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Napa Sonoma Magazine
Summer / Fall 2006

 
A Town Where There Was None

Windsor gets a charming new town square—and a cultural and social infusion

By Paul Franson

Creating an old-fashioned downtown where none existed seems the work of movie set creators or Disneyland planners. But one developer is transforming the town of Windsor, in Sonoma County, into a vibrant cosmopolitan center.

Unlike Petaluma, Sebastopol, or Healdsburg, Windsor never had a downtown; it was a smattering of new residential areas with a few old buildings in a small commercial core. Over the past few years, developer Orrin Thiessen has built the Town Green Village, a collection of commercial outlets that flanks two sides of Windsor’s downtown park. (The other two sides of the park are anchored by city government offices and Windsor Vineyards.) Town Green Village’s buildings—designed in the style of the old West—house retail spaces and restaurants on their first floors, and residences on the upper floors. During the summer, the town green hosts farmers markets, concerts, and movies, and is a prime picnic and play spot for families. The culinary establishments include a variety of restaurants: Langley’s on the Green, Patterson’s Irish Pub, Mexican Lupe’s, Italian Mangiamo, Vietnamese Truc Lihn, K. C.’s Downtown Grill, L’Affiette French restaurant, and Mirepoix. Few children or adults can resist Powell’s sweet shop, with its new and retro candies and a real old-fashioned soda fountain, or a trip to one of the two bookstores—one geared toward children—and a newsstand with some 4,000 titles. Windsor Wine Bar specializes in local wines, although it also carries wines from around the world. Many of the shops attract tourists, including a map and travel store, a scrapbook store, numerous clothing and gift shops, home furnishings stores, and an art gallery.

The area is a bustle of activity night and day, and even more properties are planned over the next few years. Next time you’re in the area, stop by Windsor and see what it’s all about.

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