City to look into developing Old Town Plaza site

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  • #176233

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    The City of Elk Grove is looking into developing the Old Town Plaza site where they hold various events near the railroad tracks. What do you think they should do with it?

    http://www.egcitizen.com/articles/2015/06/23/news/doc5589ed556d624091643826.txt

    Chicago Bear/Herd star may get key to the city
    By Bryan M. Gold – Citizen Staff Writer
    Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 4:55 PM PDT
    Elk Grove City Council members on June 24 are scheduled to discuss how they could proceed with developing the Old Town Plaza property on Elk Grove Boulevard.

    One option is to sell a portion of the 4.4-acre parcel just east of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and use that revenue to develop another part of the property.

    Pam Johns, special projects manager for the city, spoke at the Old Town Foundation meeting and at the Elk Grove Trails Committee meeting last month.

    She said current interest from the development community is based on developing the front portion along Elk Grove Boulevard as a retail space. That could put a covered outdoor venue such as a farmers market at the southern end of the property.

    Foundation and committee members suggested taking a different approach by preserving the space facing the boulevard and selling off the southern end or developing that as an office space.

    “I think that the city and the leadership of the city needs to look at this and decide, is this plaza about (money) or is it community?” Foundation Chair Tal Crump said at the organization’s May meeting. “Was it bought for public use, or was it bought for private development?”

    Johns said comments during the outreach effort have included the issue of visibility.

    Trails Committee Chair Mark Doty said motorists would spend a lot of time driving up and down the boulevard if the city’s outdoor area was on the southern end of the property.

    The city purchased the property in 2012 and spent an estimated $937,000 for the property, to conduct environmental site assessments, buy out and remove a billboard, install a fence, and pay title and escrow. They partially funded an ice rink later that year.

    Since then, the property has been used sporadically. Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis hosts a monthly “roundup” of food trucks. The site is also used for events such as the annual Old Town Chili Festival.

  • #283898

    wildoates
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    Call me crazy, but I like it as it is.

  • #283874

    EGL Admin
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    You’re crazy 🙂

  • #283890

    tomwaltman
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    An office building? WTF? Ate people going to walk there? Parking is already an issue, are these people totally lacking I any common sense? Train tracks right next to it. Crickey, people here are not very sharp.

  • #283903

    Aggies49
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    Is this where they have the food truck event every first Wednesday of the month?

  • #283875

    EGL Admin
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    @aggies49 114627 wrote:

    Is this where they have the food truck event every first Wednesday of the month?

    Yes.

  • #283899

    Bainc
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    Glad to see they are looking to keep the public piece near EGB. Moving it back toward Grove would have been an issue with visibility.

  • #283883

    joy
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    @tomwaltman 114626 wrote:

    An office building? WTF? Ate people going to walk there? Parking is already an issue, are these people totally lacking I any common sense? Train tracks right next to it. Crickey, people here are not very sharp.

    Yep.

  • #283884

    LC
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    Will the city sharpen their pencil to keep the costs down and ROI up, much as they did for the library site? [/snark]

  • #283885

    LC
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    Look up “fly swatting” and you’ll see these as good examples:

    Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis hosts a monthly “roundup” of food trucks. The site is also used for events such as the annual Old Town Chili Festival.

    The city needs to go big, or give up on OT. This is a fine site for retail in front, structured parking to the south.Look at OT Placerville, OT Sac, OT Galt, OT Folsom, and what do you see? Parking, abundant parking, and often structured. Without it, no one who draws the people OT needs is going to locate there because no one with money to spend is going to walk OT without 1) convenient parking, and 2) a destination. I’d hope the city that has the ability and is willing to write checks for key tenants, as they should if the ROI pencils, could make a deal with a good restaurant, like Claim Jumper, even Tahoe Joe’s, something along those lines with a brand that draws, and pledge to provide adequate parking for them.

  • #283896

    plasmadrive
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    LC.. hush yo mouth…:sarcastic You get a real draw down in OT and you won’t be able to drive thru there.. kind of like now.. but WAY WAY Worse! There needs to be a much better traffic flow capability down there.. heck, we are already reluctant to head that way cause we might get stuck from a train or someone trying to turn left there at The Italian.

  • #283876

    EGL Admin
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    You can’t change the traffic flow there. It is what it is. I don’t think you can improve that.

  • #283900

    Bainc
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    @EGL Admin 114709 wrote:

    You can’t change the traffic flow there. It is what it is. I don’t think you can improve that.

    One of the biggest challenges with OT EG. EG Blvd is the main thoroughfare in the area so there’s a ton of traffic. Most other old towns in the area aren’t on main through roads (Folsom, Placerville, Auburn, Sac, Roseville, Fair Oaks, etc, etc). But at the same time there are plenty of eyes driving past the businesses in OT EG everyday. It would be nice if we could turn that into an advantage somehow.

    Years ago the city or maybe the county at that point explored putting a RR crossing at Grove street. Then make EG Blvd through old town one-way with two lanes going west and make Grove Street one-way with two lanes going east. However, the Railroad won’t allow another crossing of their right of way so it’s not happening.

  • #283888

    newmom
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    @EGL Admin 114709 wrote:

    You can’t change the traffic flow there. It is what it is. I don’t think you can improve that.

    Adding the ridiculous planter boxes made the traffic flow a lot worse though. Driving through that section literally makes me feel like the buildings are closing in around me.

  • #283901

    Bainc
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    @lc 114706 wrote:

    The city needs to go big, or give up on OT. This is a fine site for retail in front, structured parking to the south.Look at OT Placerville, OT Sac, OT Galt, OT Folsom, and what do you see? Parking, abundant parking, and often structured. Without it, no one who draws the people OT needs is going to locate there because no one with money to spend is going to walk OT without 1) convenient parking, and 2) a destination. I’d hope the city that has the ability and is willing to write checks for key tenants, as they should if the ROI pencils, could make a deal with a good restaurant, like Claim Jumper, even Tahoe Joe’s, something along those lines with a brand that draws, and pledge to provide adequate parking for them.

    I too like the idea of abundant parking. Maybe put a parking structure on the south side of Grove at Railroad. Then encourage infill developments of the parking lots on the north side of EG Blvd at the RR tracks and the lot on the south side of EG Blvd east of School Street. One thing that drives me crazy when I visit OT Elk Grove is the large gaps with no shops including the Old Town Plaza property. Most old towns are fun to walk because there’s a concentration on shops but in Elk Grove it’s spread out with gaps with no shops making it less desirable to walk.

  • #283877

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    @bainc 114712 wrote:

    I too like the idea of abundant parking. Maybe put a parking structure on the south side of Grove at Railroad. Then encourage infill developments of the parking lots on the north side of EG Blvd at the RR tracks and the lot on the south side of EG Blvd east of School Street. One thing that drives me crazy when I visit OT Elk Grove is the large gaps with no shops including the Old Town Plaza property. Most old towns are fun to walk because there’s a concentration on shops but in Elk Grove it’s spread out with gaps with no shops making it less desirable to walk.

    Bingo! That’s been my contention for years. The layout of our old town is not very good. Most old town areas have long stretches of retail, food etc. I’m not she what people define as the old town area. For arguments sake, let’s say on the west it starts at the library and the east it ends around school street. On the north side there is really nothing until Boulevard Bistro then a huge gap until the area by el dorado savings and the little shops then the Brickhouse. Then nothing until you cross the tracks. After that you have a few places, Lola’s. South side isn’t much better. Very sporadic. I think our office has had 1 walk in customer in 11 years. The business that benefits the most from the old town events is embellish because they are right there. The events do nothing for the businesses west of the tracks. Stuff like the Dickens Faire, that’s a joke. It’s vendors selling crap. They need more events down there. Maybe a farmers market, swap meet/flea market, concerts.

    If you had out of town guests and they wanted to see old town I would be embarrassed to take them down there. Any plan has to look at the big picture and the whole area. Like LC said, go big or go home. By go big I think you have to redevelop the whole area.

  • #283889

    newmom
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    We have never taken guests to Old Town. I don’t consider it a destination at all. Boulevard Bistro is a destination, and I take people there-but that’s it. We eat and go home, and there isn’t anything else in Old Town to attract us. There is no “destination” in Elk Grove though. Those Friday vender things were a joke too. We went once and never went back.

  • #283886

    LC
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    @newmom 114714 wrote:

    We have never taken guests to Old Town. I don’t consider it a destination at all. Boulevard Bistro is a destination, and I take people there-but that’s it. We eat and go home, and there isn’t anything else in Old Town to attract us. There is no “destination” in Elk Grove though. Those Friday vender things were a joke too. We went once and never went back.

    See? All the MAs on the planet can’t successfully promote a sow’s ear by adding lipstick. Newmom’s opinion I’m quite sure is reflective of most of our sentiments, and the gaping holes will never leave as long as they are used for parking.

    If it was up to me, I’d hire one person as a consultant. I’d want that person to have a region-wide reputation on redevelopment, and that person, who has forgotten more than most of us know about how to do it right, is cme5. I don’t know if he’s still around, but I’ll bet he wouldn’t disagree with much said here.

    This is probably about a 10 year project, but it has to be just that–a full blown, largely city sponsored project–not a series of band aids that don’t stick.

  • #283878

    EGL Admin
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    Which leads us back to, is it worth it? Is it a good investment? I don’t think it is. If the malls gets built, that area is going to be the focal point of the city. There will be shopping, dining and entertainment.

  • #283887

    LC
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    Old Town Folsom seems to hobble along 😉 And they have a pretty good lifestyle mall that is probably a better destination that some larger covered malls. With a close in population of 150K, I think Old Town *could* work if done with some data based advance planning. No one is going to shop the EG outlets for a fun evening or business lunch.

  • #283879

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    You would need to knock down some buildings to make it work. The existing buildings and infrastructure won’t work. The gaps need to be filled in. Even if you add a parking structure where the plaza is, I don’t think that is enough because there isn’t enough down there to be a destination. As Newmom said, Elk Grove is not a destination, but then how many places in the Sacramento area are? It’s not like anyone outside the area is thinking I am going to go spend the day or part of the day in Sacramento, Folsom or Roseville, unless there is an event there. The stuff they have is just nicer than here. We go to Folsom or EDH just because it’s nicer, less riff raff. We go to the Palladio sometimes for movies, concerts and dinner. It’s really nice, lots of food options in the general area. Our mall won’t be as nice as that, but it could have the same types of things with a movie theater, restaurants, a place for small concerts and events. Maybe other amenities around there.

  • #283893

    kindrlindr
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    OT EG has an identity crisis…….either that or it just overestimates its worth. Its a passageway from the east to west side of town and its ruined by those center curb issues. Traffic is awful. Here’s a thought that might get me killed, but i think they should just knock down all the buildings and make the street wider. :peace2:

  • #283895

    SteveB6509
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    I must admit I am speaking with little knowledge of OT because I never go there (I haven’t been a regular since the brewpub left). However, a couple of thoughts:

    1. Someone mentioned something about making EG Blvd one way and another street parallel to that one way. That makes a lot of sense (and takes care of the street width issue),

    2. The whole idea of an OT bisected by an active rail line is a serious failure. How can you have events where people want to walk back and forth but you need to watch out for trains. If OT were to become successful, how many families would have to worry about their kids due to the trains. A true long-term plan needs to consider the two sides as separate entities. Yes, you can have coordinated events but the train tracks are a problem. I think the West side of OT needs to be sacrificed and called something else with a focus of OT being the East side.

  • #283880

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    Most all of the events are on the east side now at the plaza. There isn’t enough on the east side though either to really do anything with. a handful of shops. #1, the street idea won’t work as Bainc said because the railroad won’t allow it. Also you can’t build an overpass there. If you did it would bypass all of old town to build it. Look at the Grantline overpass and how much ground that covers. Going under it would be just as problematic. Maybe we have to face the fact that it is what it is and there really isn’t much that can be done to improve it. You can build a parking structure there and have a nice restaurant, but that isn’t going to revitalize OT. Parking is an issue, but there isn’t much down there to draw people to park anyway. The monthly food truck things do nothing for the area. It’s hurts the local restaurants. We went to Lola’s one time during the food truck event and it was practically empty. The events draw people to Old Town, but who benefits from that? It has no impact on the west side of the tracks. Embellish reaps the most benefit from it and the other shop or two down there. No one else gets anything from it. The food trucks benefit and the citizens like it, because they like to overpay for food out of a truck. 🙂

  • #283882

    bevone
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    @kindrlindr 114720 wrote:

    OT EG has an identity crisis…….either that or it just overestimates its worth. Its a passageway from the east to west side of town and its ruined by those center curb issues. Traffic is awful. Here’s a thought that might get me killed, but i think they should just knock down all the buildings and make the street wider. :peace2:

    The fact that these old buildings are firetraps seem to be taking care of knocking down buildings. Wasn’t it the Elm that burned the other day?

  • #283894

    kindrlindr
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    🙁 It’s sad bev…..I LOVE old town areas, but EG just seems to be losing its purpose, not like other old towns. You can’t really go there for anything. Parks draw visitors. But safety wouldn’t allow for that. What in the world can be done? I think you are right, Doc. I don’t think much can be done to improve it.

  • #283902

    Bainc
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    If there was ample parking in a garage off Grove and Railroad you could eliminate some of the on street parking on the narrow part of EG Blvd and make the street a little wider but not enough for two lanes each way. Then develop the existing surface parking lots to OT is continuous. Just some ideas.

  • #283897

    plasmadrive
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    OT EG just wasn’t made for crowds and high volume traffic. It has been a cluster ever since the Rocket Scientist at the city decided to spend all that money to “improve” the street.. No one likes it that I know of.. Was just a waste of $$$$ Not sure there really is any way to make it work with the structures that are there and the RR tracks right thru it.. I don’t have the experience like LC…. But from the cheap seats.. I just don’t see it working..

  • #283881

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    An update on this topic. The City has decided to go ahead and proceed with possibly developing the front part of the parcel. I think naming some part of it after Sarah Johnson would be a very nice touch. She was instrumental in everything that happened in Old Town.

    http://www.egcitizen.com/articles/2015/07/07/news/doc55958e2e55490262578707.txt

    City Council is all aboard developing Old Town Plaza

    By Bryan M. Gold – Citizen Staff Writer
    Published: Thursday, July 2, 2015 12:54 PM PDT
    Elk Grove City Council members on June 24 directed staff to proceed with developing a part of the Old Town Plaza property on Elk Grove Boulevard.

    Council members want to develop as public space at the northern part of the 4.6-acre parcel, just east of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The city could then sell the southern part and use that revenue to develop the northern section.

    “There is definitely significant value in bringing the community together on that piece,” Council Member Darren Suen said.

    Other options include selling the entire parcel for private development, developing the property solely for public use, or leasing some of the land for private or public use.

    Pam Johns, special projects manager for the city, spoke at the Old Town Foundation meeting and at the Elk Grove Trails Committee meeting in May.

    She told Council members that current interest from the development community is based on developing the front portion along Elk Grove Boulevard as a retail space. That could put a covered outdoor venue such as a farmers market at the southern end of the property.

    Foundation and committee members suggested taking a different approach by preserving the space facing the boulevard and selling off the southern end or developing that as an office space.

    Johns told Council members that public comment included concern about visibility if the public space was in the rear or southern end of the property.

    “What we look at when we put an event on is that front parcel is very significant from a visibility standpoint,” Foundation Chair Tal Crump said.

    Council members said parking is a big issue in Old Town.

    City Public Affairs Manager Kristyn Nelson said about 1,300 people attended the Boots on the Boulevard concert on the property in May, but there was still quite a bit of parking available at the plaza.

    The city purchased the property in 2012 and spent an estimated $937,000 for the property, to conduct environmental site assessments, buy out and remove a billboard, install a fence, and pay title and escrow. They partially funded an ice rink later that year.

    Since then, the property has been used sporadically. Mayor Gary Davis hosts a monthly “roundup” of food trucks. The site is also used for events such as the annual Old Town Chili Festival.

    “I think that parcel is being utilized in the way that it should be utilized and continue to be utilized,” Vice Mayor Pat Hume said.

    Davis said Sarah Johnson, who passed away in May, was one of the first activists he met in Elk Grove.

    He said she said then that the city needed to get moving on the plaza, and Davis said at the meeting that he would like a part of the plaza named after Johnson.

  • #283892

    violarose
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    My relatives just left, and we had a wonderful time at home. We needed to stay home, but there is no where in E.G. I wanted to show my Aunt. Not one. I would of taken her to Old Sac if we had time, but thats it.

  • #283891

    tomwaltman
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    You could have showed her the beautiful steel sculpture off of West Stockton.

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