Downtown Partnership updates progress

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The Downtown Partnership is growing to match increasing enthusiasm about a downtown renaissance.

The organization, funded by the Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Business Improvement District, will move on May 18, said Susan Edmondson, partnership president and CEO. Its address will remain 111 S. Tejon St., but will change from suite 309 to 404 for more square footage.

The extra space will allow room for at least three new part-time positions and a summer intern. All will focus on communications and events.

Edmondson said she couldn’t yet announce whom she has hired, but she’ll do that in the next couple weeks.

She also hopes, later in the summer, to add a business development manager who can smooth the road for businesses interested in moving downtown or building major developments in the city center.

“We have more staff to take the organization to the scale it needs to be proactive, as well as more responsive, and to work with a greater degree of professionalism during what we see as an especially catalytic time for downtown,” Edmondson said before a special “Downtown Lowdown” meeting Thursday morning.

It was the first of many planned quarterly updates on the partnership’s downtown advances.

In addition to discussing the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new satellite location in Acacia Park, Edmondson addressed the results of a downtown market study conducted by Blakely + Company.

Researchers had one-on-ones with 34 people, conducted seven focus groups and stopped 100 consumers downtown and 100 at a distant shopping center to question them about their thoughts regarding downtown.

The results showed that most people, regardless of where they answered questions, see the same strengths and challenges for downtown.

Strengths include locally owned shops, independent restaurants, arts, culture and special events. Challenges include real and perceived issues with parking, safety and panhandling, Edmondson said.

“And, of course, housing came out loud and clear,” she said. “We really need residential development downtown.”

Edmondson says the partnership hasn’t yet gotten involved in the city’s feasibility study regarding the possibility of moving the Sky Sox to a downtown stadium.