Tracy’s newest community gathering spot, the Downtown Plaza on Sixth Street, has garnered an Award of Excellence for Downtown Revitalization, one of the honors handed out in the 2012 San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Awards.
The award for the plaza, which opened May 1, was announced Sept. 21 by the Fresno Council of Governments, one of eight regional transportation planning agencies throughout the San Joaquin Valley that created the award program.
The Blueprint Awards honors projects that are deemed to fit the spirit of the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint process, an effort that began in 2006 to coordinate sustainable growth between different valley cities and counties.
Fresno Council of Governments Associate Regional Planner Rob Terry said Tracy received the top downtown development award over 15 other applicants.
“More than anything else, (the plaza) embodies the 12 principals of the Blueprint Award,” he said.
Terry said FCOG looked at 12 different criteria — the “blueprint principles” — to judge the projects, including location, public transportation access, enhancement of the economic vitality of the downtown, to how communities worked to plan them.
Although Terry said he was not one of the scoring judges, he echoed their sentiments regarding the winning design of the plaza.
“It provides a vibrant place for people to gather at,” he said. “It’s a very open, a very inviting space. A good, comfortable place for people to meet. It really gave the downtown an attractive area.”
Terry said the plaza’s location near the Tracy Transit Station and the Grand Theatre Center for Arts counted in its favor, as the synergy of those features all bring more activity to the downtown area.
Tracy has been honored before in the Blueprint Awards, receiving an award of merit in 2009 for the city’s general plan and an honorable mention in 2009 for the city’s growth management guidelines.
Assistant City Manager Maria Hurtado said she was pleased the city was honored.
“It’s a great recognition and well deserved,” she said. “Tracy has done some great things to refurbish downtown. The plaza will make a difference to businesses in downtown.”
The $3.8 million plaza — paid for through Redevelopment Agency money just before California abolished those agencies to absorb the money into the state budget — opened after nine months of construction.
It features open space with grass, benches and an interactive water feature. It has already played host to a Cinco de Mayo, movies on the plaza and a wine stroll event, among others.
Hurtado hopes it will be a hub for the community for years to come.
“The plaza is one of several efforts to make a better place — it’s one of the amenities that help us build downtown and make it a thriving place,” Hurtado said.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel will accept the Blueprint Award on behalf of the city at a luncheon on Friday, Oct. 15, in Lemoore.