Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vacaville plans development to complement downtown

Printed on: Sun, Jan 28, 2007

Vacaville plans development to complement downtown
By Ian Thompson

VACAVILLE - Vacaville's Redevelopment Agency is slowly gathering land around Catherine Street with plans to turn the four-block area into a mixed-used extension of the city's downtown.

"It's an exciting project," Vacaville Redevelopment Director Cynthia Johnston said of turning the low hill between East Main and Mason Street into a pedestrian-friendly mix of offices, retail and housing "that would complement the downtown."

The area is a collection of older single-family homes and businesses where the agency has slowly purchased parcels since 1999, according to Johnston.

The agency wants to build Opportunity Hill as an extension of its campaign to revive the city's downtown area and serve as a more inviting eastern gateway.

The agency has purchased 26 properties during the past several years and is negotiating with the owners of a half-dozen more, according to Johnson.

More recently, it showed its plans to several community and business groups to get their input as to what the agency should consider putting there.

"So far, things have been positive and we are still looking for input," Johnston said.

The Redevelopment Agency took another step forward with its plans Tuesday night when the Vacaville City Council approved plans to buy two more parcels and move the homeless shelter on Catherine Street.

Under the agreement, the Opportunity House homeless shelter would be moved to a site on Brown Street where a 24-bed shelter would be built. In return, the city would get the Catherine Street site.

The council also approved buying both 140 Depot Street and 150 Depot Street for a total of $978,000.

While the two sites are outside of the area planned for Opportunity Hill, they could be used either in a land swap with property owners in the project area, become part of an expanded project or become a separate project.

Johnston expects the proposal to gel more sometime within the year once the negotiations for the remaining needed properties are wrapped up.

It will be up to the City Council to decide more specifically what mix of businesses and residential development it wants there as well as whether there will be a master developer or not.

The agency will also have to study the area's sewer and water infrastructure to determine if that needs to be improved to handle the potential development.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at
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