aestheticsIssue 16

Inspiring Places: Downtown Riverbank

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.01.44 PM BY ALEX CANTATORE

What was once a dilapidated downtown is now an adorable district, poised to become the hub of the city once again.

After years of relative neglect, Downtown Riverbank underwent a multi-million dollar renovation project staScreen Shot 2015-05-05 at 2.56.34 PMrting in 2007. The renovation is part of a much larger, longer-term plan to revitalize Downtown Riverbank, moving the city’s heart away from new shopping centers and into its historic core.

Run-down sidewalks were widened and landscaped. Pavers in crosswalks and sidewalks add an artisanal touch, while regionally- appropriate landscaping adds character. And beautiful benches and light posts make downtown more pedestrian friendly than it ever was before.

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Drivers can enjoy the view too, thanks to a landscaped center divider with large, shady trees. More trees shade the sidewalks, cooling down Downtown Riverbank during those hot summer days.

Sculptures and distinctive mosaics abound, many by local artists. And murals cover what were once bare walls, reducing graffiti.Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.06.36 PM

Downtown Riverbank is anchored by Del Rio Plaza, a picturesque park built in the site of a former parking lot. The plaza’s winding water feature adds a calming touch, while a stage provides a venue for outdoor performances.

Downtown Riverbank’s beauty is more than skin-deep. Part of the renovation project re- piped storm drains, preventing the once- prevalent flooding of businesses and helping the environment as well; captured storm water s filtered and discharged into groundwater recharge basins.

Just down Santa Fe Avenue sits the new Riverbank Teen Center, constructed with straw bale walls and large, roll-up glass doors that open to outdoor gathering areas. The center hosts after-school programs and group activities, giving teens a good reason to stay in Downtown Riverbank – and changing the new generation’s opinion of downtown.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.07.01 PMThough some growth was slowed by the recession, the Riverbank City Council isn’t done revitalizing Downtown Riverbank. An adjacent site, formerly home to a cannery, will be turned into a vibrant mixed-use site with shops and housing, near the heart of Downtown Riverbank.

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