The Panes of Progress: Stained-Glass to be Saved as Promenade’s Facelift Begins

Sometimes, with progress comes pain, and that’s certainly the case in downtown Redding as work begins to repurpose the Market Street Promenade.

Demolition of the old Dicker’s department store is about to begin in earnest, and in its place will be a $38 million, four-story building that will combine residential, retail and office space. In a related development, in accordance with the new Downtown Specific Plan, vehicle traffic will be reintroduced to portions of Market, Butte and Yuba streets.

“It’s going to be a game-changer for downtown,” predicts Steve Bade, a community development manager and the city’s downtown liaison. “It will really reopen those streets and bring some life into that Promenade area. Storefronts will be active. It’s what everybody has been waiting for.”

Standing in the way of all that progress and improvements are the concrete pillars and stained-glass panels that date back to the early 1970s and the opening of the Downtown Mall. They’re going to go away, but the stained glass will come back. In a form and at a time that is to be determined.

The old Dicker's (in the background) is going away and so are the concrete columns on the Market Street Promenade. The stained glass will be preserved and eventually reused. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Bade said a public works crew has begun removing the glass panels. They will be gathered up and stored at the city’s corporation yard. “We’re taking it slow and easy. They’re big and kind of heavy—and they’ve been up there for 40 years,” Bade said.

The historic nature of the columns, and the aesthetic value of the stained glass, caught the attention of Viva Downtown’s Design Committee. The committee is composed of downtown advocates who meet monthly to help with the development of an accessible and inviting downtown. The committee also helps identify and preserve downtown’s rich history.

Bade said he has been working with the Design Committee to preserve the stained glass and, eventually, find a new use for it. “That stained glass has some usefulness to it. We’re hoping an artist will come up with an idea on how to reuse it. I’ve been receiving emails from Design Committee members; their ideas are always flowing. I think there will be a good reuse project that comes out of this.

“There are some unique sizes of it (glass) and it’s kind of nostalgic. There could be some cool uses. I’ve seen it remade into tiles and pavers. We’ll see what folks will come up with.”

Bade said the updated columns and the meandering blue bench at the south end of the Promenade will be preserved. They were refurbished as part of a Renaissance Redding project after the Downtown Mall’s roof was removed.

Some Downtown Mall history

When it opened in 1975, covered malls were all the rage and Redding’s plan was considered cutting edge. Putting a roof over three blocks’ worth of Market Street created a 340,000-square-foot shopping mall. Dicker’s department store, at 65,000 square feet, became the mall’s anchor.

There was little, if any, public opposition to the mall project and most were relieved when several old buildings resting on precarious foundations of rock and crumbling brick were torn down before they fell down.

Progress, however, can be a peculiar thing. The same year the mall opened in downtown Redding, the city approved plans by Southern California developer Ernest Hahn to build the $25 million Mt. Shasta Mall on the east side of the Sacramento River, and the era of big-box retail had begun.

Soon, retailers like J.C. Penney and Sears left downtown to be closer to the interstate, and shoppers joined the migration. Still, the mall’s mix of specialty and high-end shops managed to keep it afloat well into the 1980s. But then retail sales began to wither, shops closed, and government and service agencies began filling up the vacant stores.

Dicker’s closed in 1992 after a nearly 50-year run.

The future

Construction fencing already surrounds the Dicker’s building and workers are busy with lead and asbestos mitigation work. Bade said the developer, K2 Development Companies, wants to get the demolition completed by June 1.

K2 bought the Dicker’s building in 2016 and later unveiled its plans to demolish it and replace it with an E-shaped building that would feature retail and office space on the ground floor and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments on the top three floors.

Some 56 of the project’s 79 units would be classified as affordable housing and the remainder would be market-rate. Accompanying the project is the opening of Market, Butte and Yuba streets to vehicle traffic. The redesigned 80-foot-wide streets will be showcases of contemporary urban planning with defined pedestrian corridors, shade trees, bike parking areas and room for sidewalk seating and parklets.

K2, in partnership with the Shasta Regional Transportation Planning Agency, applied for and was awarded a $20 million state grant through the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program. The grant includes funding for the Diestlehorst-to-Downtown trail project that is expected to attract more pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the downtown area.

K2 has partnered with the McConnell Foundation and the city to apply for 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.

Bade said the partners received a letter in late March informing them that their grant application had met the threshold requirements. “We should be getting a response any time now, probably within the week, and we’ll find out how we scored and where it will go next. It’s encouraging,” Bade said.

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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22 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Since Shelly Shively is a wonder at repurposing, I hope she envisions something for the stained glass. While in Redding this week, I had occasion to drive through the parking garage a couple of times. Anything will be an improvement over that dark, low-ceilinged, squatter-attracting monstrosity.

  2. Sue K says:

    Thank you for the report and love the photos of the concrete pillars and stained-glass.

  3. Hopefully we can do something better with the stained glass than make it into mosaics. The panels need to catch light and enhance the personal experience of pedestrians. Hopefully the offices will move out and businesses move in. I envision this area as an art , shopping, food and wine center.

  4. Tim says:

    In light of the then-proposed Stillwater Business Park, the 2006 Grand Jury investigated the special interest influences and failures of redevelopment agency projects, including the Downtown Mall (which was still being paid off 30 years after construction & 15 years after acknowledged failure). Unfortunately, their warnings on Stillwater were as well heeded as Cassandra’s.

    Highlight:
    “Redding City officials interviewed agreed that the Downtown Mall is an example of a redevelopment project area that actually resulted in blight while attempting to reverse it. The mall’s high vacancy rate, lack of economic productivity, and deteriorating physical structure are prime components of blight. Instead of accepting a redevelopment failure and terminating this project, the RRA board decided, in 1990, to rename and expand this zone from its initial 10 acres to over 2600 acres.”

    https://www.co.shasta.ca.us/docs/libraries/grand-jury-docs/0506-reports/redding_dev_agency

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Tim — You omitted the last sentence of the highlighted paragraph: “This decision has stimulated revitalization of the City’s core.”

      Followed by: “The City Council agrees with the finding.”

      Was your omission because you wanted to paint a picture of everyone agreeing that the expansion of the RRA was a flop? When I moved to Redding in about 1995, downtown Redding was a dead zone—not just the mall. What’s happened to downtown Redding since then has been a roller-coaster ride, but far from a flop.

      • Tim says:

        Maybe I’m demented, but I thought it was amusing to expand a failed project 260x.

        And I see the roller coaster as evidence of its failure. I mean sure, it is successful as long as taxpayers are dumping tens of millions of dollars down the drain. The moment they turn off the spigot, the moment it begins reverting back to “blight.”

        Vietnam and Iraq will prove lesser quagmires than Market & Placer…

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Downtown’s roller coaster is a function of our local roller-coaster economy, not the revitalization zone. We’re forever dragging ass behind the rest of the state, and our economic fluctuations are more pronounced. (Largely parasitic economies always fall hardest in downturns.)

          The event that would cause downtown to crash and burn would be if Bethel decided that now is the time to abandon Redding—prior to sinking a fortune into their new campus—because some other place would be more hospitable. Inside of a minute, off the top of my head I can think of a dozen downtown businesses that are owned by Bethelites, and sustained in large part by Bethelites. Give me five minutes on Google and Yelp and I could come up a few dozen Redding businesses.

          Honestly, it concerns me more than a little, how much our economy and property values are now beholden to Bethel’s existence and continued growth. I haven’t heard that approval of Bethel’s new campus was based in part on the people who run the City saying, “We can’t afford to lose this golden-egg-laying goose.” But it would surprise me if that didn’t enter into their thinking.

          • Michael Kuker says:

            Well, the downtown mall concept was badly flawed too. Jeff Speck wrote in his 2013 book Walkable City that “Out of the two hundred pedestrian malls created in the United States, only about thirty remain.” Most of the survivors are in college or resort towns, of which we are neither.

          • Tim says:

            We’re ~10 years into a bull market and can’t even maintain existing service levels for police, fire, parks/rec, & library. Look around, this is the boom…

            Redding’s version of the skyscraper index is adding a new trail system or remodeling one or both malls…

            As for being a “revenue suck,” by my calculation the North State sends 350 million hcf of water to Southern California (more to the central valley). At $100/hcf, that’s $350 billion per year SoCal is taking from NorCal for free. Who’s sucking whom dry?

          • Tim says:

            By the way Steve, I could use your expertise. The winter Chinook run was 117,000 spawning adults in 1969 and, according to an article in the dailykos, that figure was 0.2% of the 1949 tally ( https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/18/1707893/-California-Tribe-organizes-Run4Salmon-to-bring-bring-winter-run-Chinook-salmon-home-to-McCloud-River ).

            Did they misplace a decimal? Otherwise that would mean there were nearly 60 million winter run Chinook when Shasta & Keswick Dams went up. At $20 a pop, that’s $1.1 billion worth of fish sacrificed every winter for the sake of green lawns and golf courses 600 miles to the south…

            That can’t be right, can it?

  5. Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

    I’m glad the stained glass is being preserved, as it reminds me of the community rally at Yuba and Market Streets (in the Mall) in July of 1999, expressing community response to the killings of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder. With something like 400 in attendance in front of national media, this is one of my “proud of Redding” moments.

  6. Michael Kuker says:

    It will indeed be a great day when that godawful mistake known as the Dicker’s building is consigned to the ash heap of history. The new K2 building is going to be a tremendous addition to Downtown Redding.

  7. Amy says:

    Jon, this is a great article. I follow all this stuff with interest, having “been there” when it all got covered, as you know. It seemed like such an exciting thing at the time. But it’s beyond time for all this to happen! Dicker’s has been a giant slab for way too many years, and it will be wonderful to have a multiple-use structure there! Plus affordable housing! And tearing down the parking structure! Yay!
    Okay, so here in Grand Junction the historic downtown main street was never closed to traffic, but was made into a walking “mall” with shade structures, play areas, trees and large planters, bike racks, and best of all, public art. This was done in….get ready….1963! It made the cover of Sunset Magazine. It was driven by several downtown merchants, and a lot of folks thought they were nuts at the time. It has proven to be the savior of the town’s identity. I would love to send a photo, but it doesn’t look like that’s an option. I’ve thought for YEARS that someone from Redding should do a little road trip to see GJ’s downtown–it’s really so well-designed. I will try to send a link.

  8. Karen C says:

    What happened to the beautiful metal work shaped into majestic oaks? Some of it appeared on the stair hand rails
    I have a beautiful framed piece of what looks like a giant oak with exposed roots. At some point, I heard the City of Redding had much of it in storage.
    Anyone know what became of it?

  9. Sue says:

    Some are at the Shasta Historical Society.

  10. Janis Logan says:

    It would be really neat to incorporate the stained glass in all businesses located the cultural district. A sort of cultural stamp indicator.

  11. Alice Bell says:

    The beautiful metalwork (trees) were a lovely touch. It would be nice to see those again sometime.

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