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Mountain View - Downtown Precise Plan

Client: City of Mountain View

Mountain View’s downtown was in sharp decline in the early 1980’s. The Downtown Precise Plan’s educational process, revitalization strategy and development regulations became the basis for its successful revitalization.

Castro Street streetscape today with infill development in the Historic Retail subdistrict, shaped by Precise Plan regulations.


A new strip-type building built under pre-Precise Plan zoning on Castro Street shocked the City Council and the community.

  • Commercial strips and malls had taken most business away from downtown, except for a few restaurants serving inexpensive lunches.
  • The arrival of a strip-type building on Castro Street shocked the community and the City Council.
  • Castro Street, the 4 lane main street, was auto-dominated and a weak pedestrian retail setting.
  • The City Council learned that existing zoning was inadequate and wanted downtown to thrive.


  • Educate the community and City Council on the fundamentals of downtown activity, economics, traffic, and placemaking.
  • Build a consensus for revitalization.
  • Prepare an innovative development strategy and new regulations to promote a vital district 
  • Integrate a public realm catalyst project to transform the district's long-dormant image.



  • Education from Michael Freedman opened the door to innovative revitalization strategies.
  • The strategies and an early format of form-based regulations were the core of the Precise Plan.
  • Improvements to downtown's main street, Castro Street (also designed by Freedman and Tung) served as transformative catalyst projects.
  • The Downtown Precise Plan was adopted in 1988 and has been updated as downtown has grown.
  • 1989 Honorable Mention from the Northern Section, Calif. Chapter of the APA.
  • 1993 Honor Award from the AIA, San Francisco Chapter, to the City of Mountain View for downtown’s revitalization.
  • In part due to its revitalization success, the VTA selected Downtown Mountain View as the terminus for the Tasman West light rail line (1999).
  • A 2011 Downtown Market Study by EPS concluded, “…only a handful of locations in the Peninsula, if not the entire San Francisco Bay Area, provide a comparable mix and depth of retail, residential, and office activity with excellent transit access, all successfully integrated in a single neighborhood or district.”  Furthermore, “In many ways the Downtown is serving as de-factor ‘incubator’ space for the larger Silicon Valley region and thus as a valuable economic development asset for the City.”

In collaboration with:

ROMA Design Group, DKS Associates, James Gillam, Mountain View City Staff