Click photo to enlarge
Peter Quichiz of Brentwood, center spends some time near the new fountain as his son Angel Quichiz, 7, plays catch with Sara Rodriguez, 10, in Brentwood, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. Wider sidewalks, a new community fountain, outdoor dining and new streetlights are improvements to the downtown area hoping to draw more people. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

To fill the annual calendar with popular events and activities in downtown Brentwood, the city has hired a consultant, who is known for organizing successful downtown programs across the East Bay.

This process started last week when consultant, Laura Cole-Rowe, interviewed downtown merchants, city staff and members of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Brentwood Coalition. The study is part of the city's annual Economic Development Grant Program.

"Downtown is finally in this time where we can take it to the next level," Brentwood Economic Development Manager Alex Greenwood said. "It was time to hire a third party consultant and look at what is going right and what is going wrong in terms of events to get to a year-round calendar of successful events and have downtown become a shopping and cultural destination."

According to Greenwood, the downtown business vacancy rate has dropped from 40 percent to 3 percent in just a short time period. He noted that many of the downtown events are organized by various downtown stakeholders and those events cater to different groups of consumers.

"Some of our events target families and some target people getting married and some attract young singles. We are all over the board in terms of demographics," Greenwood said. "Should the strategy focus on one demographic? Our consultant thinks no. Downtown is for everyone. Diversity is the key to downtown events."

Next, Cole-Rowe will combine her initial research with more in-depth, focus group interviews with key downtown parties. Greenwood said that she also plans to attend some downtown events and deliver her final report the Brentwood City Council in May.


Advertisement

"There are a lot of different types of events and there is not the kind of coordination that you want," Greenwood said. "These meetings are open to anyone who is involved in the business and cultural life downtown. Nothing is off-limits on this. The stakes are high and we want to have an honest look."

Cole-Rowe is involved with California Downtown Association and has worked with cities like Livermore, Fairfield and Pleasanton. Greenwood reported that she has said the meetings have been filled with people who are open and want to see downtown Brentwood reach its full potential.

"She is very savvy and brings a lot of ideas," said Downtown Brentwood Coalition Director and merchant Susanne Larson. "She has worked with other cities and can get us where we need to be."

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

---