Could Gilroy become a recreation destination?
That is the focus of a recently-formed group that has tasked itself with identifying ways to grow the city’s assets and elevate its status as a visitor destination.
The Gilroy Economic Development Partnership, which held its first meeting in March, consists of representatives from the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, Downtown Business Association, Visit Gilroy, Gilroy Gardens and Gavilan College, as well as Gilroy’s mayor and city administrator.
Mark Turner, president/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, presented the group’s initiatives to the Gilroy City Council on Aug. 17.
The group has focused its efforts on three areas: the proposed ice rink at the Sports Park, the 536 acres at Gilroy Gardens and downtown’s Gourmet Alley.
Turner said the goal is to create revenue-generating opportunities for the city, especially crucial during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in full economic recovery mode at this point,” he said. “This creates a vision and direction for our city.”
The city remains in discussions with Sharks Sports Entertainment to build a recreational ice skating facility at the Sports Park located on Monterey Road.
The 536 acres on Hecker Pass, owned by the city, houses Gilroy Gardens. The park is considering an expansion that would add bike trails, zip lines and other recreational activities on a 350-acre hillside behind the gardens.
Downtown property owners are eyeing the “activation” of Gourmet Alley, which stretches from Third to Seventh streets. A section of the alley between Fourth and Fifth streets is the initial focus, where earthquake retrofits of the buildings are nearing completion. Downtown owners envision a variety of restaurants and other businesses to attract visitors to the area.
Councilmember Peter Leroe-Muñoz said the city’s recreational infrastructure gives it a competitive advantage over other cities in the region.
“We have the space, we have the existing infrastructure with the gardens, the sports park, the golf course and the wineries,” he said. “We have all of that. This makes perfect sense and it’s something that we can do that other cities can’t.”
During the Aug. 17 meeting, the council directed city staff to begin developing a request for proposal document for the 536 acres at Gilroy Gardens, which would be brought back at a later meeting for consideration.
“We have sat back in the past waiting for someone to come ask us what they could do with the property,” Interim City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said. “Knowing that it is the city’s largest physical asset and maybe one of its most valuable, I’m excited to get the ball rolling. Let’s put ourselves out there and see if anyone has any ideas.”