Plaza Park Infill Development
In its heyday in the 1920s, the Plaza Park was surrounded by fine, multi-story brick buildings and was a center of Oxnard’s commercial and civic life. Some buildings were lost to fire – the iconic Oxnard Hotel on the northwest corner of Fifth and C – and others were lost to redevelopment later on.
The Charrette team and participants strongly agreed that surrounding the park once again with multi-story mixed use buildings – with ground floor shops and restaurants and housing on upper floors – would be the best way to re-center the Downtown and the City on the Plaza Park. The primary characteristics envisioned for these buildings include:
- Tall ground floors – typically 18 to 20 feet from ground to second floors – to provide tall windows and high ceilings for ground floor spaces.
- Large canvas awnings – or second floor balconies – to shade south, west and east facing shopfronts.
- Simple, elegant architecture, whether brick, Mediterranean or modern in character.
- Sidewalks as wide a possible, including the repaved north plaza at the Park, and a widened, reconfigured sidewalk and corner plazas along the south side of Fifth Street.
- Active ground floor uses fronting the Park.
The 1993 Master Plan recommended a strategy of recruiting the finest restaurants in town, representing all of Oxnard’s many ethnic communities, to surround the Park with a “Downtown restaurant row”. We believe this is still a good idea.
As food culture continues to gain importance in American culture, diners travel from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley in search of fine East Asian, Mexican, Indian, Pacific Island, and other cuisines. Oxnard already has many fine restaurants of these cultures, but sprinkled around town in strip malls. If they were organized around the Plaza Park as a dining event, they could have the potential to regularly draw visitors from a very wide trade area.
Such an emphasis on food would be in addition, not in lieu of, and emphasis on the arts, as described on the following posts.