Art Transforms a Neighborhood
Just south and a little east of San Diego’s bustling downtown, the Diamond Neighborhoods are home to many diverse communities, including Hispanic, African American, Filipino, Lao Somali, Samoan, Sudanese, Caucasian, and Chamorro residents. The area’s troubled economic conditions have had physical consequences, leaving the neighborhoods spotted with empty lots and vacant buildings, with few amenities.
But the lively community has lots of stories to tell and the new arts overlay component (converging with a larger master plan for “The Village at Market Creek”) is providing needed urban coherence and giving the community a sense of common identity that had been missing.
We led a multi-disciplinary team of practitioners to create the planning document that is guiding the community’s growth into one of San Diego’s most lively, multi-cultural arts districts. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture an “Our Town” grant to engage local residents, cultural leaders, and regional arts leaders to actively collaborate in the plan development.
The intensive community engagement process included monthly gatherings of a steering committee comprising community representatives, as well as leaders from the arts and culture community. Six workshops, with 80-100 participants at each, included interactive activities that helped community members identify concepts that were incorporated into the planning document.
The final plan knits together business areas, a community center, parks, the creek, pathways, gateways, and streets and intersections, with art and interpretive educational elements woven through the urban fabric. It incorporates recommended opportunity sites for art, design guidelines for future private development and a framework for implementation. The planning document is attracting political and financial support to implement the arts and culture development recommendations for The Village at Market Creek.