Illustration by Marc Rosenthal
If Diabloland were France, Walnut Creek would be Paris, right? Well, kinda, but that could change. Other cities in the world east of the Caldecott are luring high-end stores and building theaters and galleries, prompting us to call Walnut Creek City Manager Gary Pokorny to ask if the city will be able to keep its status as our capital of chic.
“You sure know how to hurt a guy,” says Pokorny, with a laugh. “Obviously, we need to pay attention. We can’t rest on our laurels.”
Major developments in the East Bay shopping scene include Blackhawk Plaza’s mega makeover and San Ramon’s recently green-lighted 44-acre downtown, which is planned to draw a major department store. And Livermore is slated to get a high-end outlet shopping center in 2009.
Plus, the Tri-Valley’s arts scene is buzzing: Downtown Livermore’s 500-seat Bankhead Theater opened in October, and San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, with two theaters, had its first show in November. Pleasanton’s Firehouse Arts Center is scheduled to open in 2010, and Livermore hopes to open an 1,800-seat complex for Broadway touring productions in 2012.
Pokorny says he is glad that the East Bay’s growing population wants to support more arts venues. “Anything that makes people more aware of the arts benefits all of us.”
Still, Pokorny believes Walnut Creek’s location is its unassailable selling feature. As Paris has the Seine, Walnut Creek has the 680-24 interchange.
“Walnut Creek is the historical crossroads of the county. That won’t change,” he says.