Recipe for city place-making: Start with a diverse and innovative
population. Add proximity to transit. In a separate bowl, create
policies that encourage pedestrian-oriented and mixed-use development
styles and buildings. Stir and bake for a vibrant gathering place.

traditional ingredients for “making” a city have been embraced by city
planners, urban designers and policy makers for decades. However, the
recipe isn’t always successful. In fact, many efforts have failed in
transforming a city into a “place”. Fremont is in its early stages of
creating a new Downtown that attracts people, builds community and
reflects local identity. How will we ensure success where others have
faltered? Two words: Public Spaces.

In a marked departure from the
“build it and they will come” approach, Fremont is turning the recipe
on its head and putting events before buildings. We are using existing
Downtown public spaces such as streets, sidewalks and parking lots to
create energy we can “build on”. Let’s face it. If something fun and
cool is going on, does it really matter if it’s in a parking lot?

cues from Fremont residents and Downtown property owners, the City is
pursuing cultural and artistic events as a unique way to attract
visitors. Recently, the City partnered with the Fremont Chamber of
Commerce to offer a Friday night Downtown Food Truck event. Now
residents have an ongoing reason to come Downtown to mingle with their
neighbors, relax and enjoy great food. This weekly event is attracting
more than 400 residents and employees and is quickly establishing a
strong identity for the Downtown area as well as creating visitation

Using this success as a springboard, the City is working with local
artist groups, the Fremont Cultural Arts Council and educational
institutions to program bi-monthly Downtown events. This community-based
strategy will introduce a social/cultural platform for interactive art
and cultural content. Ideas range from chalk art contests and on-street
chess tournaments to dance mobs and community movie nights.

a doubt, the most important ingredient in place-making is meeting the
community’s needs in an innovative, sustainable and meaningful way. In
doing so, we expect to influence Downtown’s physical rise in the
immediate term. You can take a peek at those plans by clicking here. In the meantime, see you on Friday night! I’ll be standing in line for a grilled cheese.