Opinion Columns & Blogs

A vision for DoMo (downtown Modesto) we can turn into reality

Joseph Rodriguez, who works with prunes the Downtown Modesto Partnership, trims a tree on J Street in downtown Modesto.
Joseph Rodriguez, who works with prunes the Downtown Modesto Partnership, trims a tree on J Street in downtown Modesto. mdunbar@modbee.com

Close your eyes for just a minute. Imagine a vibrant, dynamic business and entertainment area with shady, well-landscaped streets and plenty of convenient, affordable parking.

Picture an inviting and walkable destination featuring eclectic dining options, world-class entertainment venues and locally owned retail shops with one-of-a-kind items. Think of a place where talented local artists and musicians are supported and the city’s rich history is celebrated.

Much of that vision already describes downtown Modesto, a place I like to refer to as “one square mile of endless possibility.” It is where the region’s culture, cuisine and community connect.

It is exciting and inspiring to see all that has happened in the past few years.

Private landowners and business people have collaborated with public agencies and nonprofit leaders to strategically invest their time, talent and treasure. Buildings have been renovated and new businesses opened, a manifestation of the growing community belief that anything we imagine is possible. But there is so much more that can be done.

The key word is vision.

Downtown Modesto represents a shared opportunity for our residents to create private and public spaces that truly represent our culture and community spirit. It is not for one group or government agency to decide. It is ours together, and we must take full advantage of the energy and creativity represented among all of us.

In May, the Downtown Modesto Partnership invited urban strategist Michele Reeves to help us begin the visioning process. Michele is a nationally recognized expert. She has worked with cities of varying size all over the country to help them create unique downtowns that build upon an area’s existing strengths to drive economic growth.

More than 200 people attended Michele’s fascinating presentation at the State Theatre. She shared many simple and affordable ideas that can pay big dividends for business and property owners and, at the same time, enhance an urban area’s appeal. Things like the use of color and lighting, ways to make streetscapes more pedestrian friendly, and concepts about parking and building re-use.

The DoMo Partnership is committed to continuing the conversation we asked Michele to start. We want and need a diverse group of Modestans to participate – especially those who have ever enjoyed our downtown and wondered what they could do to make it even better. Here’s your chance.

Our next Visioning Series event is Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 3-5 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Our focus will be on the physical environment. We’ll discuss potential improvements to streets and landscaping, parks and plazas, and the interface of public and private spaces.

Together, we can create something even more magical in downtown Modesto.

Josh Bridegroom is the CEO of the nonprofit Downtown Modesto Partnership. Email: josh@domopartnership.org.

Visioning Series

When: Wednesday, Nov. 15, 3-5 p.m.

Where: DoubleTree Hotel, Modesto

What: Developing a vision of downtown Modesto as a destination for businesses, workers, diners, theater-goers and more.

Who: Anyone interested in creating a more vibrant downtown.