By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
‘The Wall’ + $80,000 + Thinking big = Big potential for downtown Manteca
the wall
The City of Manteca 11 months ago spent $80,000 buying two parcels covering 6,500 square feet in the 300 block of West Yosemite that includes “the wall” and a parking lot developed with RDA money.

Eleven months ago, the City of Manteca bought “The Wall.”

It has stood for 40 plus years in the 300 block of West Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.

“The Wall” is a ruin, if you will, of the start of downtown’s glory days,

The Roaring 20’s a century ago gave the downtown area of the city that had  been incorporated five years prior a presence out-of-proportion to the city’s 1,286 residents.

It was an era long before Sam Walton opened his first Walmart or Jeff Bezos came up with the idea to sell books on the Internet via a company called Amazon.

The age of the super-commuter had yet to dawn. Traveling to San Jose or San Francisco was an overnight trip.

Yosemite Avenue was hotel row back then.

All except the Waukeen Hotel were second floor affairs. Some live on today as efficiency apartments.

The Waukeen Hotel was all hotel from the ground floor to the third floor.

It abutted “The Wall” and stood on the northwest corner of Yosemite and Sycamore avenues.

A deadly fire in the 1970s gutted the Waukeen and the adjoining building. All that was left was “The Wall.”

In June of 2022, the City Council authorized the purchase of the “The Wall” and the two parcels on either side for $80,000.

 Manteca’s leaders had no specific plans for the 6,500-square-foot property.

They did, however, know that it could become the site of a catalyst project that could rev up investment in downtown and take the city’s central district to the next level.

That’s because other cities in California have a history of buying blighted property in downtown areas and making a silk purse out of the proverbial sow’s ear.

An inkling of what a catalyst might be is surfacing in talks between the city and private sector investors.

And it could lead to a four-story structure with commercial and parking on the ground level and apartments above.

The possibilities include at-market and affordable housing in the business model of the workforce housing known as Juniper Apartments on Atherton Drive.

Whether a particular project materializes from the efforts will bring housing and more commercial space downtown is an unknown. A lot of things have to be discussed and  addressed. Numbers crunched. That type of thing.

But what is known is this: None of this would be in serious discussion if the city wasn’t doing a lot of things right.

Trashing downtown has become something ingrained in the DNA of political intercourse in Manteca.

You know the drill. Homeless overrun the place. It’s a drug haven. It’s unsafe. The place is trashy. There is nothing there. Nobody goes downtown.

People have regularly been declaring downtown as being on its deathbed since the 1960s.

Consultants hawking magical elixirs channeling the Flimflam Man have been brought in like clockwork. A miracle in the making is declared. Then $250,000 and three years later the revival is dead. Once in a while something comes of it, but not much.

Then a couple years pass. Downtown is again declared to be dying. And the entire process starts all over again.

Meanwhile, two things have happened,

There is a lot of small scale investment in businesses and such going on that gets ignored because it isn’t part of the grand plan, aka, it doesn’t look like Pleasanton.

And there is no follow through with the unappreciated grunt work on the city’s behalf.

Guess what.

That small scale investment is getting rather large and is paying dividends.

As for the city doing the grunt work, it is happening.

Look at the past several, years. The Spin Cycle. Rice N Roll’d. The new Mexican market on the western edge of downtown across the tracks. The new tile showroom.

And then there is the $4.2 million baby — The Veranda Events Center.

All of this is in addition to ventures that continue to thrive year- in and year out.

Someone didn’t read the memo that dying doesn’t mean robust investment and healthy businesses.

As for the grunt work, compare four years ago to today.

Pavers and such that weren’t power washed for 20 years are getting a good cleansing several times a year.

The homeless using downtown as one gigantic flophouse have dwindled in numbers.

City park crews along with community service officers have become even more efficient at eliminating traces of  the homeless — that still can be found in much smaller numbers sleeping in downtown spots at 2 a.m. — are gone shortly after the sun rises each day.

The same goes for trash and such.

Laugh if you must, but the string of lights wrapped around the decorative street light poles as well as those strung across the 100 block of Maple Avenue have given downtown a different vibe at night.

The murals still endure with more public art on the way.

Then there are the things you see that look hopeless. The shuttered and fire damaged two-story Sycamore Arms on the northeast corner of Yosemite and Sycamore.

The city has been engaged in a long process using the tools in its code enforcement box to improve the building. It takes time as it is a legal process. But because they were committed to a solution and started the grunt work there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

They are also in the process of rethinking public places. The goal is to change perception, draw more people downtown, and build on reality and not fantasy.

Wilson Park — long a homeless hangout and used for little else most of the year — could be repurposed as a dog park.

The Library Park gazebo — put in place just over a decade ago as a new and better version of the gazebo the late Antone Raymus gifted to the community that was the site for countless summer concerts, other events and even weddings — is being moved to another park where it can fulfil its potentials.

Yes, it is being done so the homeless that have commandeered it from almost day one as a hang out don’t have a gathering spot in downtown that that protects them from the elements. One can devote numerous columns to the pros and cons of such a move.

But if everyone is honest, having a gazebo for concerts and such within 50 feet of railroad tracks that have more than four dozen trains rumbling past every 24 hours at 50 mph or more was never a brilliant idea.

The city is working on a use with the private sector to bring people to the park.

“Homeless proofing” — such as the city did with securing the library courtyard with wrought iron fencing to end overnight encampments — can have collateral impacts  that are positive.

During the daytime, the courtyard now has outdoor seating where patrons can take advantage of fresh air and the shade to read.

And now this week, those that have invested their time and money to make a living in downtown are closer to banding together in a united front to make the central district more inviting and secure.

One of the outcomes may be the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a website — just like many other downtowns have — that tells the world about what it offers and activities that take place there.

At the end of the day, the most problematic issue facing downtown is the wrong story being told.

It’s not Pleasanton. It’s Manteca.

And while it is not the center of all things Manteca as it was a century ago or the main retail hub as it was during  the 1960s and 1970s before the advent of Kmart and then Walmart and Target, it is still very much alive.

Just ask those from San Jose, Tracy, Stockton as well as Manteca plopping down $30 a ticket for specialized cultural concerts at The Veranda, those enjoying Sunday breakfast at Frank’s al fresco, or those meeting friends at Brethren Brewing.

Dying has never been so lively.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at