The BLVD Transformation Project receives statewide honor

LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster continues to receive accolades for its downtown revitalization efforts.

The City was presented with the California Redevelopment Association Award of Excellence for “The BLVD Transformation Project,” at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Lancaster was selected from among California’s more than 400 redevelopment agencies for the annual award, which brings statewide recognition to projects deemed outstanding examples of the redevelopment process that have resulted in better communities. The City originally received the award at CRA’s Awards Luncheon in March.

“The BLVD Transformation Project has truly revitalized the urban core of our community,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a City news release. “This effort is an outstanding example of creativity, vision, and teamwork by a wide variety of City staff, as well as the private sector and members of the public.”

“The quality of our BLVD is a reflection of the community that created it, and we are honored that a statewide organization, such as the California Redevelopment Association not only recognizes that quality, but chose to distinguish our project as the best in California,” Parris continued.

The BLVD Transformation Project received the Award of Excellence in the category of Community Revitalization, which recognizes the long-term efforts of a redevelopment agency in making positive changes to a community, business district or neighborhood. Lancaster accepted the award alongside such cities as Long Beach, San Francisco, Santa Monica and San Jose, who won in categories, such as Mixed-Use development and Residential Development.

“In the short time since completion of the streetscape construction on The BLVD, downtown has seen tremendous success,” added Parris. “I would like to thank our private partners, InSite Development and The BLVD Association, for the integral role they continue to play in this success.”

The Transformation Project has spurred more than $130 million in private investment, generating an estimated $273 million in overall economic output, according to a City news release. This economic growth has created more than 1,900 jobs, according to CRA’s IMPLAN Jobs Calculator. Over 800 of these are permanent position, according to the City news release.

“Today, just over two years since the project broke ground, our downtown has already become a major regional destination for shopping, dining, entertainment and the arts,” said Parris. “The BLVD truly is everything those involved had hoped it would be: a place where friends meet, businesses thrive, and the community comes together as one.”

2012 marked the final year in which the CRA Awards of Excellence will be presented, as CRA recently announced its disbandment on the heels of the State of California’s decision to dissolve redevelopment agencies.

(Information via press release from the City of Lancaster.)

View the video presentation the City of Lancaster submitted with its awards application below.

  20 comments for “The BLVD Transformation Project receives statewide honor

  1. William
    April 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Well, ‘Exactly!’. Now, Lancaster wants to put in parking meters in downtown according to the AV Press. I suppose downtown means the BLVD.

    That outta please you since you support all the ‘positive things that Lancaster tries to do’. What wonderful thing will Lancaster propose next besides the roundabout and horse-drawn buggies? How ’bout one of the softball pitching games where if you hit the bulls-eye, Parris gets dropped into a tank of cold water? I’d pay for that.

    • Exactly!
      April 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Why dont you worry your pretty little head about Palmdale and leave Lancaster alone. Palmdale has enough issues of its own.

      • William
        April 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

        I do concern myself with issues in Palmdale and Palmdale seems to be doing fine during the worst recession since the 1930s and has a higher bond rating than Lancaster.

        You’ve got an arrogant, obnoxious clown for a mayor and I love tweaking him and you. Did you vote for him?

    • Adam Chant
      April 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Considering I specifically investigated and provided documentation relating to this exact issue to the city and Sargent Town Planning I can say that while no decision has been made yet, the concept of what is proposed is nothing like what is implied by the AV Press.
      There are passive automated systems available that place pucks in the surface of a parking space or at entrances/exits of parking lots. These pucks relay vehicle counts for a given location back to a server that can be accessed by any number of conventional and hi-tech techniques. The information is available to the public by way of internet, smart phone applications, voice communication and dynamic parking signage all intended to provide the most efficient path to the nearest available parking space. Whether you use technology to find an available spot or not the system works all the same, but it does benefit those people who use it.
      The cost of a system like this is not free, but at the same time its nothing close to the cost of a parking structure. In planning the long term requirements for the BLVD all options are considered and in this case a passive parking assistance system like this would not only help parking management today, but into the future when BLVD becomes busier than it already is.
      Obviously an additional feature of a system like this is that it is fully capable of designating desirable spaces and implementing a fee for use. That fee while minimal would be applied in such a way that it would keep enough spaces on the BLVD open for those people who are willing to pay to park directly in front of their destination. And at the same time the fee parking will deter long-term parking by business owners, employees and advertising vehicles as is currently the case now.

      The only real problem with parking on the BLVD now is the perception of available spaces and people realizing that there are hundreds of spaces available behind every business in the downtown area. By freeing up parking on the BLVD it will open up spaces to the public and help those who are unfamiliar with available parking find a spot quickly and efficiently.

      It’s highly unlikely that there will be any fee based parking off of the actual BLVD and if there is it would be in the parking structure everyone is always trying to say the BLVD needs. In my mind with 5300 spaces available in the downtown area and only an average of 38% occupancy I would rather have the option of paying $0.25/hr for a key spot on the BLVD or parking for free behind the businesses than pay $1-2/hr for parking further away in a parking structure that will cost $23 million to build.

      The ‘parking meters’ are:
      1. Designed to assist the public in finding parking quickly and efficiently resulting in fewer vehicle emissions.
      2. Provide dynamic signage to available parking.
      3. Increase the availability spaces in key high traffic areas to benefit both the public and businesses with increased spot availability.

      I don’t speak for the City of Lancaster or Sargent Town Planning but I’m a 38+ year resident of Lancaster(QH), BLVD business owner and engineer so I have spent a lot of my personal time verifying with them that this is a system that will work under just about every possible situation and still be friendly for everyone. If it’s not I’ll be the fist one to stand up at a council meeting and call it like it is.

      • William
        April 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm

        Would you agree that the 5300 number of parking spaces is somewhat misleading? If that counts hundreds of spaces nearer to 10th Street West, it doesn’t help patrons wanting to dine or see a movie in the several blocks around BeX and the theater.

        It just seems that the parking situation wasn’t well thought out beforehand and now it’s about playing catchup, workarounds and mitigation and all that.

        Do you actually drive and walk the BLVD to get a first hand sense of what’s going on or are you merely looking at numbers and maps? Since you are a BLVD business owner, try to drive or walk there as though you’ve never been there before and get a sense whether it’s convenient or not. Some things look great on paper but aren’t so great in reality. I would have not put diagonal parking in the median as was done as it makes for a tight thoroughfare. Or, they could have put diagonal parking, only alternating it to make the median more narrow. You’d park diagonally in every other space and the opposite on the other side of the street but that would mean fewer spaces total. The cars would be alongside each other ‘head to toe’. Right now, with big trucks sticking out and pedestrians crossing at mid-block, cars trying to cross at intersections, etc. it’s a little bit of a gauntlet. I’ve read many complaints from Lancaster residents complaining about the drive and the parking in the AV Press, so I’m not the only one.

        The AV Mall can be very busy but I’ve never heard people complain about the traffic and parking despite how much of it there is. The complaints should be a clue that something isn’t working as envisioned. This IS Los Angeles County and people are used to the most awful traffic in the country and for them to complain about the little ol’ BLVD traffic and parking situation is a wake-up call. Of course, Exactly! knows it all and has his hands over his eyes.

        The overall effect, even if parking structures are built, is a dense, urban type environment rather than the spacious open one that is the Antelope Valley. It would seem that the BLVD would be intimate with small shops and restaurants but, at the same time, it has a congested feeling when busy.

        • Adam Chant
          May 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

          Comparing parking at the Mall and the BLVD proves my point in that the closer parking spaces at the mall are at least 200 feet from the entrance of the Mall and actual available parking is generally further out than that. The average distance from an available parking spot on the BLVD and the intended business is around 200 feet. Spots are always available, but knowing where those spots are is the key to the BLVD parking management. A city block is considered from 220 to 400 feet so whether you are walking from your car parking spot at the mall 2 blocks or you are walking 2 blocks on the BLVD you are still walking 2 blocks. I would much rather walk 2 blocks down streets lined with businesses and shade trees than through an asphalt frying pan with no shade and cars everywhere.
          The perception is that because you can’t see the parking it does not exist. The FACT of the matter is it does exist and it is just behind the business you want to visit or next to it across the street. If you can walk 400 feet at the mall to get to your destination then you can walk 400 feet on the BLVD to your destination.

          • William
            May 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

            Ah, but once in the Mall, air conditioned comfort, no wind, rain or blazing sun. Like I wrote before, are you only seeing things on paper?

            Finding a spot at the Mall, near the many entrances or any shopping centers around the Valley is fairly easy. You don’t have to circle an entire block or have to have already been there before to figure it out. It’s user friendly. Plus, aren’t the lots behind the BLVD businesses ‘asphalt frying pans’?

            It just seems that so many things need to be ‘fixed’ to make the BLVD work. It’s not really a natural for what it’s purported to be. For example, many towns with similar ‘boulevards’ already had old hotels and older established businesses and,perhaps parallel streets with commerical establishments instead of residential. The fact that parking meters are even being considered to ‘fix’ the ‘long term parking’ of employees or others? is telling. That is an unlikely concern anywhere else in the Valley.

        • Adam Chant
          May 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

          Not that it matters, but yes I walk and drive the BLVD every day. I also ride with co-workers to the BLVD to see how they respond to parking, businesses and atmosphere. Follow me on foursquare and you will see I check in all over the place from The Thai to Antelope Valley Neuroscience on 10th depending on the plans for a given day. My wife and I also spend a lot of time at the mall and other downtown areas like; VTC, Melrose, 3rd Street, La Brea, etc as our business is unique and that is the only way to verify that we are on pace with our industry.
          I understand the concerns of the businesses, the public and the residents around the BLVD probably better than anyone else, I’m not working from paper I’m working from first hand knowledge of the situation.

          When the parking management study is published for everyone to examine you will see that all of these issues have been raised and addressed with both simple and technology based solutions. Will they all be implemented? Probably not, but many of the systems (proven in other downtown areas to be successful) will be.

          • William
            May 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

            Thanks for the reply. Although, I’m not an engineer or anything like that, I’ve always been aware of how things work or don’t work. For example, I’ve wondered why the freeway interchanges at Palmdale Boulevard and Rancho Vista Boulevard are so antiquated given they feed one of the two major cities in the Valley. A cloverleaf design would have been better, so cars traveling north and exiting at either boulevard would go past them and circle around to merge with westbound traffic instead of having to stop at a light and turn left.

            Why weren’t off and on ranps built at Lancaster Boulevard? They have them on exits further north where there is nothing.

            I recently drove out to east Palmdale on Palmdale Boulevard past the roundabout to 50th East to get to 47th West. What? 47th East didn’t go straight through to Palmdale Boulevard.

            Back in the 90s, when I drove north on 20th West to L or K, I think, for the first time. The painted double lines in the road veered to the right, making you move to the right only to come up against a red diamond sign that indicated that the lane ended and I had to swerve left quickly to continue. This was late at night. On the way back, it looked the same. The double yellow lines both veered rightward creating a short lane down the middle for no apparent reason. I concluded that whoever did that was drunk.

            Down in Los Angeles, I’ve been amazed over and over that they will allow a new mini-mall to be built on a corner of extremely busy intersection with several driveways. Well, that looks fine on paper, but at rush hour people will drive in the most reckless maneuvers to enter the lot or to exit and cross 4 lanes of traffic to make a left-hand turn. There needs to be an acknowledgement of how people actually move about cause people are like herding cats.

            I worked at the old Lancaster Community Hospital and there were office doors that opened out into the hallway, I guess to slam people walking by. There is poor design all around us and that is why the parking situation at the BLVD stood out for me. In a crowed, busy world it’s nice when things are well designed to minimize confusion and unnecessary effort to do ordinary things. BeX had to redesign their operation when people complained about the odd process of ordering at the hostess desk, being escorted to a table and having to pay for drinks and meals separately at first. I read those complaints on Yelp online to verify what seemed strange to me at the time.

            Feedback is useful. Lots of Lancaster residents have had various complaints about the BLVD yet it has always seemed that Parris and the powers that be just do what they want and the public be darned.

        • Adam Chant
          May 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

          Employee parking is also a problem in the Mall, I know I worked there in retail management for many years, have family that still works there and that is why there are red lines about 1/2 way down each row. Employees are supposed to park beyond those lines, but it’s not really enforced making many parking spots up close harder to find for real customers.

          While I have explained it multiple times it’s more than obvious from the comments from you and others that you may be totally clueless to the technology we are talking about when we say “parking meters”.
          Please read my previous comment above and understand that if you have visited any downtown the locations I mentioned then you were exposed to this system and didn’t even know it. (Including free parking areas) Most are subterranean pucks so you don’t even know they are present and some are located at the entrance/exits of parking structures.
          For those who know nothing of the technology signs are made available to direct traffic to available parking like at Disneyland, Citywalk, 3rd Street.(Turn left here, turn right here, Level 3 Parking) For those who are tech-geeks we just pop up an app on our smart phone or call an automated system (hands free) to direct us to the nearest spot to our location. Rather than drive around the parking lot 5 times trying to find the best spot in front of RoadHouse so Patrick Swayze can serve you a beer and a mullet the system will point you right to an available spot. Less driving, less gas used less strain on the environment.
          It’s nice to have 15 minute or less spots available for those people who want get-in & get-out access, how else does one propose to do that with any means of enforcement? The last 2 times I tried to get Outback to-go some jack wad was parked in the to-go spots eating in the restaurant. Now which customer is more important to the staff the guy taking it to-go with no alcohol or tips or the guy having a few and eating in? Needless to say I was happy to park across the street and walk 200 feet to get my to-go food at Outback.

          Take my comments with humor as I’m always tongue and cheek about this stuff. I agree that a lot needs to be ‘fixed’ and no one is denying that, but really what it comes down to is good management of the traffic now so that in the future as it increases it will still be manageable.

  2. Justine Callout
    April 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    O to 10 and back to zero in ten seconds. The last of the RDA money needed for infrastructure goes to Rex’s reitrement fund. And who created this farce award?

    • William
      April 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      I know. I think it’s the same group that the AV Press touts for their awards or at least associated somehow. I’ve gone to the BLVD many times since it was redone and despite the really nice landscaping, the overall feeling I get is depression as I hurry to leave it. There is something missing there and it’s probably because the leadership in Lancaster is reflected in the BLVD. “Lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.

      Everything in Lancaster is a little off. The cineplex is in the middle of nowhere, the Valley Central Way is old and tired as are most of the other shopping centers. The auto mall isn’t at all pleasing to the eye. There really isn’t any attractive commercial property in Lancaster that I can think of . Those godawful Greek buildings on 10th Street West are ridiculous. The place looks like old parts of Bakersfield like no one with any taste had a hand in it.

      There is no energy there, just people walking around like they’re tired of walking around. Shuffling is more like it. It has all the charm of Parris, not the French city, Paris, but the obnoxious, arrogant mayor.

      • John Howard
        April 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

        Are you that useless that you can’t even look it up! It’s called Google. Here I’ll help you..

        The California Redevelopment Association was established as a not-for-profit organization in 1979. Its name was changed to the California Redevelopment Association Foundation and an affiliated not-for-profit trade association called the California Redevelopment Association was formed in December, 2006. These two affiliated organizations (hereafter referred to as CRA) represent redevelopment agencies and allied firms throughout the state of California in responding to legislative proposals and administrative regulations, providing member services, conducting training and professional development events, and providing public information regarding redevelopment law and activities. CRA is comprised of over 350 redevelopment agencies. In addition, CRA’s associate members include more than 300 private sector companies such as financial institutions, redevelopment consultants, developers, and law firms that are involved in the redevelopment process.

        There is probably a Jack-Ass Association that you can join and nominate yourself for too. I’m sure you will win.

  3. Nicole Dawson
    April 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Great video!! It really puts in to perspective all that City officials have done to push The BLVD from 0 to 10 in just a couple of years. I’m so glad that others are taking notice, even if those at home can only criticize.
    Kudos to the City, the Council and the Mayor on a job well done!!!!

    • Lancastarian
      April 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      Next time you drive through a pothole or a flooded sewer, think of mayor parrasite & his visonary blvd. to nowhere. Does this moronic award evewn exist?

      • William
        April 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm

        I went to the BLVD Saturday afternoon around 3-3:30 PM. It was a nice day and the sidewalks were nearly deserted as were all the restaurants except for a few people. Of course, the center median parking space were all full?????? Must be ‘long-term’ parking like at the airport.

        The sidewalks were littered, especially in front of BeX with lots of stains from spilled drinks. I would have thought that Rex would be down there everyday on his hands and knees scrubbing his pride and joy. Although the landscaping and some restaurants are brand new, the overall appearance is getting seedy looking already.

        They sure like to promote the place when it really doesn’t seem to live up to the hype. Sure, you could have Christmas parades or go-kart races on Avenue D and it would look busy for a while for the photographs but……………………

        • Adam Chant
          April 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

          Honestly not trying to pump the BLVD up, but overall foot traffic on the BLVD from around 2-5 is always low. Had you stayed but 1 hour longer you would have been exposed to the night life that fills the BLVD. I should have taken a photo because there were 15 or more people sitting outside of Battlegrounds (another 30+ in the store) and every outside seat at Pour D Vino, Pueblo Viejo and Kinetic were occupied from about 5 to 8 PM.
          Sawyer Brown Played at LPAC at 8 PM and like with most LPAC events the crowd eats at the local restaurants before the show. It’s not perfect by any means, but the traffic is always enough to support the businesses within the downtown area.

          I totally agree about the sidewalks and even the rambla area where cars park on the BLVD. In My opinion the department with the city that is responsible for cleaning the streets and sidewalks is doing a terrible job. They are just not putting in the efforts or using the correct techniques to maintain a clean and appealing atmosphere for the BLVD. The spots on the majority of the BLVD are not food stains, but in fact the seed pods from the trees. They were all over the sidewalks when it rained last week and it caused a real mess.

          • Exactly!
            April 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm


            I have noticed the same thing you have. People come out when it is cooler and when they are home from work. Since Lancaster is mostly a commuter town for people who work in Los Angeles or out at Edwards Air Force Base, the bulk of working people in this town don’t get home until 4 or 5 p.m. They don’t go out for a beer, pizza, wine or a movie until 6 or 7, which are high traffic hours on the Blvd.

            Lunchtime is also another high traffic hour as people from surrounding offices come down to grab a bite at noon.

            No need to explain anything to this individual “William”. I understand he is retired and in his sixties and he is a Palmdale resident who is skeptical of our mayor Rex Parris and skeptical of anything positive that Lancaster tries to do. You will note that tone in most of his posts.

            There’s nothing wrong with William expressing those feelings but you have to take them with a grain of salt.

          • William
            April 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm

            Come on, Adam and Exactly!. Parris has promoted the BLVD as the ‘heart of the Valley’. A heart of the Valley is much busier than simply during Happy Hour. It was a Saturday afternoon, for crying out loud. A while back, I went on a Sunday at dinner time and the Lemon Leaf and the Brooklyn Deli were closed. What?

            I’ve been going to Katz n Jammer’s since the 90s and I swear is has less business since the BLVD opened. I used to avoid early breakfast and right at noon times cause if was crowded. The last couple of times, I went at those times and it was half empty. I like the place and hope the BLVD hasn’t affected them negatively.

            Shopping centers all over the Valley were busier, including the Mall, which Parris has disparaged as being a thing of the past.

            I’ve gone there at noon on weekdays and haven’t seen much larger crowds. The thing is, you two, if you go there at times when it is busy, the parking is even worse.

            As for being skeptical of Parris, I sure am. He has been a pain in the rear for the entire Valley, not just some Lancaster residents. Ask Quartz Hill as well as Palmdale.

            So, I checked if my take on the BLVD was accurate by driving there on a weekend to see if it was a ‘vibrant heart of the Valley’ and it didn’t appear any more vibrant than it did 3 years ago. I don’t care to go there at night on the weekends to mingle with drunks, however. I prefer to go to one of the nicer restaurants on Restaurant Row where I can park easily and not concern myself with drunks. I’ve never seen any been misbehaving there.

          • Lilann
            April 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

            Lip stick on a big gets big award? From who? Mayor Parrisite’s wife?

Comments are closed.