But where are the people?

While the Fruitvale Village development profiled yesterday is indeed a success story in that a visionary developer transformed it from a parking garage proposal into a beautiful, walkable community of residences, offices, and shops, it hasn’t quite succeeded on the retail just yet.

Businesses like a florist, take-out restaurant, and chiropractor are struggling, wondering why all that pedestrian traffic from the busy transit station commute doesn’t translate into commerce. A couple of reasons:

– They’re two phases early, ahead of the small destination local restaurant with great food in phase one, and ahead of the large destination regional restaurant that comes in phase two.

– The plaza itself is currently an empty ‘stage’ with no ‘performances’. For instance, here’s a picture of a street in Sienna, Spain. Except, one doesn’t see a ‘street’, but a crowd of people instead. Fruitvale, a Latino community, could tap into its cultural heritage and host weekly banquets in the plaza, attended by the village residents and catered by the village businesses.

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