Revitalization of the downtown area of Yakima has been identified as an Economic Development Priority Project by the Yakima City Council. In November of 2013, the City Council approved an Action Plan of steps to be taken to accomplish this priority. The Action Plan was a summary of the Yakima Downtown Master Plan Report prepared in 2013 by Crandall Arambula for the City Council. Several of the Action Steps have been implemented:
- Initiate Plaza as a Game-Changer – The design firm of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) has been hired to begin this process
- Appoint Implementation Committee and Retail Task Force Members – A 28 member citizen Implementation Committee has been appointed and is meeting monthly to guide the Action Steps for the Downtown Plan
- Implement Retail Marketing Outreach effort – City representatives will attend a Retail Marketing Conference in May of 2014 to begin this process
- Conduct a Short and Long Term Parking Strategy and Circulation Study – Carl Walker Associates has been hired by the City Council to conduct this study in parallel with the Plaza Design process
- Conduct a Market Feasibility Study for Public Market and Small Business Incubator Project – The Request for Proposals has been issued and selection of a firm is expected in May of 2014.
The Plaza is a Game Changer
The plaza as a downtown catalyst was a principal message from the Downtown Plan Master Report by Crandall Arambula in 2013. The Yakima City Council hired professional landscape design firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) from Seattle to develop conceptual plans for a Yakima downtown Plaza. A series of public meetings will be held in the next few months to review and discuss what the community would like to see in the Plaza. With public input, a preferred design option will ultimately be developed by GGN and presented to the Yakima City Council for consideration in mid-September.
The City Council is deliberating what method might be used to gauge public support of a plaza, once the design plans are available, approximately mid-September.
Public Workshops Related to Plaza and Parking Studies
On April 17, 2014 the first workshop was conducted at The Seasons Performance Hall at 6:30 PM. The design team of GGN was introduced by the City Manager. Kathryn Gustafson, Principal of the GGN firm, gave an overview of the process and examples of design concepts. A public survey was provided to all attendees. The purpose of the survey will be to gather public input regarding what elements a Central Plaza in Yakima might include. The survey was published on the City Web site in English and Spanish and available for responses from April 18th to May 9th.
The second public workshop was held on May 13, 2014 at The Seasons Performance Hall at 6:30 PM. Results of the community survey were presented with examples of possible design options for discussion .A total of 1591 survey responses were received.
On August 12, 2014 5 designs were debuted for a potential public plaza and the results of a parking study.