The pandemic made for a plethora of communication and business-related challenges; for companies that rely on in-person engagement to help foster awareness and strengthen community outreach, shifting to an online model meant re-thinking how to deliver information effectively.
When Harvest Properties submitted the pre-application for The Landing, a waterfront development project in East Palo Alto, the plan was to host the first formal community outreach meeting in early April 2020. However, with the pandemic on the rise and citizen safety a top priority, the meeting was put on hold.
As Bay Area locals, investment partners Blair Volckmann and Preston O'Connell from Harvest Properties know the value of community involvement. Recognizing that there is generally a lack of trust between residents and developers, Blair and Preston take a community-centric and transparent approach to development projects. They believe that projects are more successful long-term if supported by the community and designed to enhance its surroundings.
Valuing personal connection but faced with the reality that in-person community meetings weren't viable during the pandemic, Blair and Preston made the tough decision to take community outreach online.
Like many businesses pivoting in-person experiences to the virtual realm, Harvest Properties looked for multi-media and technical expertise to help create a seamless solution. As existing business partners, Harvest Properties sought WebSight Design’s help in developing materials and enabling online engagement. In January 2021, thelanding-epa.com published video presentations covering what they learned, design themes, and community benefits.
On February 4, 2021, the first virtual community meeting was held online via zoom, enabling Harvest Properties to engage with the community, review where they are in the pre-application process, and share the exciting designs for The Landing. The online meeting also provided community members with several ways to engage via phone, email, or in-app chat with resources readily available for English and Spanish-speaking individuals.
From discussing architectural styles that reflect the community to sharing the plan to subsidize community space and the $1,000,000 pledge for an onsite art fund, Harvest Properties can now virtually connect with the East Palo Alto community. Listening sessions and an online survey continue to inform and shape The Landing's project plan, which will provide access to the waterfront and Baylands while supporting local businesses and enabling new job opportunities.
A Bright Future: As fellow bay area locals with a pulse on local real estate, we enjoy the idea of watching the redevelopment of vacant, underutilized sites transform into active street fronts and community gathering places. We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Harvest Properties and lend a hand in helping the East Palo Alto community engage with The Landing waterfront development project. Whether you want to check out our multimedia skills or want to learn more about the project, we'd like to encourage you to visit www.thelanding-epa.com.
About The Landing Waterfront Development: Harvest Properties hopes to transform 1990 Bay Road, 1175 Weeks Street, and 1250 Weeks Street from a vacant site into a vibrant new waterfront development, employment center, and gathering place for East Palo Alto residents. The proposed project will create seven acres of community open space along the waterfront, bring locally-run retail and new jobs, as well as needed infrastructure improvements to the Ravenswood Business District. The Landing has the potential to enliven an underutilized area and play a major role in transforming the RBD into a Cultural, Arts, and Business District.