Work on plaza starts Monday
by Jon Mendelson / Tracy Press
Jul 28, 2011 | 2733 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Starting next week, work will begin to transform a block of Sixth Street into a plaza city leaders hope will serve as a focal point for downtown Tracy.

Starting Monday, Aug. 1, westbound Sixth Street between Central Avenue and D Street will be closed, as will the parking lot fronting businesses on that block. The closure, which is planned to last until Jan. 30, 2012, will make way for construction crews to start work on a plaza that city leaders and local business owners hope will aid the revitalization of the city’s oldest business district.

“In the end, it’s going to be beautiful,” said Elaine Pombo, who owns Elaines’ Boutique at 61 E. Sixth St., along with Elaine Bogetti.

While both Bogetti and Pombo look forward to the finished product, they and other merchants along the part of Sixth Street that will be improved worry that the construction — and loss of the parking lot — will reduce business during the 6-month project window.

“We need to have patience,” Pombo said.

But business owners agree the city of Tracy has tried its best to reach out to merchants to make the construction period as painless as possible. Construction is designed so that businesses such as Magellan’s, Vita Dolce and Elaines’ will remain open to customers.

Events like the Tracy Dry Bean Festival, fall wine stroll and Halloween and Christmas parades will be effected by the parking lot’s closure, but organizers of those events said this week that they will be able to work around the inconvenience.

Jan Couturier, the director of the Tracy City Center Association, said the city has done as much as possible to inform and help out Sixth Street merchants, including putting up signs reminding passers-by that businesses are open during the work.

That includes keeping Central Avenue and eastbound Sixth Street open during construction. Work has been organized in four phases so traffic can flow both north and south on Central Avenue without interruption — save for a temporary four-way stop at Central and Seventh Street, and intermittent delays associated with moving machinery. Traffic that would normally travel west on Sixth Street will be diverted to Seventh Street.

Andrew Malik, the head of the city’s engineering department, said the construction could be finished faster if the roads were completely closed, but that would cause too much harm to local commerce.

City engineer Kul Sharma said the city hopes all work will be finished when February rolls around, but fall or early-winter rain could push back the done date.

“We’re hoping the weather works with us,” he said.

When work is completed, a roundabout will anchor the Central Avenue-Sixth Street intersection. The plaza, which will be bordered by westbound traffic on the north and eastbound traffic on the south, will include grassy fields, shade trees, an interactive fountain and an area where bands and other groups can entertain.

The city and other organizations hope to make the plaza a focal point for events like Taste of Tracy, city-sponsored block parties and the summer music series.

Not included in the work mandate are a pavilion for the plaza — Malik said the money isn’t there to pay for that feature — and a bronze statue planned for the roundabout — the funding for which is not included in the plaza budget.

Malik said the $3.5 million for the plaza comes from the city’s redevelopment agency, which was able to sign contracts for the work before Gov. Jerry Brown abolished those agencies in an effort to divert more money to state coffers.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 01, 2011
If you build it, they will come.

Sure hope so! We need to revitalize our downtown.

But that roundabout is a white elephant, and a statue will be obscene wastefulness.
July 28, 2011
First I will say that the mall doesn't have the grand theater. Two totally different concepts.

Second I do not think the type of stores downtown are the same type of stores that compete with Macys. The downtown is mostly restaurants as we have discovered during the Taste of Tracy.

Third I know that there used to be a Pennys downtown, but those stores floculate to mall shopping areas. As did Pennys. They no longer move to a downtown area unless the downtown has an outdoor mall like Walnut Creek, but that won't happen because there isn't enough room to develop in the downtown.

I'm sorry, but this concept that people keep talking about turning the downtown into the mall is just not down to earth.

I think the transformation with the roundabout and the upgrades will help foot traffic in that area and that it would be good for the downtown businesses. There are some nice restaurants on the corner of Sixth Street and Central. If you want more businesses downtown then this is probably a step in the right direction.

July 28, 2011
How can you possibly revitalize downtown when the existing business have to compete with Wal-Mart, Macy's, Sears, Penney's and such? Sure I'd like to see downtown look better, but I think it'll take more 3.5 million to do it. How much did Tracy pay to have Macy's move in?

Most of the merchants I know in town have all expressed their concern regarding loss of business over the past few years because of the Mall. Just look at the empty stores around town. It's a disaster. But, the mall is struggling too.

Good Luck.

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at