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Aug 12

Downtown Master Plan Now Complete

Posted on August 12, 2020 at 1:17 PM by Thomas Reeves

In 2017, City staff considered redesigning J Street, a major thoroughfare through Modesto’s vibrant downtown.  As awareness of the J Street project grew, the City’s leadership team identified an opportunity to develop a more comprehensive plan for all downtown streets, not just the one.  This direction resulted in a complete Downtown Master Plan (DMP) initiative, to include land uses and development.

The final plan, approved at last night’s City Council meeting, includes a project background, overview of the public outreach process, design principles, streets and transportation designs, land use and development opportunities, parking concepts and implementation ideas.  There was a significant public participation program which led to consensus among stakeholders for the concepts presented in the DMP.  

The intent of the DMP is to assess and analyze opportunities related to land use and transportation.  In developing the plan, we considered upcoming development projects that will result in meaningful change to the downtown area, such as the new County courthouse, initiation of Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger rail service, and new residential development.  

We’ve heard loud and clear from the public that transportation in and through the downtown area should be improved.  The plan addresses a range of challenges associated with improving conditions for non-motorized travel, while still providing vehicle circulation within and through the downtown area.

The DMP proposes priority networks for various streets based on travel mode type.  That is, certain streets are designated as pedestrian, bicycle, or vehicle priority facilities.  This designation guides the improvements to be constructed along any given street segment, including enhanced sidewalks, bicycle lanes, landscaping and amenities, on-street parking and others.

With the adoption of this plan comes a renewed passion for a vibrant, attractive, livable, and welcoming downtown.  We believe new residential development opportunities will prompt the critical mass of downtown residents that will be needed to create a “24-hour” city center.  The transportation system concepts – particularly those related to walking and biking – will also be important in creating a modern urban environment that supports the City’s long-term economic development goals.

As you review the plan, keep in mind that land use and site development concepts shown in the DMP are intended to reflect ideas and inspiration for future improvements to downtown.  Individual projects will still be subject to a formal design process that considers applicable opportunities and constraints.  Nothing in the DMP is intended to be a burden on existing businesses; rather, the concepts are meant to reflect possibilities and provide inspiration for developing an enhanced downtown environment and experience.

We believe this plan provides a vision that will catch on like wildfire, and that downtown partners will welcome the changes in favor of a new and exciting downtown.