CHICO – Lost Park, northeast of downtown Chico, may see some heavy development as the city potentially looks to bring new buildings and parking to the area.
Behind the drive for development is Chico Deputy City Manager Jennifer McCarthy who presented the idea to city council during Tuesday’s meeting with a slideshow of the overall proposal. The report was informational only and no vote was given by the council.
“Lost Park is a really economic project that is going to serve the city as a gateway,” McCarthy said of the project. “It is envisioned as a development that reactivates the scenic greenway along Big Chico Creek, allows for a mix of activity including commercial, housing and parking, and creates a connection to both the Downtown Corridor and the University.” Is.”
An example was used for Ashland, Oregon, a city that includes walkways around the northern part of its downtown area with a greenway, businesses, and restaurants. Sections of Ashland are also used for events such as artisan markets.
A memorandum of cooperation has been created between the state of Chico and the city to move forward on the project. McCarthy said the next steps would be filing a request for qualification, followed by a request for proposal and eventually community-linked designs.
“This would be what is called a public-private partnership where the private sector would really be the leader in the design, financing and construction,” McCarthy said. “How that process is carried out will be negotiated with the final agency.”
During the council meeting in which the presentation was made, Mayor Andrew Coolidge expressed some concerns over funding for the project.
“Whenever we do anything, people go ‘Why is the city investing millions of dollars in this instead of fixing my roads? Coolidge said. “So we’re not investing millions of dollars in this?”
McCarthy explained that the project differs from others undertaken by the city because it will create options for the city to look at financially such as selling parts of the property to potential businesses or creating lease agreements.
“These are options the city will engage in negotiations with,” McCarthy said. “But from the point of view of the city there is no direct pocket for real development.”
Chico State Associate Vice President of Facilities Management and Services Mike Guzzi is the university’s key staff member who will be working with the city on this project. Gujji said the university’s interest in this project came from the lack of conference space on the campus.
Guzzi said, “We completed our master plan process that we started in 2018 and one of the real major issues that we identified was the lack of convention center space and hotel space for our large events to be held at the university. Was.” “And so there was interest from our campus to partner with the city to find a place where we can have some sort of convention and convention capability.”
Re-creating Lost Park is not a new idea. In 2000, the city budgeted funds to bring in a consultant on a proposed project to look into the feasibility of development in the area.
“A feasibility study was conducted to investigate what is the highest and best use of this asset,” McCarthy said. “And back then, it was mixed use—no surprise there, it’s a beautiful piece of property. It’s a gateway property into the downtown area.”
Despite the findings, McCarthy said the project had not progressed at the time for a number of reasons.
“It was put on a shelf, but it was never really forgotten about,” McCarthy said. “And then you fast forward to 2019 and the conversation about this property starts all over again. And then it started cooperatively with Chico State, where it’s basically just looking at our municipality. was the city.
In its 2019/2020 budget, the city council allocated $25,000 for the effort to re-imagine Lost Park. Chico State set aside $15,000 to go toward an economic development partnership with the city.
Both the state and city of Chico began planning in August to begin putting together ideas on what could be done in the park.
Chico City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. at 421 Main St. Meetings are free and open to the public.