CPAT study makes Rails to Trails secondary

A volunteer planning team of architects and others specializing in economic development and urban design has drawn up a conceptual plan that presents a new paradigm for developing the downtown and rails to trails area.

Taft Director of Planning and Community Develeopment Mark Staples outlined the Community Planning Assistance Team's final report last week.

It is a "Revitalization strategy for Downtown Taft with a focus on the Center Street corridor."

The plan focusses on Taft's traditional downtown - Center Street - with a departure from the traditional thinking for developing the area with an emphasis commercial development on the Rails to Trails property. 

The plan, which Staples said will be incorporated into a future update of the Downtown Specific Plan, calls for adding up to 600 residental units in the downtown area between Front and Kern and Second and Tenth and includes a propsal for turning the north side of the 300 block of Center Street into a block of three-story apartment buildings with retail on the bottom floor.
Another key proposal is using the Krekler building at the southeast corner of Fourth and Center as a "catalyst project" to refurbish the buidling for possible use as an off-campus extension of Taft College's Transition to Indepdent Living, more residential units or a refurbishment of the old hardwawre store.

The plan is a sharp departure from policy on the Rails to Trails property. 

Key recommendations for that area include:

•Updated Land Use mix can result in 600 new dwelling units

•Do not introduce land uses that compete with Downtown

•Community Commercial opportunity at Dollar General site

•Rails to Trails, Transit Center and Downtown Core connection

•Multi-family residential near Transit Center

•West end develop with community-serving commercial district along 10th Street

•Area designed as an extension of Downtown

Center Street is discussed extensively as the focus of the project.

"(The) existing plans for downtown (are) not visionary or inspiring, no visualizations to bring concepts or ideas to life, does not address specific sites or opportunities to focus attention and resources," the report states.

The report calls Center Street "the center of Taft –traditional economic, social and cultural hub."

It calls for use of a variety of funding mechanisms to finance refurbishing the current strucutures and encourages the use of themes in the revitization, including Taft's oil heritage, car culture.