You won’t get too far with Ryan Harris if you start putting down downtown Manteca.
The 28-year-old knows the truth about downtown. He knows there are a lot of success stories. He knows it provides jobs for more than 400 people. And he knows the potential.
And his faith in downtown’s future as Manteca starts moving toward 125,700 residents by 2040 as the city adds more than 2,000 new residents a year is demonstrated by the fact he has put his money where his mouth is. Harris owns two of the biggest buildings — and arguably the most stunning — in downtown. They include the 8,000-square-foot Accent Carpets building in the 100 block of North Main Street and the modernistic concrete glass structure designed in 1960 by a Swiss engineering firm for the original owner that was San Joaquin Federal Savings on the southeast corner of Maple and Yosemite avenues.
The latter building is where his partner Jennifer Christopher has enjoyed success from Day One when she located her hair saloon and spa there in 2014 and renamed it Studio 150.
Studio 150 is preparing to move kitty corner across the street to where Marjie Thomas operated her popular boutique for years that was known as The Pumpkin Patch. The decision to make the move was based on several factors. When dentist Masood Cajee moved out of the bottom floor of the building and into the refurbished Manteca Dental office on Sycamore Avenue near Library Park, Harris noticed an uptick in inquiries about businesses interested in downtown including Lodi Brewery that is searching for an appropriate location. They also had more space than they needed.
There are also entrepreneurs seeking to reopen the former Kelley Brothers Brewery & Brickyard Oven Restaurant as an events center. At the same time about 30 downtown businesses and landlords have decided to band together to form a Downtown Business Alliance.
“This space (the Studio 150) building is ideal for a restaurant or retail uses,” Harris said. “It is adjacent to a municipal parking lot that has 50 to 60 stalls and has a lot of traffic in a great location.”
Harris — who makes his living selling real estate through Perez Realty where he works with his cousin James Perez as well as with property investments — added that all up and decided the building at Maple and Yosemite avenues has the potential to trigger movement toward the next level for downtown.
He has put up the 6,000-square-foot building for sale for $699,000 or for lease for $5,000 a month with the decision on which way to go depending upon what the market bears.
So far the interest is strong. Harris has interested parties going through the building at least once every two days.
“It has great potential for a (pub-style) restaurant with dining on the (top floor) and a tap room on the lower level,” Harris said.
He noted those interested in opening a restaurant envision making extensive use of the generous upper level balcony for patio dining as well as the below sidewalk level garden patio that is accessed by large sliding glass doors that open up to the lower level they see as a tap room.
“The great thing is there are no load-bearing walls to worry about,” he noted.
That’s because the structure built in 1960 makes extensive use of concrete, glass, lines, and open space to create an architectural statement that remains fresh today.
With retail space sparse in other high trafficked areas except for The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, Harris sees an advantage for downtown especially since other areas are demanding $2 plus per square foot for leases.
The 2002 Sierra High grad sees investing in downtown as a no brainer.
“There are six successful salons (downtown that are) patronized by women,” Harris said in reference to foot traffic for future businesses.
There is also the Post Office, six banks, and five furniture stores enjoying long-term success that in several instances date back more than 20 years.
Harris notes Manteca has provided a living for three generations of his family since his grandfather emigrated from Spain to farm here. His grandfather was the sole owner or partner in three liquor stores in Manteca — Jim’s Liquor where Regal Signs & Awards is now located on West Yosemite, Jim & Art’s Liquors in the Cabral Center where the Pizza Guys now do business, and House of Liquors on Center Street.
Harris said he does get asked from some people why he has invested money in downtown.
He simply points to the abundance of success stories that fill the central district that easily outnumber problematic properties that he believes will change through a coordinated downtown effort working with the city to enforce property maintenance laws.
“Jennifer has 15 stylists working (at Studio 150) that are successfully making a living downtown,” Harris said as one example.
He points to the potential the coming Altamont Corridor Express commuter train service to the Manteca Transit Center will create.
“Everyone in Manteca has to go on Yosemite Avenue or Main Street at some time to get somewhere,” he added.
Then there are 9,000 housing units either moving forward for construction or in planning stages that are expected by conservative projections to move Manteca from 77,000 residents today to 125,700 in 2040.
“How can downtown not succeed?” he asked.
Harris, who is also heading up the effort to form the Manteca Downtown Business Alliance, can be reached at 209.740.5440.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com