What do you envision in your downtown?

DOWNEY - On a recent Monday night, about 7 p.m., the scene at Downey Avenue north of Firestone Boulevard was eerily sedate.Save for a smattering of vehicles outside Granata's Italian Villa, Downey's so-called downtown was empty. Most businesses had closed for the day, and would remain dark until the following morning. Besides a couple of giggling teenage girls walking arm-in-arm to the Krikorian Theater, foot traffic was almost nonexistent. In other words, it was like any other night in Downtown Downey. But city leaders are trying to change that image of desolation, and are revitalizing efforts to revitalize the downtown. Last year, the city of Downey doled out more than $2 million to purchase the Avenue Theatre and nearby Verizon building, two separate pieces of property connected by a shared parking lot that officials call the key to a reenergized downtown. More recently, the City Council approved a $750,000 deal to entice Porto's Bakery downtown. The Cuban bakery currently draws 2,000 customers per day to each of their Burbank and Glendale locations. City officials hope the Avenue Theatre and Verizon building will be redeveloped as a mixed-use project, including a "sit-down restaurant" and affordable housing units, according to a city-prepared report. The city also wants "community space" set aside for cultural programming. According to a Request for Proposals dated Sept. 25, 2008 and available on the city website, "Downey intends to move forward expeditiously on the joint redevelopment of the Avenue Theatre and the Verizon building. Toward this end, the city seeks proposals from qualified real estate development firms to carry out this redevelopment." The report sets parameters for redevelopment requests, which includes: •Reuse of the current infrastructure "to the extent economically feasible." This includes reusing the Verizon building's steel and concrete, and rehabilitating the Avenue Theatre marquee. •Construction of new housing units, 20 percent of which should be affordable as defined by the state of California. •A 1,600 sq. ft. restaurant inside the Avenue Theatre. "The city desires to see this space reused by a high-quality, sit-down restaurant," the report says. •A resolution to any parking concerns. Finally, the city would like to see "community space" included in any redevelopment plans. "Community space should be located on the ground floor and can be flexible and multi-purpose and include cultural programming and/or other community-serving programming," the report says. John Perfitt, director of economic development for the city of Downey, will present a report on the redevelopment at a meeting Tuesday inside the Downey City Library's Cormack Room. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and is part of a meeting of the Downey Redevelopment Project Area Committee (PAC). The public is invited to attend and share their thoughts. ********** Published: January 2, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 37