Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

There continues to be much angst about downtown Glendale much of it recently resurfaced as a result of the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building to C Plus D Industry. It’s time for fresh ideas, innovation and creation to create a new, vibrant downtown. How?

First, eliminate the entire concept of “Historic Downtown Glendale.” It may have been an appropriate concept when downtown hosted over 100 antique shops but those days are long gone. I don’t pretend to have an answer to a new branding concept but what about something like “Downtown on the Rise” or “Downtown’s New Direction” or “Discover our New Downtown” or “Downtown: Something Old yet Something New”?

Next, place art everywhere. I remember other cities that hosted traveling art exhibits, especially sculptures placed in every downtown nook and cranny. Art doesn’t have to be so expensive that it prohibits its creation. Take a look at the slideshow I created. In the slideshow there are traditional sculptures but there are also examples of simple but powerful street art — on buildings, sidewalks and yes, even on the roadways.

The city has an art fund that requires 1% of the construction cost of new development to be placed in this fund. I know at one time during the national recession it was raided for other needs within the city. Currently there is slightly less than one million dollars in the fund. The city could utilize this funding as a source to begin to add whimsical sculptures throughout the downtown. The idea is to place creative art that causes people to notice – to stop and look and perhaps take a photograph.

The city could use CDBG funding to spruce up downtown. What about new benches that are not wood and do not require extensive maintenance that never seems to occur in a timely manner? Or using this source of funding to repair and maintain the sidewalk lighting? Or using the funding to power wash the sidewalks on a regular and timely schedule?

Make no mistake to succeed this resurgence; this movement cannot only be a city government responsibility. There is only so much the city can or should do. In order to succeed it requires the commitment and participation of all 123 merchants/services located in downtown.

Does that mean someone downtown has to go out and buy an expensive piece of art? No, of course not. Look at the slideshow. Art can be placed on any building. Building art can be simple. Take a look at the slides where art was added to a simple crack on the building’s façade to the slides depicting Trompe-l’œil. Trompe-l’œil (French for “deceive the eye”) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. The possibilities are endless and exciting. Art can create the vibrancy and excitement that downtown has not experienced in many years.

It’s time…time for downtown owners and tenants…and yes, the city…to break out of its antiquated rut of complacency. It’s time for downtown interests to get off their butts; to accept that their destinies and livelihoods are their responsibility…that drawing people downtown begins with their efforts. It’s time to cease relying upon the city for everything, everywhere.

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         


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