Downtown Redding’s on the Move and Public Safety is Buzzing on Social Media

Things continue to look up in downtown Redding, where change is in the air and on the ground.

To wit: Escrow has closed on the Americana Lodge, and the Market Street property, which had long served as the poster child for distressed downtown hotels, is now in the capable hands of developer Jamie Lynn.

Lynn stepped in last October after Chico-based Hignell Companies—which spent close to a year pursuing plans to transform the Americana into an apartment complex before declaring the project financially unfeasible—dropped out.

Pending renovation of the Americana Lodge will be a boost for downtown. Photo by Jon Lewis.

Lynn earlier announced plans to renovate the Americana and keep it as a hotel. He also indicated a portion of the project could become student housing, perhaps thinking of nursing and dental hygiene students studying at the nearby Shasta College Health Sciences Center as well as students attending the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

Also percolating along is the joint effort by K2 Land and Development, the McConnell Foundation and the city to use a $20 million affordable housing grant from the state to raze the California Street parking structure and replace it, in part, with a four-story housing, retail and office project.

The so-called Net Zero Affordable Housing Project would replace the northern third of the parking structure. It would also include widening the alley between California Street and the Market Street Promenade to allow for some retail and outdoor dining uses.

The City Council approved the grant application in December and awards from the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities program will be announced in June. The city also is seeking a $4.4 infrastructure infill grant to help fund construction of a 220-space, multi-level, mixed-use private and public parking garage between Butte and Yuba streets.

K2, of course, is the same developer already working on replacing the shuttered Dicker’s department store with a four-story mixed-use building.

The new Fratelli’s pizza parlor (formerly Angelo’s) was the venue for last week’s “Past & Futures of California Street” program that, fittingly, explored California Street’s often colorful past and gave residents, business owners and other stakeholders a chance to ponder the street’s future.

Downtown resident and Shasta Historical Society member Michael Kuker and Winter Fox Frank, with Local Indians for Education, used archival photos and newspaper clippings to document how California Street evolved over the years and the role in played in Redding’s development.

Rachel Hatch, the McConnell staffer in charge of foundation’s community vitality program, shared the organization’s vision for a bike-themed café and depot at the historic Bell Rooms site, Meanwhile, across California Street, tentative plans call for the demolition of the former police station (while preserving the iconic green doors) and transforming the small warehouses into homes for a farmers’ market, art co-ops and other community-directed uses.

Your opinion, please

The city has tapped into social media in order to solicit opinions on public safety, and a recent survey on the city’s Facebook page drew responses from 1,150 people. Some 526 of those, or 46 percent, listed themselves as “somewhat dissatisfied” with the state of public safety. Another 195 checked the “dissatisfied—I’m moving the first chance I get” box. A mere 3 percent said they’re satisfied and another 35 percent considered themselves somewhat satisfied.

More jail beds, mental health services and eradicating illegal encampments were the three areas most respondents selected as targets for the city’s resources.

Help is on the way

City Manager Barry Tippin is scheduled to report on the survey during Tuesday’s council meeting. Also on the agenda: a decision on whether to accept a donation of $145,000 a year for four years to pay for an additional police officer. The Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and the Redding Tourism Marketing Group (Hotel operators on Hilltop Drive and surrounding areas) are offering the money.

In a related move, the Redding Rancheria recently announced a $200,000 donation to the District Attorney’s Office to fund a “community prosecutor” that would focus on property theft, drug possession and illegal camping offenses.

“A Community Prosecutor definitely does not solve the problem, but it is a key link in the criminal justice chain. We still need to work on jail space, diversionary programs, assistance programs, and more.  But I, for one, will take a brief moment to thank the Rancheria and feel good about the progress,” Tippin said in a prepared statement.

A final note

Redding Fire Chief Gerry Gray, who is perhaps as comfortable with social media as any administrator in town, took to Twitter to share his decidedly dim view of the erroneous missile alert that rocked Hawaii on Saturday morning.

“Zero tolerance for such gross mistakes in emergency management,” Gray tweeted. “It erodes public confidence in official communications for all of us, possibly during the most critical times.”

The errant alert, warning of a ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, instructed islanders to seek immediate shelter. “This is not a drill,” the message added. A Hawaii Emergency Management Agency staffer had selected the wrong option from a drop-down menu and sent thousands into a panic. Unfortunately, there was a 38-minute gap between the initial alert and a subsequent text stating the warning was a mistake.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at [email protected].
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28 Responses

  1. Thank you, Jon, for this column. You just gave me another reason to love Mondays.

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    Ditto to Doni’s comment. Mondays with Jon, Thursdays with Doni, Saturdays with Robert, Occasionally with the Mistress, Now and Then with Femme, Frequently with R.V. – great ways to start our days. Thanks, Jon, and to all of the columnists and commenters.

    • Thank you, Beverly. You’re such an awesome cheerleader.

      When it comes to talent on, we really do have an embarrassment of riches. And to expand on your list, we also publish Chris Fontana’s outstandingly accurate weekly weather coverage, and Hal Johnson’s live music line-up each Wednesday. And then we feature periodical columns by Hal Silliman in Modoc County, Don Williams’ “Once Upon a Brew Pub” from Montana and Deb Segelich’s column from Scotland. Here in the north state, we have have Dr. Patty Bay’s “Therapy in a Nutshell”, Dr. Greg Greenberg’s “The G Spot”, Doug Mudford’s “Reflections in a Mirror While Shaving”, Marge Beck’s insurance column, and Adrienne Jacoby’s “Just Sayin’ ” and occasional stories by Candace Brown, opinion pieces by Dugan Barr and Steve Towers humor pieces by Hollyn Chase.

      Plus, there’s the visually inspirational Photo Cafe, where regulars like Jim Dowling, Matt Grigsby, Dave Bogener and Joanne Snyder delight us with their incredible photography skills.

      And guess what? There’s a new columnist returning to who’ll officially start on Jan. 26, but she’ll introduce her column tomorrow.

      But what really sets apart is you – and the tens of thousands of other readers – who comment, participate and donate.

      I feel so grateful!

  3. Not a fan of the low income housing at the Placer and California Street site – lack of parking could kill some of the nearby business and create more problems than it solves. A little too central and could draw people away from this side of town, even more, I believe. Americana location would be better, and another “bike” idea – for all the money spent on bike lanes, it’s a joke how many people actually use them.They are all over the street (crossing or in the middle) and on sidewalks. Wonder where the parking will be for the new Wilda’s?

  4. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    Perhaps Bethel should investigate doing some real missionary work right here in Redding rather than overseas. Establish a medical and mental health clinic and a “work for housing”plan by cleaning up homeless camps, trails etc.

    • Jay Farquhar says:

      Bethel already contributes 45-60 people every week to doing local work such as cleaning up Henderson Space or burning blackberry piles by the Sacramento River Trail. They are very committed to helping Redding.

    • Joanne says:

      Great idea Chuck !

  5. Patricia Bay says:

    Thank you, Jon, for an informative article. As a downtown business owner, it was very interesting. I deeply appreciate reading news that leaves out the derisive political commentary. Even more so, I love reading news about our local community. Thank you!!!

  6. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    You missed one of the most important elements of the Downtown Plan; opening up Market Street to thru traffic. Until this happens, downtown will remain a snarled mess that most people avoid, if they can. Traffic is the lifeblood of commerce, and the Promenade is a clogged aorta. Opening it up could help revitalize the area.
    Public safety remains the big problem, tho. It will be interesting to see whether the City Council rebuts the findings of the survey, like they did the $tudy they paid for.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I often hear the canard about masses of residents avoiding downtown Redding at all costs. I’m acquainted with maybe a couple hundred Redding-area residents, and I don’t know of a single person who avoids downtown because of the traffic and circulation issues. The circulation pattern is far from ideal, but downtown’s issues go way beyond the “snarled mess.”

      I’m not saying I’m against opening the pedestrian portion of Market Street to traffic, but I doubt it’s a panacea any more than taking the roof off the mall was a panacea.

    • Market Street will be opened down to Yuba as part of the K2 project at the old Dicker’s building. From what I hear, the property owners of the buildings on the west side of Market between Yuba and Placer are the only obstacle in putting it all the way through. (The buildings on west side of the 1600 block of Market were extended into the street right-of-way as part of the Downtown Mall project.)

    • K. Beck says:

      Seems to me if they open Market Street AND take away all the parking, downtown will still be a mess.

      I am one of those who only goes downtown sporadically because it is worse driving there than it is driving in SF. At least in SF the one way streets make sense! I never go there just to have a meal, and have never gone there to “shop.”

  7. conservative says:

    When K-Mart closes in April, I would like to see Costco buy that property and some of the neighboring stores . Cypress and I-5 is the first place many visitors to Redding see. That strategic location would be better without the 99 Cent store, a paint store etc.

    The last time I donated at Blood Source on Larkspur, the doors were locked. Donors had to buzz to be let in. A new Costco would be a catalyst for the whole area, like Lowe’s and the new Safeway did.

    • K. Beck says:

      The “K-Mart shopping area” is another place I never go in Redding. What a weird place!

      Costco has already chosen where they want to be, I doubt they will change their minds at this point. No matter the neighborhood uproar. Easy access off the freeway is better at their presumed “new location.”

      I am sorry about all the job losses. Retail in Redding is on the downside, as it is in most other locations. Sears and Macy’s are hanging by a thread, too.

  8. Darcie says:

    Great coverage!

  9. Russell K. Hunt says:

    The Shasta Cascade Vunderland Association is not donating anything to the City. It is general fund money the City of R. generates from the motel tax. NOW TIME FOR REALITY. When PERS rolls back their investment rate to 6% this week, the City will have to seize all of the T.O.T. just to pay the additional $ 5 million in retirement costs. Pure propaganda by the association.

  10. Common Sense says:

    Great Work Jon, as always! Downtown is slowly turning the corner….now onto Public Safety issues!

    Very unfortunate that the Shasta County Board of Supervisors have turned down Millions of Dollars over the next few years that could have been put to good use in areas such as Jail Space, Mental Health services and extra Deputies! Just Say No to 64 Comes at a Steep Cost. No Tax money, No State Grants…and No State Money from the taxes on Prop 64 Receipts!

    Perhaps our local County Officials could Explain how they plan to get money to fix the Overwhelming Concerns for Public Safety and Extra Jail Space??

  11. Bob says:

    Good going Lou! You will always hold a special place in journalism! Someday, when you have some free time, consider a Herb Caen type column. Since the Record Searchlight dumped it’s weekly “The Scene”, it would be a great addition!

  12. Toni C. Perkins says:

    Wonderful column about the positive things happening in Redding. I admit to conflicted opinions on some of the projects, but believe we must support new business efforts to bring about positive change for our city. One topic that has me scratching my head is the hiring of an additional prosecutor. If we have no means of consequences for crimes committed or opportunity for rehab where appropriate, what can we expect from convictions? Perhaps that donation will be more effective elsewhere or when we have the resources to place law breakers in jail or rehab.

    • Louise Hanson says:

      Perhaps the court could sentence the offenders to so many hours of community service. Maybe if the offenders had to work off their sentences a couple of times, they might think twice about re-offending. Just a thought

  13. Frank Treadway says:

    Those of us who live on the fringe of Downtown Redding see the Specific Plan as a necessity to bringing life to the Tehama to South and the Pine to Court St. core. As mentioned it’s a few private land owners that will hold out until the end and keep Market St from going from Tehama to Placer. This part of the plan is vital to the K2 Development and any other entrepreneur who wants to be part of the New Downtown Redding. The Specific Plan is 6 chapters long, but worth reading so you know what’s in the works for the next 2-4 years. If you don’t read it and make comment you don’t have any reason to complain. The out-of-the box retail that K2 Daniel Knott and team are luring to downtown will be a great day for Redding and those on the West side. The new Court House and employees will be in walking distance to all necessary amenities. Thanks to the 21st Century foresight of the city council, staff, McConnell Foundation and Redding Rancheria. Now all we need is an update for a light rail from Dana to Downtown.

  14. AJ says:

    A number of years ago I had occasion to visit not only The Grove in the near-west side of L.A. but also the Arroyo in Pasadena. Exactly the type of developments that is being discussed here. I remember opining aloud at that time, “I wish something like that could happen in the downtown Redding area.” And lo, it is coming to pass . . . . . Hopefully.

  15. Market Street is closed to traffic? No wonder everybody keeps looking at me funny.

  16. Semi-Retired says:

    I certainly avoid Market Street and the downtown area as much as possible. I avoid all the stores as much as possible. I prefer to shop online and have the nice delivery company leave my package at the door when possible. With the traffic, homeless in the parking lot, people taking their dogs into stores, long lines at checkout, stores not having what I’m looking for, untimed traffic lights, rude drivers, unruly children and adults, and the flu season, why would I want to? And when did it become OK for store employees to cough into their elbow ? Do they ever wash their hands?

    • Tim says:

      Semi-Retired asks: “And when did it become OK for store employees to cough into their elbow?”

      That’s been the proper etiquette for at least a dozen years. Coughing into a tissue & immediately washing hands is preferred, but if none are available you should cough into your elbow instead of your hands to prevent spreading germs onto everything you touch:

      • Semi-Retired says:

        So what happens to all the germs left on the elbow? Do they sluff off and migrate from that point?

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