In June 2018, the City of Redding, located in northern California’s Shasta County, was awarded $20 million through the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program to support the development of the Block 7 Net Zero Housing and Downtown Activation Project.
Developed by K2 Land and Investment, LLC, in collaboration with the City of Redding, the McConnell Foundation, Shasta Living Streets, and a number of other community organizations, this project will build 78 new homes and over 12,000 square feet of commercial retail space in downtown Redding. The project also includes almost 4 miles of bike lanes and over half a mile of sidewalks and urban greening elements that will complete a river trail connection from Turtle Bay Exploration Park to downtown. In addition, there will be a bikeshare program for the broader community, and funding for active transportation education.
The AHSC program supports developments that make it easier for Californians to drive less by ensuring housing and jobs are accessible by walking, biking, and transit—precisely what the Block 7 project is designed to do. Shasta County ranks sixth highest for levels of pedestrian death and bicycle collision in the US, and Redding community members lack convenient access to transit. By partnering with a variety of local organizations, the developer was able to engage community members to ensure that the project would address their most pressing needs. Around 130 community members attended the first outreach event, which was hosted by The McConnell Foundation. The Shasta Arts Council provided child care at the event and engaged young people by asking them to draw their visions for the project, including ideas for greenery, playgrounds, and parks.
At the second outreach event, community members filled out comment cards with requests for bike rentals, more bike racks, accessible public bathrooms, and downtown shopping centers. All of these suggestions were incorporated into the final project. Now that the award has been granted, the McConnell Foundation has these comment cards displayed as a visual reminder of the importance of engaging community members in the decisions that impact their lives. According to Rachel Hatch of the McConnell Foundation, this venture will finally allow community members to “make the healthy choice, the easy choice.”