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Downtown living is about lifestyle

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Every great city is remembered for its own style, character and charm. New York, San Francisco, Paris or Hong Kong, each evokes certain feelings and possesses unique elements that set it apart.

Downtown San Diego is just beginning to express its own urban uniqueness. Much of our charm comes naturally from the beautiful weather, stunning bay views, Balboa Park and walkability.

Downtown is now an eclectic collection of historic buildings and modern towers spanning generations of architectural influence. It is the spaces in between, however, such as public plazas and parks that will become memorable places and create a unique oasis for urban living. These elements are a vital component to the continuing success of downtown redevelopment.

"Downtown's renaissance has done more than merely change the physical skyline," said Centre City Development Corp. President Nancy Graham. "Redevelopment has given the city new life -- it has transformed neglected neighborhoods by attracting jobs and homes to the area. Now it's time to address the public-realm needs of downtown's growing population."

As the private sector continues to add new opportunities to live and work in downtown, CCDC will utilize the resultant growing financial base to invest in public-realm facilities and amenities. A connected system of parks, plazas and gathering places heads the list, with the Downtown Community Plan calling for the addition of more than 50 acres of open space. The implementation strategy prioritizes the development of seven new major public open spaces, which will act as the nuclei for the various neighborhoods, putting every downtown resident within a five- to 10-minute walk of public open space. Other important public amenities include fire stations and a police community storefront to better serve the growing population. Cultural, recreational and educational facilities are also on the agenda, which includes the reopening of the historic Balboa Theatre later this year.

The number of residents downtown has doubled since 2000. Just over 30,000 people call downtown home today, and opportunity exists for more than 80,000 residents over the next 20 years. Downtown residents move here for the experiences, amenities and opportunities available. CCDC is committed to making that experience as fulfilling as possible.

CCDC recognizes that it is extremely important to retain and restore the character and history of downtown's eight distinctive neighborhoods, each reflective of an era in San Diego's history, while endeavoring to build the public-realm necessities.

Graham encourages a sharing of ideas about downtown's future. Join her for the next "Coffee With Nancy," scheduled for 8 a.m. on Friday, June 1 at the Downtown Information Center, 225 Broadway.

Details on planning workshops and the process of expanding downtown's public realm to benefit those who live, work and visit here can be found at www.ccdc.com. For information on free tours, call (619) 235-2222.

Alm is vice president of marketing and communications for CCDC, a public, nonprofit corporation created by the city of San Diego to focus on downtown's redevelopment.

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