Monday, January 30, 2006

Aiming for Improvement

Aiming for Improvement
New Board Shares Ideas for Revamped Downtown Area
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Making downtown Vacaville the heart of the community is the mission of the Downtown Vacaville Improvement District, or DVBID, according to the group's executive director, Bob Vollmer.

The DVBID is comprised of more than 450 members, and works to enhance, promote and preserve the downtown.

The Reporter spoke with Vollmer, along with six newly elected members to the DVBID's board of directors, about what issues are priorities for the group, and what they hope to accomplish in the coming year.

Betty Lucke, of The Otter Nature Store, characterized downtown as an ideal environment for small business owners, because people know one another and work together.

Lucke explained that her primary concern with DVBID relates to her role as chairwoman of the Middle Earth Festival.

"But," she said, "I'm also hoping that this year we get more of our committees functional - some have been already, but that's not across the board."

One committee Lucke hopes will increase its efforts is marketing.

"I would like to see the retailers cooperate more, too. Not that they haven't been cooperating, but continue to work together to bring people downtown," she explained. " A lot of people don't know there is a downtown."

The DVBID intends to change that, Vollmer said.

"One of the big things we're looking to do is to market downtown," he explained. "We're re-dedicating our committees to focus more on marketing and economic restructuring, getting more businesses involved, and design."

Those are also the committees that Lynda Hinds, of the Attic Gallery, particularly hopes will become more effective.

Hinds, who opened her eclectic furniture shop downtown last May, said, "I love being a part of downtown." Though she would like what she characterized as "prime real estate" to have a greater density of retail stores.

"Personally, I would like to see more shops and boutiques, and things that bring people down here, walking," she remarked, and referenced events including concerts, farmers markets and festivals.

"DVBID is working toward sponsoring more events," Hinds noted.

Vollmer confirmed that the group will organize 60-plus Town Square performances and events in the coming year, ranging from Shakespeare to music and art.

"I'm for anything that makes downtown a more desirable place to come," said Wendy Jackson, of Jackson Medical Supply.

Jackson explained that she feels it's important for business owners to be involved with the DVBID.

"We're trying to get more business owners involved, even the ones on the outskirts of downtown - their voices need to be heard," she said.

For example, Jackson noted, "One of the issues I have is parking - in my case for customers who tend to have mobility problems."

Parking is also the primary issue that concerns Joe Lopez Jr., the third-generation owner of Barber Joe's.

"Our parking is a problem and the DVBID is the only voice we have with the city to alleviate the problem," he said.

Lopez also admitted he'd like to see "the marketing of the downtown as a destination place in itself, rather than each individual business as the destination."

He believes that's best accomplished by procuring a balanced mix of uses and businesses downtown.

As does Bonnie Rodda, board president of the non-profit organization that runs Yellow Brick Road.

"I'd really like to see all businesses marketed," she said, which is one of the main reasons she decided to get involved with the board.

Rodda added, "We'd like to see other things coming into downtown - more retail, gift stores."

Cindy Anderson, of United Glass, concurs.

"I'd like to see more retail shops downtown - a lot more," she said, and noted that the area has improved in recent years, in part due to improvements the city's made, such as the creation of the Town Square and the new library.

"It's nice to see it come back, with all the revamping," she said. "I remember when I was a kid, you'd get your allowance and go spend it downtown. It was fun - you'd spend all day downtown."

Amanda Janis can be reached at

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