At one point, city government was housed in a set of mobile homes, leading a former mayor to opine, “We had the only city hall in California that was registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles."
For my truncated tour, I began on the east side of the channel. The new city hall is a fine architectural addition to the community. The structure fits well with the waterfront character of the community. And of course, it’s a major improvement from mobile homes.
The first look at Victorian Harbor reminded me of Harbor Town. On closer observation, the architectural details and construction quality is better at Harbor Town, but the Victorian Harbor is well-configured. If the housing market sustains the home values, it should be a neighborhood that will age well.
The north end of the channel was my biggest concern about the redevelopment. The connection between the east and west sides of Suisun Channel is defined by a large office building, a Hampton Inn, and a large parking lot. It’s great that hotel and office developers were willing to take a chance on Suisun City. However, the streetscape wasn’t compelling. With most of the retail on the west side, I was concerned that the route wasn’t sufficiently friendly to people from the eastside who wanted to travel on foot or on bicycle. If the streetscape isn’t interesting, the walkable urban concept is undermined.
I later realized that an alternative route exists for walkers and bicyclists along the waterfront, which reduces my concern. However, the walking distance between Victorian Harbor on the east side and the heart of the retail district on the west side remains more than a half mile, which is beyond what many folks will walk. I hope that the long term vision includes retail on the east side to encourage more car-free shopping. Walkable eastside retail would also give children a stronger sense of connection to the community.