National Historic District could be the saving grace for a revival of downtown Gilroy
Gilroy’s downtown isn’t dead by a long shot. It’s just kind of leaning up against a wall, chewing on a toothpick. There are several businesses operating there, few of which would support a family. All could use more customers. But there is a kind of lost feeling about what everyone should be doing to re-energize Monterey Street. Fixing the unreinforced masonry buildings is significant, but only a part of what is lacking. It’s not that people aren’t trying. The city is. The Downtown Association is. The retailers are.
But there seems to be no real vision about what the nature of the street should be. There needs to be something more to draw the community in to spend enough money to sustain businesses. As a matter of fact, there has been no discussion that I know about which addresses just who makes up the “community” that we would like to see shopping.
There’s the daytime community made up of the workforce on the street, and hopefully, shoppers. There’s the night time community that comes to be entertained at the restaurants, dancing venues, and the billiard hall. Then there is the Latino community in parts of the city who require what satisfies their style, and there are people who would rather shop at the chi chi outlet stores and don’t find a variation of that in downtown Gilroy. What is one to do?
Someone said to me recently, “we need to work with what we already have.” And I say, yes, but we also need something that is big enough to embrace all the variations in our community in a way that makes us whole on some “One Level,” a level that everyone gets a kick out of, that helps to create a demand for more entertainment and more shops to browse through to find stuff so different that people want to come back and do all their specialty shopping here. A place with atmosphere.
The only thing I can think of that fills all those requirements for Gilroy is a National Historic District.
The prestige of a National Historic District is HUGE, and we have all the pieces to make it happen. We have a local historic district on Monterey Street, we have 50 something buildings that are unique to a period of time when people came from all over the region to shop and do business here. We have the Mills Act in place, which gives building owners property tax breaks for maintaining their buildings according to historic standards. We have volunteers who are willing to do the major part of a survey of the buildings that the National Park Service requires for a District to be put on the National Register.
What would this do for Gilroy’s downtown? National Historic Districts are significant destination places. Combined with the attraction of the outlets, more shoppers would come at first out of curiosity, and then once they found substance, return to shop and to eat. Combined with the South County Winery district, people who came to the area to taste and buy wine would come downtown to eat, and then shop. Combined with the garlic theme, people would come to satisfy their “garlic itch.” The National Historic District would be the magnet.
As for the community as a whole, downtown would be the bones and heart of that place that we call Gilroy, with synergy and with events for everyone. It would be the place that gives us ALL our “sense of place.”
Carol DeSantis, Gilroy
South County Realtors send thanks to all those who helped collect 2 tons of food for needy
The South County Realtor Alliance thanks you, your staff and clients for helping our CanTree program collect over two tons of food during this past holiday season. All of the food was distributed to local families in need.
We also raised and distributed $1,000 to Crossroads Christian in Morgan Hill, $1,000 to Reach Out of Morgan Hill, $400 to Baccardo Center of San Martin and $2,500 to St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy.
With your help with the One Warm Coat and Toys for Tots drive we were able to donate more than 100 coats and more than 50 toys. These items also stayed within the local community!
SCRA is local group of real estate professionals who have continued to serve our local community through our CanTree program. You are welcome to visit our website at www.SCRA1.com or Facebook at South County Realtors Alliance.
Our next goal is to provide local high school seniors with scholarships for college. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like any additional information about our programs.
Thank you for helping us reach our great success with our CanTree program. We could not achieve our goals without you!
Lisa Cassara, Gilroy, 2011 Past President of SCRA