Volume 1, October 5, 2018

The following summarizes some of the common questions we have heard surrounding the proposed Scotts Valley Town Green project. These answers are offered to help address common concerns and improve community understanding about the project and its components. As questions arise we will continue to add to this FAQ.

The Scotts Valley Town Green is the focal point of the long planned and approved Town Center Development. The overall project is to be a walkable mixed-use development, that includes 25,000 – 30,000 square feet of retail, some civic uses including the Town Green, new parking, Market Rate and Affordable Housing Units.

Housing is a critical component of any successful mixed-use development in today’s changing marketplace. The retail is basically an amenity that provides very little economic value to cover the cost to build the necessary infrastructure, parking and buildings. Rents will typically cover the cost to just operate.

This change demonstrates how retail is changing rapidly due to online shopping habits. New retail centers have a hard time attracting major tenants and achieving rents that will pay for the space. This is evident as existing older retail centers that line Mt. Hermon Road are being challenged to provide the kinds of experience shoppers want today in the current retail climate. Only by combining retail with other economically supportive uses can we create the kind of places – and attract the kind of stores – that people are looking for.

Housing is also critical to create the kind of vitality that keeps these places interesting, and support the retail on a day-to-day basis. With proximity to transit the Town Center can actually reduce new traffic generation and greenhouse gases from generated by cars that might need to drive to just a stand alone retail center.

Our goal is to create a living room for Scotts Valley Residents in which to gather. Current residents of Scotts Valley know it offers a great quality of life. But where do you go to meet friends? To hear music in the park? To eat fine food or a casual meal al fresco? You usually have to leave town because Scotts Valley lacks what all great communities have – a clear, central place to gather. A living room.

The Town Green should be designed and sized to build on the legacy of great downtown ‘plazas’ or ‘squares’ that are throughout California’s most beloved towns. A properly designed and managed Town Green can offer the community a place to gather for evening music, movies in the park, community events, or just to meet friends. It will be a place that residents can be proud of and call their own.

The goal is to weave together existing, important civic functions that currently existing around proposed Town Green, into a cohesive identifiable place. Scotts Valley has many great facilities. Skypark is a great open space for our kids to play. The Library was creatively forged from a prior purpose and now acts as a great place for learning. The transit center connects Scotts Valley to the region. The Community Center bustles with activity all times of day. But each of these uses stands alone – with independent parking lots and dead spaces in between.

The Town Green would create a central organizing element, surrounded by new streets, and pedestrian friendly sidewalks to connect all of these important civic functions into a single identifiable place – Scotts Valley’s downtown. It would allow the community to drive ‘downtown’, park once, and then enjoy many different experiences such as visiting the library, walking to the Farmer’s Market, having lunch at a sidewalk café, or playing ball with your kids in the park.

Based on feedback from the community, we hear people want more – and better – retail.
The great places to go to relax and have a nice meal, shop for unique items, or even get higher quality groceries have been a big part of the conversation. Abbot Square in Santa Cruz has also been discussed a lot as the type of place that would be really nice to have in Scotts Valley. That, and almost EVERYONE wants a Trader Joes!

But, Scotts Valley does not have sufficient population to meet Trader Joe’s minimum population requirements for locating a store here. Nevertheless, there may be other options to fill the desire for a higher quality, organic grocer. Over the next few months the team will be talking with retailers that match community desire and see if there can be a better fit.

As with most California cities, Scotts Valley is facing a number of economic challenges due to our statewide tax structure. Attendees at our open house voiced concern over the fiscal imbalance that new housing can create between services required and additional taxes paid. The Town Green team is working on some new models where new development would contribute additional dollars directly to the city coffers through new financing vehicles. These additional costs would only be imposed on the proposed development but would benefit the full community.

We expect to share our initial concepts and frameworks for the Town Center and Town Green, during our November Open House event.