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.
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.