– Against the backdrop of a massive gray wall rising on the
eastern side of Pacheco Pass Shopping Center, dozens of local
officials, family and friends came together for an apt tribute to
Bill Lindsteadt, the man responsible for transforming a once sleepy
agriculture town into a bustling commerci
Gilroy – Against the backdrop of a massive gray wall rising on the eastern side of Pacheco Pass Shopping Center, dozens of local officials, family and friends came together for an apt tribute to Bill Lindsteadt, the man responsible for transforming a once sleepy agriculture town into a bustling commercial center.
Lindsteadt, who died in January after nine years as the city’s first economic development director, had his name memorialized Tuesday in the form of a road that will bear his name: Lindsteadt Way. The road, located in the heart of the shopping center he helped create, bisects Camino Arroyo and will one day connect Costco and Lowe’s to the Wal-Mart Supercenter to the east.
Mayor Al Pinheiro said the day represented a sad and happy occasion, a fitting tribute but one they would have preferred to share with Lindsteadt, who had planned to retire at the end of 2005.
“Every time we go through this intersection, we’ll remember Bill,” Pinheiro said.
Other speakers used words like “tenacious” and “visionary” to describe Lindsteadt, whose hard-charging style helped transform Gilroy into a regional epicenter for retail shopping in less than a decade.
A representative of State Assemblyman Simón Salinas, D-Salinas, said staffers preparing a state assembly bill in his honor were amazed by Lindsteadt’s résumé .
“How could this man have done so much in so little time?” she asked.
Lindsteadt’s principal accomplishment entailed orchestrating a special tax district to finance the widening of Highway 152, a move that allowed the creation of Gilroy Crossing and Pacheco Pass shopping centers.
He also worked with city officials to craft economic incentives to lure big names like Costco and Target, helping to buoy the city budget as other parts of California went into an economic tailspin.
Under his stewardship, the city’s annual taxable sales revenues spiked from $600 million in 1996 to $1.16 billion in 2003-’04 fiscal year.
His efforts to bring about the city’s commercial expansion recently earned the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation a grand prize for innovative development partnerships, an annual award from the California Association for Local Economic Development. During an awards ceremony last week, the statewide association also presented Lindsteadt’s wife, Raisa, with a Shining Star award for the former EDC director’s efforts to promote economic development throughout the region and state.
On Tuesday morning, an emotional Raisa Lindsteadt used a pair of giant scissors for the traditional ribbon-cutting. She was then hoisted by a crane to unveil the green and white road sign bearing her husband’s name.
“I can’t believe that he was as loved as he was,” she said, overcome by the number of people on hand. “I knew he did a lot, and he loved this city.”