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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Good call by Livermore Downtown

Uploaded: May 1, 2018
Twenty-seven years ago, the fledgling Livermore Downtown association launched its Wine and Honey Festival on First Street.

Traditionally, it has been staged the first weekend in May with weather that has ranged from rain showers to ideal to smoking hot. Things changed this year with the first weekend including Cinco de Mayo. In a testament to how strong the restaurant and bar business has grown downtown, the association wisely decided not to overshadow Cinco de Mayo with its street fest.

Shifting it a week later also was a no-go because of Mother’s Day on that Sunday. The decision was to move it to the third weekend, which would be a good long-time home. The chances of great weather are better.

Over the years, the festival also has grown dramatically to where 150,000 people are expected downtown to sip wine and beer and visit up to 300 vendors along many closed streets. When the event started, there were not many wineries in the Livermore Valley—there were 13 wineries as members of the Livermore Winegrowers Association in 1993. It now boasts more than 50.

There also were no breweries—there now are three craft breweries in Livermore.

The association has struggled through some challenging times with limited activity downtown, but it’s now stewarding a vibrant dining and entertainment hub—even without the large theater.

Speaking of Livermore, last month MidPen Housing celebrated the groundbreaking of an unusual community at Chestnut Square. MidPen, a non-profit developer, builds affordable housing communities for seniors and families. What’s unusual about Chestnut Square is the multi-generational approach.

The first phase with senior housing includes 72 units for low-income residents, with five set aside for formerly homeless people.

The second phase, built by for-profit builder Warmington Homes, will include 44 townhomes that will be sold at market prices.

Phase 3, built by MidPen, will include 42 affordable homes for working families plus a shared community courtyard and BBQ area.

It’s MidPen’s first project in Livermore and a noteworthy project.

Incidentally, MidPen also is developing the Kottinger Gardens project on Kottinger Avenue in Pleasanton. The first phase will be formally dedicated on May 16, the same day that ground will be formally broken on phase 2, the site of what used to be Pleasanton Gardens. Both Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens residents now are living in the new units at Kottinger Gardens. Former Pleasanton Gardens residents will have the option to return once the new project is completed in 2019.
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