Trio of downtown buildings could face demolition

Trio of downtown buildings could face demolition

Three city owned, unoccupied buildings in downtown Gilroy will
likely be demolished this fall to eventually make room for a
growing arts community room to expand. Full article
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Three city owned, unoccupied buildings in downtown Gilroy will likely be demolished this fall to eventually make room for a growing arts community room to expand.

The demolition of the unreinforced masonry structures, located at 7347, 7353 and 7355 Monterey Road, was recommended by the Gilroy Historic Heritage Committee and the Gilroy Planning Commission, and needed only the Gilroy City Council’s approval Monday night to become official.

“It’s time for them to come down,” Councilman Bob Dillon said Monday afternoon. “They’re eyesores and they need to go.”

New grass stretching from Monterey Road to Eigleberry Street – which is expected to be utilized by the nearby Gilroy Center for the Arts – will be planted where the buildings once stood.

City Engineer Rick Smelser said the buildings could be demolished as soon as October.

“I’m hoping that’s its going to happen really, really soon,” said Sylvia Myrvold, Gilroy Arts Alliance president. “We’re hoping to do some outdoor events there.”

Myrvold called the lawn and simple landscape that would the buildings’ footprint “just perfect for us.”

“We can always put a small stage out there, and people can just bring their chair and blankets,” she said. The idea of almost having a mini park downtown is just wonderful.”

In May, Don and Karen Christopher donated $50,000 to the Gilroy Foundation to renovate the arts center – located at 7341 Monterey Road – which needed major upgrades to its lighting and restrooms, Myrvold said.

The center is the interim home of the Gilroy Arts Alliance and sits on land purchased for the construction of a new $25 million center. That project, however, has been delayed because of the Great Recession, said Donna Pray, executive director of the Gilroy Foundation.

The rest of the land is used for the Gilroy Demonstration Garden, and future plans call for an outdoor theater at the back corner of the property located at Seventh and Eigleberry streets.

Councilman Peter Leroe-Munoz, who is also a member of the Historical Heritage Committee, said the committee took a long look at the buildings’ cultural worth.

“Whenever we look at these kind of things, you’re always looking for some kind of historical value. In this case, there wasn’t really anything,” Leroe-Munoz said. “There wasn’t anything about these buildings historic to Gilroy. That made our decision a little bit easier to make in that sense.”

Leroe-Munoz said the destruction of the buildings would be worth it because it would allow the Gilroy Arts Alliance space to expand.

“Anything the city can do to help that growing arts community. It’s a small group but its growing,” Leroe-Munoz said. “It’s important for the arts, but also as part of a downtown revitalization strategy.”

The demolition also allowed the city to “spruce up the area,” he said.

“If a building serves no other purpose, if its not habitable, it doesn’t make it sense to let it sit empty or vacant,” Leroe-Munoz said.

Dillon agreed.

“Open space and grass will look better than they (the buildings) do,” he said.

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