’s historic downtown.


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