Santa Cruz County

City of Watsonville looking to revamp downtown

Watsonville plans to improve downtown

WATSONVILLE, Calif. - In downtown Watsonville, you'll see some classic architecture, but you may also see plenty of "for sale" signs.

City officials are hoping to encourage more people to live in and visit downtown Watsonville by making it more pedestrian friendly.

"We're really bringing in more public space so we can have things like outdoor dining and we can encourage businesses to have a better interaction with the street -  and more importantly make it more comfortable for pedestrians," said Kurt Overmeyer, a developer with the city.

The city hopes to spend about a half-million dollars to expand the sidewalks between the areas of Riverside and Beach Street. In addition, Highway 152, which runs right through town, will also see some big changes.

"What we are envisioning is reducing the lanes from two in each direction to one in each direction," said Overmeyer.

Overmeyer used to be a developer in Pacific Grove, and he said things like wider sidewalks and more outdoor dining can be a big draw for visitors.

"The idea is that we are making a public investment and it will spur private investment," said Overmeyer.

Julian Mandujano works downtown, and he said more businesses isn't the solution. He would like to see more entertainment.

"There's nothing to do, there's nowhere to go. It's either Starbucks or Target Shopping Center," said Mandujano.  

Mandujano was born and raised in Watsonville, but when it comes to having a good time, he takes his money to Santa Cruz.

"It's like there's no entertainment," said Mandujano.

Mackenzie Fullmer gets what Mandujano is saying. She's working to bring more nightlife here by highlighting local beers at her downtown cafe.

"We realized there are over seven breweries in Santa Cruz County and none of them come to Watsonville," said Fullmer, owner of Second Street Cafe.

City leaders say revitalizing downtown could be the first step toward changing that. Next month,  the City Council is expected to review the final plans.

comments powered by Disqus