The Downtown Specific Plan provides land use policies and development standards that implement the community’s vision for downtown revitalization. The Specific Plan is the result of an active community dialogue that began in 2001 with a series of public workshops and hearings for the Livermore Vision Project and continued through another series of public workshops and hearings until its adoption by the City Council in 2004.
The Specific Plan recognizes the downtown as the center of the community and heart of Livermore. This vision set the stage for the Downtown’s transformation into a pedestrian friendly, commercial and entertainment district, with supportive office and housing uses to provide a built-in customer base for our downtown businesses.
Before 2004, First Street was State Route 84 running through downtown and providing easy cut-through commute traffic. Even for most residents, the downtown was a place to pass through, not a destination. Recognizing the community’s preference to push commute traffic out of the downtown and back to the freeway, the Downtown Specific Plan included changes to First Street that would dramatically slow traffic speeds and recapture downtown streets for residents and visitors seeking an active and pedestrian friendly destination.
First Street - Before Streetscape Project First Street - After Streetscape Project
The First Street Streetscape was the first catalyst project under the Specific Plan to promote investment in the downtown. The Streetscape project narrowed First Street to one lane in each direction, widened sidewalks on both sides of the street, and introduced the “flex-zone” where businesses could seasonally choose to convert new diagonal parking spaces to outdoor space for dining and display. Enhanced landscaping and furnishings such as trellises, benches, kiosks, and lighting finalized First Street’s shift of focus from the automobile to the pedestrian.
Livermore Cinema Bankhead Theater and Plaza First Street & Railroad Avenue Mixed Use
Later catalyst projects, shown above, such as the Livermore Valley Center site (Cinema, Bankhead Theater, and mixed retail/office uses) have helped to energize downtown and make it an activity center on Thursday through Sunday. The downtown restaurants are doing well for the most part, but amid the growing success of online shopping, success for brick and mortar retailers continues to be a challenge. The intent of the Specific Plan’s revitalization strategy is to provide everyday shopping and service uses with a variety of living opportunities. Thus, the Specific Plan identifies commercial, office, and residential development as playing significant roles in revitalizing downtown. The idea is that office uses will support downtown retail and restaurant businesses during the day and that downtown residents will frequent downtown retail and restaurants in the evenings and on weekends. Being a short walk from your favorite retail or restaurant is a lifestyle choice that many enjoy and that helps keep downtown businesses going.
A hotel is another specialty use that will help with downtown revitalization by allowing wine country and business visitors and resident guests to stay longer and to shop, play, and dine downtown. Hotel and residential/commercial projects will work in concert with other existing businesses to continue supporting the downtown as an active and vibrant destination.
The Livermore Village site (1), also known as the former “Lucky’s” site and Livermore Valley Center site (2), located to the west of the Bankhead Theater are two significant catalyst sites remaining under the Downtown Specific Plan. The redevelopment of remaining downtown catalyst sites, especially those owned by the City provide an opportunity to strengthen the success of the downtown core area.