Grassroots organization in Santa Clara wants to revive downtown city – CBS San Francisco

SANTA CLARA (BCN) – The people of Santa Clara want to rebuild their downtown area after demolishing it more than 50 years ago.

Members of Reclaiming Our Downtown, a grassroots group in Santa Clara, have led the effort to revitalize the once bustling six-block downtown. They want to give the city center back to its original street network of mixed-use businesses in the city center and a tram system. Today the city center is a ghost town.

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Business owners are hoping Reclaiming our Downtown’s efforts will mean reclaiming space for small businesses as well. Part of the city center now houses an office building that houses a yoga studio, a few restaurants and a bar. A few windows are empty, including an old café-restaurant. A “for rent” sign is now hanging on the window.

The original downtown area was demolished in the 1960s in an effort to eliminate the scourge on housing and businesses. But that meant losing some of the region’s charm. That shave wiped out its movie theater and its small business character.

Since August, the group has consulted with other cities across the country with similar issues. Fort Worth, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tucson, Arizona; West Palm Beach, Florida and Jacksonville, Florida have worked to revive their downtown areas.

“They all did the same in their downtown area,” Reclaiming Our Downtown member Dan Ondrasek told the San Jose Spotlight. “They opened up their streets, but they also generated a tremendous amount of development after doing what they did.”

The group plans to bring their findings to the city over the next few months, and the few restaurants and businesses in the area are thrilled.

“I think the plans are great. It used to be a real downtown, now it’s pretty quiet, ”said Jaden Zhao, owner of Jiaren Cafe & Yoga, in San Jose Spotlight.

Ondrasek and Mary Grizzle, a member of Reclaiming Our Downtown, walked past the cafe and surrounding businesses several times, said Zhao, who called them “passionate.”

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Residents are looking to relocate the city’s neighboring courthouse to make room for the downtown redevelopment, but the state is highly unlikely to agree to relocate the Santa Clara courthouse, which is part of California Superior Court to a new location.

Much of the nearly 25-acre downtown area bounded by Benton, Lafayette and Madison Streets and Homestead Road was demolished in the 1960s to make way for commercial buildings.

In June 2019, the city set aside $ 400,000 to create a new “precise downtown plan” for the 10-block radius – including the six-block core – which was once the downtown area. city ​​of the city.

Andrew Crabtree, the city’s director of community development, worked closely with Reclaiming Our Downtown and the Downtown Santa Clara Community Task Force. Crabtree believes plans for the downtown area should be made within the next year. According to Crabtree, the city is working on land use policies and an environmental impact report for the plan.

“There is a lot of overlap with Reclaiming Our Downtown,” Crabtree told the San Jose Spotlight. “They continue to be involved in the planning process.

Ultimately, residents still need the city’s buy-in. Santa Clara intentionally destroyed downtown in the 1960s. Ondrasek thinks it’s time they made up for what he calls “the worst mistake a Bay Area Council has ever made”.

“Only the town hall has the power to demolish the city center,” he said. “Only the town hall has the power to bring him back. “

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