Old Town welcomes Urban Design Festival and holds Centennial Plaza groundbreaking

Photos by Ron Sundquist

By Carole Grosch, Reporter

Taking it to the streets photo 2Delightful temperatures greeted the very first Taking it to the Streets Urban Design Festival the weekend of May 14. Along with the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association, the City of Clovis hosted the debut of the hands-on event.

Fifteen “humatats” or “parklets” were created in the parking spaces set aside for members of the community interested in building an urban design to share with their neighbors. It was an opportunity to have fun and celebrate the streets’ role as an agent of social life.

Early Farmer’s Market shoppers got the first glimpse of the parklets being constructed, while official public viewing began at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The plan was to operate like a parade in reverse – people passed by while the humatats remained in place.

“We had 15 entries that were well visited by the community,” said Dwight Kroll, City Planning Director and Humatat Origanizer. “Unlike Big Hat Days or Oktoberfest, this festival was intended to be more oriented toward involving the public more intimately in urban and architectural design and to that effect it was a great success. We had more than 150 people visit all humatats and they were as varied as the participants who built them.”
Then, of course, there was a bit of friendly competition.

Festival attendees were given a location guide of the parklets, with space to write the secret street code of each one. Once they visited all locations, they could vote for their favorite humatat and receive a gift bag at the information booth.

Each parklet was judged by the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association and a member of the Business Organization of Old Town.

“Superfunction” by The Earth Builders won in the professional category. Its parklet featured several drought-tolerant plants and multiple seating areas.

“Urban Escape” by CART Reconnect, a team of high school students at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology, won the amateur category.

SIM Architects won The People’s Choice award. Their humatat featured colorful horticulture teamed with comfortable benches.

The festival continued until 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and included local gourmet food trucks, free activities, musical entertainment by Blues recording artist Cole Fonseca and Friends, and, on Saturday, an architects relay took place followed by the humatat awards.

There is a possibility of making the festival an annual event and some of the Old Town businesses would like to keep certain humatats in place for continued use.

Taking it to the Streets:groundbreaking photo 6Centennial Plaza Groundbreaking

During the festival, a groundbreaking for the north and south pads at Centennial Plaza took place around 12:30 p.m. on May 14.

Plans are for two brick three-story buildings to be the new home for mixed use businesses, including dining, entertainment, retail and offices.

Roger Peterson of the Peterson family and Roger Peterson Investments in Clovis will build on the southern location. Office space is planned on the top two floors with retail and a restaurant on the bottom floor. Construction could be complete by the end of the December 2016.

On the northern location, at Pollasky and Bullard, Centennial Plaza Development Group, consisting of the Shamshoian family, owner of Realty Concepts in Fresno, and Bill Cummings and James Reedy, owners of Legacy Construction in Fresno will build new offices for Realty Concepts, Lending Concepts and RC Commercial. Plans are for approximately 60 associates to be housed on the upper two floors and a restaurant to be on the first floor. Estimated time for construction is one year.

Both buildings will match the architecture of Old Town.