SCCIA 2019 In Review


The future is looking bright for Downtown Salinas as the Salinas City Center Improvement Association (SCCIA) continues to lead the effort to promote and advance the Downtown Vibrancy Plan. As we approach the fifth anniversary of our establishment by the Salinas City Council, we see progress and momentum. Here’s a list of achievements and advancements in 2019 that you may not know about.

1. Intermodal Transportation Center Under Construction

After more than 20 years of planning, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) received several competitively-priced bids for Phase 1 of the transformation of the area near the Salinas train station into an Intermodal Transportation Center. The vision is to see this area as a future hub of activity for people who choose to use public transit, bicycle, or walk to jobs and services. Phase 1 is now well into construction, with Phases 2 and 3 in the planning stages. The ultimate goal is to have Caltrain provide commuter rail service between Salinas and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Monterey County Rail Extension Phase 1: Kick Start Project

2. Developer Proposes $489 Million Master Plan for Lincoln Avenue Corridor

Downtown Salinas is now a federal Opportunity Zone that offers special financial incentives to redevelop urban areas. This, along with the attraction of the future Intermodal Transportation Center, convinced three development partnerships to response to a City of Salinas qualification request and one partnership to subsequently submit a proposal for redevelopment of the Lincoln Avenue Corridor.

Response to Lincoln Avenue RFP from Borelli Investment Group

3. City of Salinas Receives Bids for Main Street Streetscape Project

It’s an exciting risk. As envisioned in the Downtown Vibrancy Plan, construction will occur in 2020 to overhaul the tired and outdated design elements of the 200 and 300 blocks of Main Street while highlighting the historic buildings and commercial opportunities. The city will even install fiber optic cable to make Downtown Salinas an attractive location for businesses needing fast electronic communications. The city received several competitively-priced bids for the project.

Plans for Main Street Streetscape Project Go to Salinas City Council – KION News – October 18, 2019

4. City Incentives Inspire Conversion of Former Rabobank Building to Residential Mixed Use Development

It’s happening at last: people are going to live in Downtown Salinas. Built in 1930, the Salinas National Bank Building (most recently known as the Rabobank Building) is being converted into residential units with ground-floor restaurant or retail use. Even the roof is going to become a great place for people to meet. New city policies (such as the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance and Mills Act Historic Building Tax Incentives) to encourage preservation of historic buildings and revitalize Downtown Salinas are making a difference.

Salinas Old Bank Building Looks Towards Redevelopment – KSBW News – December 3, 2019

5. City of Salinas Approves Plans to Convert Salinas Californian Newspaper Building into Residential Units

With little fanfare, new owners of the historic former Salinas Californian Building – built in 1948 – applied for and received approval from the City of Salinas for conversion of the 36,900 square-foot building into a 47,700 square foot, mixed use building with 1,881 square feet of commercial space and 40 dwelling units as an adaptive reuse project. It’s across the street from the beautiful East West Wing restored by Monterey County and reopened in 2018.

Approved Plans for Salinas Californian Building

6. West Alisal Street Is Getting an Overhaul

It took two tries, but the City of Salinas received and awarded a competitively-priced contract for the Downtown Complete Streets Project for West Alisal Street and Lincoln Avenue. This undistinguished major thoroughfare that passes Hartnell College into Downtown Salinas is going to become attractive and friendly for pedestrian and bicycle use. This will help attract quality development projects.

Downtown Complete Streets Project Is Headed for Construction

7. City Council Enacts Blight Accountability Ordinance for New Powers to Tackle Neglected, Deteriorating Buildings

Property rights are important, but owners who neglect or abandon their properties and allow them to deteriorate compromise the rights of neighboring property owners. The city is using its authority under its new Blight Accountability Ordinance to make the owners of the burned-out Bruhn Building (4 years ago) responsible for the property. It is asking the California court system to put the Bruhn Building into receivership. It is also taking action regarding numerous violations at the Greyhound Building, which has the same owners.

City Starts Legal Battle with Owner of Dick Bruhn Building

  • KSBW News – December 9, 2019

Why Is the Bruhn’s Building Headed to Court? – KION News – December 9, 2019

City of Salinas Moves to Take Long-Blighted Dick Bruhn Building into Receivership – Monterey County Weekly – December 7, 2019

In addition, the city is using the new ordinance to deal with the large long-term blighted house on the corner of Lorimer Street and West Alisal Street, an unsightly spectacle only a few blocks away from Downtown at a prime location on a major thoroughfare through Downtown.

Residents Complain of Abandoned House in South Salinas – KION News – June 19, 2019

Salinas Neighbors Push City to Hold Abandoned Property Owners Accountable – KION News – July 16, 2019

8. Plans Unfold for Old Monterey County Jail

While many Monterey County residents and historical and architectural buffs appreciate the facade and historical significance of the Old Monterey County Jail, two efforts in 2019 to solicit proposals for adaptive reuse of the solidly-constructed but mold-infested facility brought no responses. The county is now seeking state funding to preserve the front section of the building as a possible museum with related retail.

Old County Jail Re-Use Gets Another Chance – Monterey County Herald – March 19, 2019

Historic Old County Courthouse, Old Jail Recognition, Preservation Efforts Continue – Monterey County Herald – May 10, 2019

County Seeks Rehab and Reuse Plans for the Old Jail that Once Housed Cesar Chavez – Monterey County Weekly – June 17, 2019

Old County Jail Gets Another Reprieve – Monterey County Herald – September 11, 2019

Monterey County Mulls Fate of Historic Salinas Building Where Cesar Chavez Was Jailed – The Salinas Californian – September 12, 2019

9. Commitment Continues Between County and City to Plan for Parking Garage at Downtown Government Center

The City of Salinas and the County of Monterey recognize a need for compact high-density parking for the employees of Monterey County and the City of Salinas and the future residents and visitors of Downtown Salinas. The latest review of the City/County Downtown Salinas Government Center Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) continues the long-term commitment, as stated in the Downtown Vibrancy Plan, to collaborate to build a parking structure at the Government Center. A potential location for this facility is on the newly-vacant land where modular buildings were once placed for the District Attorney’s office.

2019 Annual Review on the Implementation of the Downtown Government Center Memorandum of Understanding

10. Long-Vacant El Rey Theater Has New Local Owners

Slowly but surely, the new owners of the long-neglected El Rey Theater, built in 1935, are cleaning out the interior mess with an ambitious plan to bring this old historic theater back to its former glory. It is pleasing to see new owners who are local residents and invested in this community.

11. California Welcome Center Will Move to Downtown Salinas

Right now the California Welcome Center of the Salinas Valley Tourism and Visitor’s Bureau is located in a shopping center on Davis Road. The Bureau has signed a lease to relocate to the recently renovated Freight Building, which is next to the Salinas Train Depot at the future Salinas Intermodal Transportation Center. Downtown Salinas is the city’s top tourist and visitor destination, so this new location is appropriate and welcome.

Freight Building Improvements at 1A Station Place, for the California Welcome Center

12. City of Salinas and Business Community Will Work for Permit Center Improvements

Recognizing that obtaining permits quickly and easily continues to be a top challenge for Downtown Salinas property owners, the Salinas City Center Improvement Association and the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce will be involved in 2020 with a resurrected Business Advisory Committee for the City of Salinas. This effort will build on the city’s existing action plan to improve the permitting process.

13. Construction Will Begin in 2020 for Permanently-Located Emergency Shelter at 855 East Laurel Drive

Currently, the primary emergency shelter for people needing a place to live is located in temporary modular buildings on West Alisal Street in Downtown Salinas. A contract has been awarded to build a permanent shelter facility at a location near Natividad, the county hospital. The move will free space in a prime Downtown location for future development that advances the Downtown Vibrancy Plan.

855 East Laurel Drive Emergency Shelter Contract Award