Meet the Leader of San Mateo’s Downtown Association
San Mateo’s Downtown is a beloved gem on the Peninsula. It boasts award-winning restaurants, shopping right off of the Caltrain line, the popular Central Park and even a university dedicated to tech entrepreneurs.
As the City’s cool hub of activity is discovered by more folks from throughout the region, the Downtown Association has hired a visionary executive director to lead the group’s next phase. Meet Ann Fienman, a recent Bay Area transplant who previously served as the executive director of the Boston Society of Architects, the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
“It’s a big advantage to be in a walkable downtown, a walkable community like San Mateo,” Ann said in a story for the Daily Journal. “[I’ve had a] longtime interest in historic preservation of urban downtowns. I’ve lived in these kinds of walkable neighborhoods all my life and it’s something I’m really committed to. It’s community-based economic development and small business representation in thriving downtown.”
A New Jersey native, Ann spent 30 years in Boston where she met her husband before the couple decided to move to California. She and her husband, who works in the 3-D printing field, have two adult daughters.
Positive changes have been in the works as the DSMA is rebranding and plans to move to a new office at the Mills Square Office Tower on South Ellsworth Avenue. The organization produces annual events such as the downtown Wine Walk, Christmas on B Street, the San Mateo Street Festival and other community-serving events.
The City is currently undergoing a Downtown Engagement process, receiving input from community members. The year-long process will soon result in a strategic vision for how San Mateo’s Downtown will grow and evolve.
As shopping trends have changed alongside advancements in technology, Ann noted that promoting a sense of discovery for those walking through downtown is key to enticing consumers.
“Downtown gives you a little bit of that exploration opportunity and it does seem that there’s a growing attraction for that,” Ann said. “Maybe perhaps because we’re spending so much more of our time online in virtual interactions, [it] makes people still crave the real world interaction.”
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