Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories about downtown revitalization in Watsonville.
Lately, the city of Watsonville has been trying to spruce up its downtown to attract more business.
The old Gottchalks building has remained empty since the chain store went bankrupt in the summer of 2009, and no one has yet filled it, despite the city’s attempts to lease the space.
Many businesses, such as , housed in a historic Mansion House on Main Street, struggle to retain clientele. It keeps prices the same as they were two years ago, baiting in a lunch time crowd with a $6.99 all-you-can-eat buffet, but cannot make a profit.
Yet signs of progress dot the streets, be it brightly painted strawberry and pepper murals that sit at the corner of the City Plaza. New businesses, such as Second Street Cafe and Shortcut Computing, have opened their doors—Second Street three years ago, and the computing store in the last eight months—and are already expanding. A line forms outside of Shortcut Computing around 6 p.m., its clientele drawn in by the only computer repair shop downtown.
A park , a recent project of the city’s Redevelopment Agency. Soon, this agency will be funneling funds into improving street lights, brightening the area that remains dark once the sun sets.
New chain businesses—an ARCO, Wingstop and Supercuts—also have recently set up shop in the city. And every summer weekend, festivals converge on the square nudged into the corners of Peck and Main streets, and the farmers’ market now stays open a half hour later, until 7:30 p.m.