For several years, our view of the Colony Square project has been partially blocked by wooden pedestrian structures and screened fencing. During the past two or three months, we’ve been treated to some vibrant colors on those exterior walls, creating what looks like a small village.
Then, last Thursday, the pedestrian walkway was removed as an early Christmas present for Atascadero.
Unveiled were light brown sidewalks, rustic pavers, ornamental iron grates for trees and green light poles. Colorful tiles enhance the lower walls of the storefronts — much like what was done on some of the city’s original downtown buildings.
All of this corresponds to the downtown streetscape put in place almost 10 years ago by the city and revealed in reality with the completed Carlton Hotel project.
A sense of order is becoming visible for Atascadero for almost the first time since those early commercial buildings were constructed along El Camino Real by a new cadre of businessmen who built outside founder E.G. Lewis’ original civic center.
Colony Square to the south of Atascadero and the rest of downtown to the north are highlighted by the beautifully renovated Sunken Gardens, Atascadero Creek and the new bridge at Lewis Avenue. Now there are plans to beautify the original bridge across the creek on El Camino Real with vintage lighting and more.
On Saturday morning, I went over to Colony Square and walked on the newly revealed sidewalk.
I peeked in the windows, as did several passers-by. We commented on the colorful awnings and the decorative lighting fixtures on both sides of the entrances to the future retail spaces.
In the background is the facade for the two-story entrance to Galaxy Theatres, looking like something out of the art deco period. The detail is amazing, and it is beginning to show up more and more each day. From the back side, you get a hint of the beautiful tiles being placed against the theater building.
Each day gets more and more exciting for Atascadero as we learn of new retail businesses opening their doors along with some new restaurants.
Actually, we aren’t gaining three new restaurants, but three restaurants are being remodeled and will open under new names. There will be some brand-new eateries in the Colony Square.
Add to all this the Highway 101/Highway 41 interchange with its decorative street lighting, red brick veneer and even the city logo tucked into the upper concrete railing.
Rite Aid has certainly done its part to beautify this major intersection with its new store.
An announcement came this week that the old Rite Aid building will be redone to match what is going on in the area. It will also sport a Starbucks that will feature an outdoor patio and drive-through. This isn’t a new Starbucks for Atascadero; the coffeehouse is just moving about 200 feet.
It is indeed a jolly time for Atascadero.