They’re bullish on downtown Manteca and with good reason.
“They” are a group of 30 people with an economic stake in downtown that are moving forward with formation of a Manteca Downtown Alliance.
The goal of the non-profit organization is to remove impediments in the way of downtown reaching its full potential as well as to promote the economically viable business district.
Ryan Harris, who is among the core group creating the alliance notes downtown already has a wealth of successful salons, retail including four furniture stores, six banks, restaurants, and a number of service concerns.
At the same time there are problematic properties that are boarded up that create issues that are preventing progress.
One of the first goals will be to address safety issues, perceived and otherwise.
“The people who have businesses downtown and who shop downtown don’t feel unsafe,” Harris said.
But he added people not familiar with downtown get an entirely different message when they see boarded up windows, graffiti that isn’t removed and other property maintenance issues connected with specific properties.
The goal, Harris said, is to make downtown so it also feels safe for families.
At the same time they are working to remove downtown’s warts, the Alliance intends to work aggressively to bring more business downtown.
To that end the Alliance sees downtown as an untapped gold mine for entrepreneurs.
Harris notes rents are below market in the heart of a community of 77,000 residents that is poised to grow to 125,700 consumers by 2040. Downtown can also work off draws to Manteca including Bass Pro Shops that lures over 2 million visitors a year from a 100-mile radius, Big League Dreams sports complex with its regional draw of nearly 600,000 based largely on tournament play, and the indoor water park resort the City of Manteca is now negotiating to build on 65 acres the city owns west of Costco.
The Alliance intends to work with property owners and associations that help those interested in opening restaurants and smaller retail ventures. To that end, Harris believes the story that needs to be told is how both property owners and businesses can profit by working together upfront with lower rents and capital investment that will return higher dividends as downtown blossoms.
Harris is among those that have “put his money where his mouth is” by investing in several properties downtown.
Debbie Baglietto, who is part of the Alliance founding group and serves as president of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce, notes the new organization is being formed with five key groups on board — business people, property owners, the City of Manteca, the police department, and the chamber.
Baglietto is a vice president with Oak Valley Community Bank that was drawn to the central district a few years back to open a Manteca branch. It is located just on the northern fringe of downtown at North and Main streets.
The Alliance has essentially accomplished three major milestones critical to taking downtown to the next level while its existence was being forged with downtown business people and landlords working with the Chamber of Commerce to address issues.
Those three milestones are:
Defining downtown’s boundaries and securing City Council adoption.
Carving out two distinct districts within downtown that includes the historic core that has physical issues that require a unique set of rules regarding allowed uses and such in order to transform the core.
Adoption of specific rules for the core that led to the blocking of two attempts to bring uses that have proven problematic and detrimental to downtown — a night club and a boarding house.
Baglietto and Harris don’t see Manteca becoming a carbon copy of Lodi, Turlock or Livermore. Instead they can see Manteca adopting certain elements of the success story of the other three downtowns and then capitalizing on unique opportunities in downtown Manteca including the Transit Center that will have ACE passenger service by 2024 and efforts by Manteca Unified School District to transform Manteca High.
Harris added that there is already growing interest in downtown. Lodi Brewery, as an example, wants to locate in downtown but the two buildings they have looked at today don’t fit their needs.
The Alliance is working on establishing an annual wine stroll/ food truck event as a fundraising as well as a way to market downtown.
Now, though, they are working on securing donations to establish the organization including $1,000 for legal work necessary to secure non-profit status for the state and to establish a website promoting downtown.
Initially membership will be limited to those with businesses or property in the defined downtown district. Eventually they will have auxiliary members from outside of downtown. Voting members and board of director positions will be limited to those with direct downtown ties.
One of the property owners on board is also the biggest downtown property owner — the City of Manteca. That status excludes streets, alleys, parking lots and sidewalks. Instead it refers to the Manteca Transit Center, Library Park, the Manteca Library and a segment of the Tidewater Bikeway.
To contact the Alliance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Harris at 209.740.5440.
To contact Dennis Wyatt@mantecabulletin.com