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Uptown Jefferson: Temecula’s up-and-coming urban locale

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Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

In the spirit of Mr. Ford, the city of Temecula’s gaze is steadily fixed on the ultimate goal: fulfilling the future community-driven vision for the Jefferson Avenue Study Area. Over the past nine months, the city of Temecula has conducted six visioning workshops, dubbed “Envision Jefferson,” bringing together a diverse mix of property owners, business owners, real estate brokers, and other interested community members to image the future possibilities for this 560-acre site.

Recently called Uptown Jefferson, a name that defines its prospective identity, the Jefferson Avenue Study Area is located immediately north of Temecula’s Old Town, or downtown. It’s bordered by Cherry Street and the city of Murrieta to the north, Interstate 15 to the east, and Murrieta Creek and Diaz Road to the west. The study area is characterized by some of the city’s oldest commercial development.

At one time, the Jefferson Avenue Study Area was vibrant and bustling with activity — after all, Jefferson Avenue was once a part of Highway 395, and the businesses along this route were vibrant and thriving. Following the incorporation of the city in 1989, the area continued to develop under typical post-World War II development patterns: an eclectic mix of auto-oriented light industrial, office, strip-commercial and retail uses serving the local community. But a lot has changed since the “good ol’ days.” The Stater Brothers grocery store that was located in the area has since closed up shop, among other smaller retailers, and newer commercial development has since concentrated elsewhere within the city. Nevertheless, the area still remains an important economic asset to the community, which has affirmed that future efforts should be made to spark its revitalization and ultimate renaissance.

At each of the six visioning workshops, the community began to build the future vision of Uptown Jefferson, one public meeting at a time. Over the course of the visioning process, workshop attendees pondered the question, “How do we get from where we are today, to where we want to go in the future?” They enthusiastically took up the consideration of this question and identified the study area’s future potential, and more specifically, the ways in which they see the area evolving over the next 30 years.

Looking toward the future, meeting attendees forecasted that the area will have an expanded mix of land uses including residential and mixed-use neighborhoods, more robust employment options, and expanded cultural arts and higher-educational opportunities. Community members also expressed their desire to have a range of safe and efficient mobility options, including ways to get around, not only by car but by foot, on a bicycle, or via transit. Green spaces, public plazas and recreational opportunities have also been identified as important features, and are anticipated to be intricately interwoven into the urban environment. Additionally, cultivating a distinctive branding and identity for the area has also been deemed important by workshop attendees.

The community involvement that has occurred at these visioning workshops has been critical in obtaining a clear picture of where the city is going in the future. The future vision that has resulted from this process will help spark revitalization and further the economic success and vitality of the area. The community-based vision that has emerged from the public visioning process will set the stage for a future specific plan, or future blueprint, for the area. The specific plan will be the implementation tool that will be used to bring the community’s vision to fruition. It is with an eye towards the future that the city will develop a new, community-based long-term vision that will ensure and promote livability, mobility, sustainability and prosperity for the area. The specific plan will allow for exciting new opportunities to spur the area’s future revitalization.

The community vision, which has emerged as a result of the public visioning process, will drive what will ultimately become Uptown Jefferson: a unique metropolitan experience, rivaled by no other place in the city or region. So, what can we expect in the future? By peering through a visionary lens, Uptown Jefferson will be Temecula’s newest destination and will provide the city’s newest up-and-coming neighborhoods. Vibrant, sophisticated and unique, the area will be home to a diverse mix of residents. People of all ages, experiences and interests will be drawn to the area by its offering of a more urban lifestyle. The area is envisioned to be up-scale and culturally robust, offering a mix of homes, shops, offices, restaurants and other locally-serving uses, artfully linked together through pedestrian friendly green spaces, sidewalks, and trails.

Uptown Jefferson will soon emerge, driven by a strategic, community-based vision, well-designed and built from the collective efforts of public participation, private development, and public investments. We can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

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