Now that Wal-Mart has decided to build a store in Atascadero, it is time to circle the wagons. I’ve often opined that when Wal-Mart comes to town, it will suck the remaining life out of the downtown.
But wait a minute. Where is downtown?
Other than the Business Improvement District wherein specific boundaries were spelled out, there is no such place (“downtown”). I’ve asked a dozen people what boundaries define downtown. Almost everyone agrees downtown exists along El Camino Real on the north end at Rosario, the site of the former Safeway market that is now the Police Department. Many place the southern boundary of downtown at Morro Road. Nobody included that stretch of Morro Road going west toward Atascadero Lake.
I agree Rosario (police headquarters) is the northern edge. I would include at least a portion of El Camino to include A-Town Diner going south.
Driving around all the retail areas, I think we have enough businesses to make up a good little downtown that could work. These are businesses that seem to always be filled with people when I go in them.
Mind you, I haven’t asked any of these businesses if they’d go along with it.
Let’s begin by moving Guest House Grill into the Carlton Hotel building. I would relocate Buckets of Books into one of those nice little stores on Entrada or Traffic Way, or better yet, the old bakery building that once served as an adult book store. The guys at the Hobby Headquarters store need to move from the old Spencer’s complex to where the Kelly-Moore Paints moved out (which happens to also be a former location of Safeway).
A-Town Diner is OK where it is. It has good exposure and plenty of parking.
Let’s move all the thrift shops together, say on both sides of Entrada where they would work together to draw shoppers.
The downtown corner at Entrada and El Camino Real is firmly anchored by Bella Cose dress shop; no need for changes there. Of course we have to get K-Jon’s to move about a block south to bring that viable shop into the downtown core. I want to get Central Coast Trains to relocate to a shop in the downtown I envision.
And I’d move Malibu Brew into the empty bakery space in the Carlton building and return the present coffee shop back to a real gas station with vintage pumps. Let’s move the little beer pub next to Atascadero Creek about 100 feet north into that metal building that was built to be a micro-beer making facility with accompanying restaurant in the first place.
There’s safety in numbers. There needs to be a reason to “go downtown.” We need to get those downtown numbers up as soon as we can.