Friday, May 20, 2005

Town Square the latest gem in redevelopment in Downtown Vacaville

Article Launched: 05/20/2005 07:43:23 AM

Celebrating the rebirth

Town Square the latest gem in redevelopment

At last, the bulldozers have gone, the trees have all been planted, the clock tower stands majestic, the fountain is finished and the public is ready to move in and claim Vacaville's sparkling new Town Square.

It has been a long time in coming.

On land that at one time hosted a used car dealership and a host of underused buildings, Vacaville has created a true gem for its downtown atmosphere: a space where people can stop and smell the coffee, enjoy the sunshine, read a book and soak in the downtown landscape.

The project's roots reach as far back as the 1980s, when the city created its redevelopment agency and started pumping millions of dollars into downtown.

Streets were dug up so water and sewer pipes could be upgraded. About $5 million was invested into the newly renamed Carroll Plaza and Ulatis CreekWalk, a series of sidewalks along the bank of Ulatis Creek in Vacaville's historic Andrews Park. Eventually, abandoned buildings were turned into new shops and restaurants.

Land where the town square and Vacaville's new library sits was acquired in 1999. Unfortunately, there were several false starts, with developers pulling out of the projects. Funding became elusive in tough fiscal times.

Finally, in 2003, the first phase of the Town Square project was approved, and the contract was awarded to a local builder. About the same time, work began on the library, which finally opened in January 2005.

Now the stage is set as Vacaville places the final piece de resistance to the downtown puzzle with the inauguration of Town Square.

The history of this lynch pin for downtown's success is told in "Showcase Downtown: Celebrating a Vacaville Renaissance," a 48-page special section you'll find in today's Reporter. In it, you'll read thoughts on the project, its evolution and the hopes and dreams for downtown from Vacaville's mayor, the director of the Vacaville Museum, the president of the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District, the chief executive officer of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, the director of the Vacaville Conference and Visitors Bureau, and more.

Local historians and columnists Jerry Bowen and Sabine Goerke-Shrode collected tidbits of downtown history and old photographs, which we've scattered throughout. You'll also read about some of the longtime businesses developed along Main Street, the city's plans for celebrating its renaissance, and some thoughts from our publisher emeritus.

It all becomes official when the city hosts its dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Whether you come out to observe the fanfare or find your own time to get acquainted with the square, make plans to explore Vacaville's evolving downtown. Celebrate the renaissance.

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