What a difference a mile makes.
After decades on the outskirts of town at 6400 Monterey St, the Gilroy Dispatch has moved back where it belongs, in the center of Gilroy, at 64 W Sixth St, doors down from The Milias restaurant. It’s about a mile away, but a world apart.
We’ve got big windows looking out on the street; we’re walking distance from City Hall and a slew of stores and restaurants. We feel a renewed energy for the future of Gilroy and a greater appreciation for its past.
Newspaper offices should be downtown, where the action is. They should be places where the community can come visit and give story ideas or contribute their own writing.
Unlike so many cities across the country where downtowns have died because of big box stores, Gilroy has hung on. Yes, people complain about it not looking as chicas Morgan Hill, but we see a bright, bold future here and are thrilled to be a part of it.
We look south to the train station and can see the high speed rail stopping there. We can see some high rises, but tasteful ones, with stores on the ground and nice apartments above. We can see bigger corporations finally making their way south and creating jobs here because we have good housing and transit.
It’s still largely a blank canvas that needs serious development, but we see what’s been done to downtowns in Willow Glen, Los Gatos and Morgan Hill. We know with the right vision and community spirit, Gilroy can soon be as good as or better than they are. We have things they don’t have.
For one, we will be a major transit center. Second, we aren’t all foo-foo. We have local businesses downtown, not chain stores. We have a vibrant and authentic Latino community and shops that take you south of the border. Our restaurants serve real food, not modern art. With proper city planning, downtown can be a destination for tourists and residents, with a mix of new housing, businesses and community amenities.
We recently heard Chamber of Commerce President Mark Turner make an argument that people don’t move to Gilroy to live in apartments, they want to have picket fences and yards. We disagree. People will move here for a range of housing, including apartments downtown, particularly if they are affordable. That model is working all over the Bay Area. Oakland has gone from being the underbelly of the Bay to a coveted live/work community. If you haven’t been up there in a while, take a look and see how much it’s changed.
We are optimistic about downtown’s prospects and thrilled to be here. A few years ago, the Dispatch was on the verge of going out of business after publishing continuously since 1868. New ownership has brought it back from the brink. Now, the question we hear most often is can we publish more days a week. (We do at gilroydispatch.com, where you can now see a video of the old Dispatch in the 1950s.)
Maybe it’s because of all the windows in the new place, but we want to increase our accessibility. We invite you to stop by with your news tips. We’ll have an opening party soon and will keep you posted. We’d also like to reestablish an editorial feedback board—community members who critique the newspaper, write for it and help guide its direction. We’ll pick up the lunch tab at the monthly meeting.
If you are interested, drop a line to [email protected].