No, I’m not just quoting a line from a baseball movie as a tribute to Jake, who is on a well-deserved vacation this week. I’m talking about the proverbial “field of dreams” in Downtown Redding that we at the Chamber have had the privilege of watching take shape over the past several months. They say, “if you build it they will come”. Well friends, it’s built. And it’s time to come.
At this morning’s Virtual Greeters, I took an informal poll and asked how many people had been downtown (and gotten out of their vehicle) in the past week. Out of about 25 attendees, 4 people raised their hand. Then I asked how many people had not been downtown in a month or more and about half raised their hand. I realize that the Covid pandemic likely plays a part, but based on this quick assessment I think it’s safe to say that there are many in our community who do not regularly eat, shop, or play in the Downtown core. That gets me thinking about what roadblocks may exist that keep people from doing so. Every so often I read or hear comments like, “we will never have a nice downtown in Redding, it’s too (fill in the blank) and there’s too many (fill in the
blank)”. It is then that I hear the stern voice of my mother echoing in my head, “Not that with attitude we won’t!” There is strong evidence to suggest that when healthy activity moves in, unhealthy activity moves out. We’ve seen it in other cities, and we will see it here. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and think of Downtown Redding as the vibrant, lively, and fun city center that it’s becoming.
Let’s talk about some of the common misconceptions that we often hear about downtown.
- Our downtown is unsafe. Here are some facts courtesy of Officer Brian Berg, whose patrol includes Downtown Redding and slightly beyond. There is no more crime per capita downtown than any other area of Redding. Of the crimes that do occur, the vast majority are property crimes and not violent or person-to-person crimes. Officer Berg advises that many property crimes can be avoided by locking your vehicle and not leaving valuables in sight. According to Berg, isolated attacks or assaults are extremely rare and almost always occur between people that are acquainted. To quote Officer Berg, “I don’t think it’s unsafe downtown at all. Be comfortable, but don’t be naive. Be aware of your surroundings like you would anywhere else. Stay in well-lit areas. If you see someone acting strangely, don’t engage. Use common sense and you are very unlikely to ever have a problem.”
- There is no place to park. In reality, there is plenty of parking downtown especially after 5 o’clock. It may not be as convenient as what we are all used to in Redding, but that is a small price to pay for the influx of resident and business activity that makes a downtown come alive. Be willing to walk a couple of blocks if need be! Think of it as your good deed for the day and a way to support a downtown business or event.
- There’s nothing to do. Quite the contrary! Not only do we have wonderful newer additions like the Food Truck Park and Cedar Crest Brewing, we have plenty of old favorites like Jack’s Grill, the Cascade Theater, and everything in between. We at the Chamber are thrilled to see new businesses opening up like Zoe’s Travel Shoppe, Plant Daddy, and One Heart Global Boutique, just to name a few. Thanks to Suzanne Russell of Carousel Boutique, the folks at Enjoy the Store, and V!VA Downtown, we now have a new downtown event that will take place on the first friday of every month called… you guessed it… First Fridays! Retail businesses will stay open late during the event and V!VA is working on the involvement of street vendors and performers. Come on down, park, walk, ride a scooter, do some shopping, grab a bite and a drink, and enjoy the atmosphere!
The revitalization of Downtown Redding has taken an unprecedented level of vision, collaboration, resourcefulness, and commitment on the part of too many entities to list here and there is even more on the horizon with the completion of the Block 7 Project. But it’s up to us, the community, to help sustain the businesses and organizations that have chosen to make downtown their home. On Wednesday, February 24th starting at 11 a.m. the City of Redding in partnership with V!VA Downtown will host Redding’s Historic Market Street Grand Re-opening Celebration via the Viva Downtown Facebook live stream. This historic event will take place on the exact date that the last car drove down Market Street in 1972. How’s that for serendipitous?
The Grand Opening event is virtual but as your resident Chamber lady, I would like you to consider this your official invitation to come downtown soon and take a walk around- especially if it’s been a while! You just might not recognize it.
Director of Marketing & Membership