The Civic Center Plaza is a focal point for the Downtown, providing the opportunity for a vibrant public gathering spot. In recognition of the importance of this area, in December of 1998, the City Council considered an Action Plan to implement portions of the original Downtown Task Force’s recommendations, which included renovation of the Downtown Civic Center Plaza. In January of 1999 the City staff returned to the Council and identified a more detailed action plan and funding sources for the improvements, which the Council subsequently approved. In May of 1999, the City hosted a design charette in an effort to maximize creativity and public participation in the redesign of the Plaza. A project coordinator was retained and facilitated the design competition between three firms. A design fair was held and the public was invited to review and voice their opinions on the three conceptual designs. The Council also held several public meetings to solicit input and the original Task Force reviewed and commented on the designs. In July of 1999, the City Council selected one of the architectural firms to work with the City to develop and refine a plan for the Plaza improvements.
The costs of the three designs that were submitted by the architectural teams range between $539,000 to $613,600, as the firms were given two preliminary budgets of $250,000 and $600,000. The original scope of the project was anticipated to include the demolition and removal of all of the existing concrete Plaza and the installation of landscaping, plaza furniture, and performance and public gathering areas. Recently the scope of the project has been further refined by the City Council’s Downtown Subcommittee. The new scope does not include the removal of the concrete, but instead envisions working with the existing improvements to enhance the area and make it more functional and attractive. It is envisioned that that following elements will be included in the Plaza renovation: portable sound system, fixed lighting, potted landscaping, benches, relocation of existing central sculptures and re-use of the central raised planter area as a stage. It is anticipated that the improvements will not exceed $225,000. The Council has already approved $575,000 of Capital Improvement Program funds (1999/2004 budget) for the project and $30,000 has been spent on the design charette process. The balance of the unallocated Civic Center funds ($320,000) are anticipated to be reallocated to Downtown streetscape improvements or other Downtown improvement projects or programs. Section VIII, E, 1, Design Standards, Plazas, Civic Center Plaza of this Specific Plan, provides more detailed information on the design of the Plaza.