“Club of Knowledge Hunters”

Restaurants & retail only on ground floors in downtown?

Posted by superstar23 on September 17, 2008

Manteca needs to require that only restaurants and retail are allowed on the ground floor of key blocks in downtown in a bid to make sure the central district doesn’t lose its economic vitality with 1.45 million square feet of new commercial space going up along the Highway 120 Bypass corridor.

That is one of six recommendations Economic Research Associates – a consulting firm hired by the city to conduct a $62,000 study of retail and restaurant potential – made to allow downtown to compete with the “Main Street” atmosphere that Poag & McEwen is creating at the new Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley lifestyle center.

Although ERA was hired to examine the retail sector citywide rather than downtown specific, they made some suggestions for downtown Manteca based on experience with over 100 downtown revitalization projects.

ERA consultants said the retail and restaurants only suggestion on the ground floor of select blocks was “essential for the creation of a good pedestrian experience.” The firm said the continuity of shops and restaurants should be uninterrupted by banks, driveways and other uses.

Other recommendations for downtown in the report being presented to the City Council at tonight’s 7 p.m. meting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., includes:

• making a concerted effort to attract smaller locally owned restaurants and specialty shops that can’t afford the cost of leasing space in malls.

• protect, preserve, and renovate noteworthy older buildings of historic interest.

• create a downtown focal point that could include a public plaza, fountain, outdoor dining areas and shade trees.

Manteca is in the process of doing just that with the expansion of Library Park. Mayor Willie Weatherford has suggested a smaller plaza – with outdoor dining plus a new two-story building – could be a redevelopment agency project for the vacant lot on the northwest corner of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue.

• create a system of public parking that ultimately will allow the construction of multiple level parking structures in the next decade or so.

Such a suggestion was made back in 2000 as part of the 2020 Task Force Committee report.

• property owners in the downtown area should consider forming an organization to “re-invest” in the area in partnership with the redevelopment agency.

The ERA report also noted there are two other things Manteca can do to enhance the economic vitality of the private sector as well as attract desired high end retailers and restaurants.

One of those suggestions is to create new executive housing neighborhoods.

The last such project was the gated Terracina community off of Northgate Drive. A similar gated community but with estate-size lots has been approved to be constructed as part of the Shadowbrook project off of Southland. But other than that there is no other executive-style housing on the planning books.

The other suggestion is planning for an auto dealership district or center by putting aside 50 acres for that purpose.

Manteca is outside the 10-mile radius that most manufacturers have to prevent encroachment on dealerships in urban areas. ERA believes Manteca has the potential to add three or four new automobile dealerships over the next 10 years and up to eight total in the next 20 years.

Specific dealerships to target are Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, and Subaru. All of those lines – with the exception of Subaru – have stores in Modesto, Stockton, or Tracy.


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