Downtown Redding businessman proposes non-profit alternative to food trucks at Library Park

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Dermatologist Dr. Craig Kraffert, developer of Cascade Square downtown, just sent this proposal to the Redding City Council and city staff:

March 20, 2017

Redding City Council

777 Cypress Avenue
Third Floor
Redding, CA 96001

 

 Dear Mayor Weaver and Redding City Council Members,

As you know, since 2003 I have invested millions of dollars of my own money in downtown to create Cascade Square, at Placer and California streets — home to Enjoy the Store, O’Leery’s Irish Pub, Amarte Spa and, soon, Wilda’s Grill.  I am opposed to the idea of a food truck court at Library Park next to the Lorenz Hotel for reasons I will enumerate below.  But if the Council determines a need to act beyond simply increasing park patrols and decreasing park hours, I ask that you consider my counter-offer below — an offer that would bring more money to the city and keep the park part of the community and make it available for not-for-profits to rent for events.

I propose that the City of Redding convert Library Park into a Day-Use Only Park such as Kids Kingdom and Old City Hall, with new highly visible signs that forbid drug use, loitering and camping.  I offer to enter a two-year concession/lease agreement for this converted park that allows for production of non-profit fundraising activities that benefit the entire community.  I offer to pay $855 per month with an initial two-year term.  I expect that my use will be substantially less electricity intensive than the other proposal.  I believe that electricity usage for three to seven food trucks will be more than the $850 per month rent offered by the other party.  Keep in mind that my proposal is from a major pioneering downtown investor with a long-proven track record of making downtown Redding a desirable destination.  Compare this to the other offer on the table – from a downtown newcomer with apparently no prior business experience and no current downtown investment at all.

As mentioned initially, I believe the park may be best served by simply having more patrol attention and/or being converted into a day-use only park without any accompanying concession agreement. My reasons for this are multiple and are shared by nearly all stakeholders I have communicated with in the proposed project vicinity.  I believe the food truck court will result in unfair competition with existing businesses that have higher overhead and fixed locations that will certainly be adversely affected.  There are only so many lunches and dinners to be purchased in a town of our size.  As downtown food and beverage locations have more low-budget competition, the potential to significantly decrease downtown property values is real due to vacancies and downward rent pressure – even when not factoring the potential of visual blight from food trucks and I believe there could be blight based on the kind of food trucks using the park.

Additionally, and significantly, it appears that the food truck owners and project developer could adversely affect the parking and street situation yet not be assessed any traffic impact fees.  These fees are very large for high volume food uses and are paid by developers of brick and mortar businesses.  It also appears to me that there has been a complete lack of full consideration by the City and Council of other options for Carnegie Park rejuvenation such as mine above.  Another solution in the public interest would be to simply add back to the park its pre-1998 status of a northward one way 15 mph street on its western edge with 45-degree parking spaces. This would also fix the homeless problem while improving business visibility, parking, and traffic flow.  Furthermore, I have seen no hard data to validate the concept that this ill-conceived food truck proposal will lessen criminality in the park.  Also, there has been no consideration of other locations for this food court.  In addition, and importantly, food trucks are not part of the Downtown Redding Core Specific Plan – the rule-book for the substantial investments of existing downtown stakeholders.  With all respect to the Mayor, I would suggest that his support for this would vanish if the proposed location was kitty-corner to Kobe Steak House and his Gateway Plaza development, financed with City Redevelopment monies.

There has been zero respect or notice given to current stakeholders near this project.  Additionally, this vote seems very rushed, perhaps to get this rammed through before other options could be put on the table and downtown stakeholders can adequately present the multiple reasons and overall logic of why this is a bad idea for a non-major-metropolitan City like Redding.

In conclusion, I am presenting a better bona fide proposal to the City Council for its consideration if it determines it must act beyond simply converting the park to day-use only and increasing patrols.  This beautiful and historically significant tax-payer supported park should remain part of the community, open to all and available to worthy non-profit groups to use for events, not privatized in a below-market-price for-profit scheme that would largely benefit one developer.

Sincerely,


Craig A. Kraffert, MD

Owner, Cascade Square and 1810 Market Street

 

 

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