Pages

April 5, 2010

Project Downtown: Ideas for reinvigorating Walnut Creek’s “heart”

The Walnut Creek City council will consider Tuesday night whether to once again levy the annual assessments on downtown businesses that go into a fund to help make downtown improvements. This discussion takes place against the backdrop of larger questions of how Walnut Creek can bolster its economy as the region, the state, and nation try to dig themselves out of the Great Recession.

The downtown is, yes, an important part of the city's economic engine. So, how is the city going to increase the numbers of people who want to do business here, shop here, eat here, have fun here? How is the city going to make its downtown a place that people want to be?

The group charged with the task of devising these strategies is the Downtown Business Association. The association administers the funds that come from those assessments on salons, restaurants, and shops that lie within the Downtown Business Improvement District. In existence for five years, the district levies assessments of anywhere from $125 a year for a small second-floor business to $1,000 a year for a ground floor business of more than 10,000 square feet.

The association also receives money for downtown improvement projects from the Downtown Parking and Enhancement Fund, which consists of revenues generated from downtown parking meters. The fund has provided $650,000 to the business assocation for over three years.

With that money, the association has made some visual improvements to downtown--banners, energy-efficient lights on Locust Street trees. It has also instituted some programs that may be desirable or not, depending on your point of view, such as the valet parking program.

Finally, it has also helped sponsor some popular events, such as Walnut Creek on Ice, the Wine Walk in September to raise money for Walnut Creek schools, and the November 2009 Semi-Annual Sidewalk Sale that included 29 participating merchants.

Earlier this year, the business association spent around $7,000 to hire a so-called "destination guru" to help come up with a brand and logo to promote Walnut Creek. At a February 10 meeting with the Downtown Business Association, Roger Brooks of Destination Development International made some interesting comments and suggestions about how he sees Walnut Creek's future.

He came up with the idea that Mt. Diablo Boulevard is our town's "Mason-Dixon Line." He also threw out the suggestion that we call the area north of this Mason-Dixon Line our "International District" because of all the "ethnic" restaurants operating there.

OK, the business association says Brooks' firm has made a total of 23 recommendations for improving downtown, which range from improving signage in private parking lots to large capital projects, such as building gateways and plazas. A written report is due in several weeks. Let's hope that some of those recommendations are not as interesting as the "Mason-Dixon," "International District" ideas.


Brooks idea about the "gateway" to Walnut Creek? The business association agrees, as it says in its report to the city council: "Whether coming off Mt. Diablo Boulevard from Highway 24 [seen here] or Main Street off Highway 680, there is no indication of where downtown begins. Not only does a gateway help identify to visitors that ‘there is a there there,’ gateways h elpproduce a ‘mall’ or collective mentality among the businesses residing behind the gateway."

In its report, the business association also says it "believes a larger, holistic strategy is needed and that questions remain, such as how should these recommended improvements be prioritized."

Other events on the association's radar? 

--A signature culinary event scheduled for August.
--Creating a special program called "Cruising the Creek "
--A cultural festival, such as a film festival or something like Concord's Japanese Festival.

22 comments:

David said...

Being new to the area thanks for the heads-up about the Japanese festival in Concord.

Walnut Creek needs more outdoor festivals and activities geared towards everybody. I like the downtown and walking, eating and looking around. However some of it does have a little pretentious air about it, and I definitely do not get an international feeling about any of it.

DumbAsBricks said...

I guess it is too late to get the $7000 back. You get what you pay for.

I would expect a much higher profile consultancy be brought in for a town the size and tax base of Walnut Creek.

I mean, our damn library was almost like, $50 mil!

Anonymous said...

WC should host a car show like Danville does. Skip the pretentions art & wine "festivals" and do events that have mass appeal.

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Dear 2:55 p.m.

I want the pretentious film festival.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, not another film festival! Orinda and Livermore are both way ahead of WC in this department and quite frankly I doubt that there are that many other films being produced that are worth another festival.

Why not make a real effort to bring back the fun and profitable part of the Walnut Festival? It used to provide many local charities the opportunity to make money and was indeed a truly 'local' event.

Anonymous said...

No outdoor "festivals" please. Just better - as in interesting - stores. How about a retro record store like the ones they have in Noe Valley? Or a vintage clothing store? Or even a hip young clothing consignment store like Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange? A well-edited hip antique store (no tea cups or Elvis posters) would be fun. No more Pottery Barn-type chain stores.

Anonymous said...

How about a Tea Party?

Anonymous said...

Of course, a community is its people. You don't need a consultant to tell you that. The best thing about WC is its people, its neighborhoods, although the City seemingly fails to believe that. It spends millions on a GP claiming to respect its neighborhoods, then ignores them at meeting after meeting and hires a consultant to help.

He recommends a 'Mason-Dixon'/International aspect to our community.

How out of touch can our leaders be, or rather, how sold out to business can they be? Someday, those in control, and I don't mean the Chamber of 'Commerce', will wake up, and realize that communities build themselves; and all they had to do was let it happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking some type of porn convention. That would bring in the crowds and all the cougars in WC would love it.

Anonymous said...

708,

the dudums want you to 'testify' soon.

that is soooo funny..

Anonymous said...

"Cruising the Creek"?!?! I could have come up with that for $5.00 ! We seriously paid someone for that?!
Ugh.

Anonymous said...

COUGARFEST !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 6:10 p.m. that Walnut Creek needs a variety of unique stores. But can those stores afford the rents and business costs in downtown WC?

Also, I have to admit I like the big stores like Pottery Barn, both personally and from a business perspective. They really do bring in the vehicle and foot traffic. I think they're a good thing for downtown WC. If you want to see what a downtown looks like without those stores, there are a number of East Bay downtowns that are like ghost towns without such stores.

Anonymous said...

Please no more "Junk on the Main" art sales.

Anonymous said...

Aren't there "NO CRUSING" signs on Main Street...

cynthia valeslie said...

i liked the video of what his assessement covers on his website. http://www.destinationdevelopment.com/index.html#

Walnut Creek could definitely benefit from taking action on the easy-but-obvious-but-not-done-yet types of advice offered. We owe it to ourselves to invest in some professional guidance for our businesses that create our downtown ambiance. Then we owe it to our downtown businesses to follow through and DO the things suggested.

Anonymous said...

Roger Brooks and his company Destination Development International have been preying on small unsophisticated cities for decades with his grand, unrealistic ideas.

Here's a video showing one of his typical phony dog-and-pony shows (look at his body language; the language of a con artist playing up to his audience before he asks them to open their wallets):

http://www.kalprod.com/webtest/

He just ripped off the City of Oxnard for $125,000 with his garbage! Here's a link to articles on that fiasco:

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jul/22/oxnard-shores-put-forth-for-citys-brand/

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jul/23/some-residents-reject-idea-of-renaming-oxnard/

Please, small city staffs, stop thinking there's a magic solution to getting commerce and visitors to your downtowns and regions. Throwing money at pie-in-the-sky "consultants" will just put you further behind, not ahead!

Anonymous said...

By the way, taxpayers aren't standing for Roger Brooks' snake oil anymore. Here's a typical reader's comment on the Ventura County Star newspaper's website:

SkepticalEye writes:

LOL! You just can't make this stuff up, folks! Oxnard's gullible Tourism Bureau paid $125,000 to have Roger Brooks from Destination Development International tell them to change their name, build a big plaza, add vibrant shopping and connect it all with skybridges?

If you go to the website for Destination Development International (www.DestinationDevelopment.com), you can read some of their hilarious case studies from municipalities who've been deceived by this flimflam "consulting" company that preys on unsophisticated small cities, their city staff and tourism "professionals" desperate for guidance since they don't have the business skills to handle it themselves:

Case Study for Turlock, Calif. (pop. 55,800)--"Wanting to revitalize downtown and attract more visitors, Turlock retained DDI to help them create a special brand that would set them apart and give them a focus for their revitalization efforts. DDI recommended that Turlock adopt a "Bridal Shopping and Planning Destination" brand. Turlock will become THE place for California brides to come, spend a few days with friends and companions and shop for everything from gowns, invitations, shoes and flowers to music, rings and gifts.

To help Turlock deliver on the promise, DDI provided a step-by-step guide to bring the brand to life. This included a chic new logo, a beautiful brand icon for the city, detailed recommendations to attract wedding-related businesses and information on how to 'rearrange' the business mix downtown and to create a critical mass of shops, restaurants and entertainment."

The problem for no-value company's like Destination Development International and their CEO Roger Brooks, who create fancy little Powerpoint presentations and reports with plenty of blank pages to give them substance, is that the Internet allows their reputations to now be known through forums like this.

And running around claiming to the media and city staff that you've helped 900 cities with their destination branding and marketing will be seen as an outright falsehood when actual results are measured from those past efforts.

Hopefully the next time staff from a "sucker city" that is considering retaining this company (and others like it) will Google Destination Development International's name because if they do they'll easily find comments from incredulous taxpayers like me and will realize this isn't the 1980s anymore when cities were flush with cash and could throw money at unscrupulous "consultants" who offered big ideas that were totally unrealistic.

Time to take your $125,000 from the city of Oxnard and retire, Roger. The gig is up.

(Oh, by the way, maybe you could make more money at your phoney, tired game by changing your name to Ted Sasafras, building a plaza in front of your condo and having festivals all year round! Don't forget the skybridges!!).

Anonymous said...

By the way, taxpayers aren't standing for Roger Brooks' snake oil anymore. Here's a typical reader's comment on the Ventura County Star newspaper's website:

SkepticalEye writes:

LOL! You just can't make this stuff up, folks! Oxnard's gullible Tourism Bureau paid $125,000 to have Roger Brooks from Destination Development International tell them to change their name, build a big plaza, add vibrant shopping and connect it all with skybridges?

If you go to the website for Destination Development International (www.DestinationDevelopment.com), you can read some of their hilarious case studies from municipalities who've been deceived by this flimflam "consulting" company that preys on unsophisticated small cities, their city staff and tourism "professionals" desperate for guidance since they don't have the business skills to handle it themselves:

Case Study for Turlock, Calif. (pop. 55,800)--"Wanting to revitalize downtown and attract more visitors, Turlock retained DDI to help them create a special brand that would set them apart and give them a focus for their revitalization efforts. DDI recommended that Turlock adopt a "Bridal Shopping and Planning Destination" brand. Turlock will become THE place for California brides to come, spend a few days with friends and companions and shop for everything from gowns, invitations, shoes and flowers to music, rings and gifts.

To help Turlock deliver on the promise, DDI provided a step-by-step guide to bring the brand to life. This included a chic new logo, a beautiful brand icon for the city, detailed recommendations to attract wedding-related businesses and information on how to 'rearrange' the business mix downtown and to create a critical mass of shops, restaurants and entertainment."

The problem for no-value company's like Destination Development International and their CEO Roger Brooks, who create fancy little Powerpoint presentations and reports with plenty of blank pages to give them substance, is that the Internet allows their reputations to now be known through forums like this.

And running around claiming to the media and city staff that you've helped 900 cities with their destination branding and marketing will be seen as an outright falsehood when actual results are measured from those past efforts.

Hopefully the next time staff from a "sucker city" that is considering retaining this company (and others like it) will Google Destination Development International's name because if they do they'll easily find comments from incredulous taxpayers like me and will realize this isn't the 1980s anymore when cities were flush with cash and could throw money at unscrupulous "consultants" who offered big ideas that were totally unrealistic.

Time to take your $125,000 from the city of Oxnard and retire, Roger. The gig is up.

(Oh, by the way, maybe you could make more money at your phoney, tired game by changing your name to Ted Sasafras, building a plaza in front of your condo and having festivals all year round! Don't forget the skybridges!!).

Anonymous said...

By the way, taxpayers aren't standing for Roger Brooks' snake oil anymore. Here's a typical reader's comment on the Ventura County Star newspaper's website:

SkepticalEye writes:

LOL! You just can't make this stuff up, folks! Oxnard's gullible Tourism Bureau paid $125,000 to have Roger Brooks from Destination Development International tell them to change their name, build a big plaza, add vibrant shopping and connect it all with skybridges?

If you go to the website for Destination Development International (www.DestinationDevelopment.com), you can read some of their hilarious case studies from municipalities who've been deceived by this flimflam "consulting" company that preys on unsophisticated small cities, their city staff and tourism "professionals" desperate for guidance since they don't have the business skills to handle it themselves:

Case Study for Turlock, Calif. (pop. 55,800)--"Wanting to revitalize downtown and attract more visitors, Turlock retained DDI to help them create a special brand that would set them apart and give them a focus for their revitalization efforts. DDI recommended that Turlock adopt a "Bridal Shopping and Planning Destination" brand. Turlock will become THE place for California brides to come, spend a few days with friends and companions and shop for everything from gowns, invitations, shoes and flowers to music, rings and gifts.

To help Turlock deliver on the promise, DDI provided a step-by-step guide to bring the brand to life. This included a chic new logo, a beautiful brand icon for the city, detailed recommendations to attract wedding-related businesses and information on how to 'rearrange' the business mix downtown and to create a critical mass of shops, restaurants and entertainment."

Hopefully the next time staff from a "sucker city" that is considering retaining this company (and others like it) will Google Destination Development International's name because if they do they'll easily find comments from incredulous taxpayers like me and will realize this isn't the 1980s anymore when cities were flush with cash and could throw money at unscrupulous "consultants" who offered big ideas that were totally unrealistic.

Time to take your $125,000 from the city of Oxnard and retire, Roger. The gig is up.

(Oh, by the way, maybe you could make more money at your phoney, tired game by changing your name to Ted Sasafras, building a plaza in front of your condo and having festivals all year round! Don't forget the skybridges!!).

Anonymous said...

By the way, taxpayers aren't standing for Roger Brooks' snake oil anymore. Here's a typical reader's comment from a newspaper website VCStar.com:

SkepticalEye writes:

LOL! You just can't make this stuff up, folks! Oxnard, Calif.'s gullible Tourism Bureau paid $125,000 to have Roger Brooks from Destination Development International tell them to change their name, build a big plaza, add vibrant shopping and connect it all with skybridges?

If you go to the website for Destination Development International (www.DestinationDevelopment.com), you can read some of their hilarious case studies from municipalities who've been deceived by this flimflam "consulting" company.

Case Study for Turlock, Calif. (pop. 55,800)--"Wanting to revitalize downtown and attract more visitors, Turlock retained DDI to help them create a special brand that would set them apart and give them a focus for their revitalization efforts. DDI recommended that Turlock adopt a "Bridal Shopping and Planning Destination" brand. Turlock will become THE place for California brides to come, spend a few days with friends and companions and shop for everything from gowns, invitations, shoes and flowers to music, rings and gifts.

To help Turlock deliver on the promise, DDI provided a step-by-step guide to bring the brand to life. This included a chic new logo, a beautiful brand icon for the city, detailed recommendations to attract wedding-related businesses and information on how to 'rearrange' the business mix downtown and to create a critical mass of shops, restaurants and entertainment."

Hopefully the next time staff from a "sucker city" that is considering retaining this company (and others like it) will Google Destination Development International's name because if they do they'll easily find comments from incredulous taxpayers like me and will realize this isn't the 1980s anymore when cities were flush with cash and could throw money at unscrupulous "consultants" who offered big ideas that were totally unrealistic.

Time to take your $125,000 from the city of Oxnard and retire, Roger. The gig is up.

(Oh, by the way, maybe you could make more money at your phoney, tired game by changing your name to Ted Sasafras, building a plaza in front of your condo and having festivals all year round! Don't forget the skybridges!!).

Anonymous said...

By the way, taxpayers aren't standing for Roger Brooks' snake oil anymore. Here's a typical reader's comment from a newspaper website VCStar.com:

SkepticalEye writes:

LOL! You just can't make this stuff up, folks! Oxnard, Calif.'s gullible Tourism Bureau paid $125,000 to have Roger Brooks from Destination Development International tell them to change their name, build a big plaza, add vibrant shopping and connect it all with skybridges?

If you go to the website for Destination Development International (www.DestinationDevelopment.com), you can read some of their hilarious case studies from municipalities who've been deceived by this flimflam "consulting" company.

Case Study for Turlock, Calif. (pop. 55,800)--"Wanting to revitalize downtown and attract more visitors, Turlock retained DDI to help them create a special brand that would set them apart and give them a focus for their revitalization efforts. DDI recommended that Turlock adopt a "Bridal Shopping and Planning Destination" brand. Turlock will become THE place for California brides to come, spend a few days with friends and companions and shop for everything from gowns, invitations, shoes and flowers to music, rings and gifts.

To help Turlock deliver on the promise, DDI provided a step-by-step guide to bring the brand to life. This included a chic new logo, a beautiful brand icon for the city, detailed recommendations to attract wedding-related businesses and information on how to 'rearrange' the business mix downtown and to create a critical mass of shops, restaurants and entertainment."