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What Should Go Here: 714 and 716 Main St.

Tell us what you think should go in these long-empty Main Street storefronts.

Main Street is a bustling hive of activity these days, with the vast majority of storefronts rented out.

But three properties remain vacant, and not well-cared for. 714, 716 and 718 Main St. have all sat empty for many years, and there is no sign of occupancy any time soon.

What do you think should go in these prominent storefronts? Tell us in the comments.

Jenny J Starmack February 12, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I always thought a "Blue Collar" store would do well in Downtown. Sell men and women's Work shirts, t-shirts, Dickies, Jeans, boots, wool socks, thermals, gloves, hats, belts, safety goggles. etc.
Linda Meza February 12, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Ellen Heathcote, amongst others, have been lobbying the property owner, Dr. Casale, to allow volunteers to come into the properties, clean up the store fronts and use them to display historic photos of Downtown Martinez. The belief of many is by creating a more attractive face we could get these rented out too. My hope is Ms. Heathcote's efforts are soon realized as we continue to seek the perfect tenet. It would be great to see life in these long emptied storefronts.
Melissa Fail February 12, 2013 at 03:45 PM
I think Jenny Starmack's idea is great! This town has a lot of blue collar workers and those that come from out of town to the refineries. If they could get their work gear in town that would be convienent and a money maker for the town (especially if Shell let their employees know that it was there and promoted going there).
Chris J Kapsalis February 12, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Maybe The city should fund some speciality shops that could not make it on there own downtown . They would benefit the city, prop values and quality of Main St., helping other business, and maybe self sustain after a while. It would be so cool to have some of these little shops downtown that as of now could never make it on their own. They did for the Willows, why not to restore a version of what Main St once was? We and many others have said for years we need to promote and advertise what we have more county wide, all over the Bay area, a real Main St. And what many do not have. We still have the Main St. , the buildings, maybe we should really think about helping small business come back, like jewelry, a small drug store, Soda Fountain, Ice cream, Grocery etc. I think this would be like a real Main St. Museum of sorts that people would come for. The way is used to be more. It of historical value and peoples memories, so I think people would really enjoy it and come visit, tour.. As for these tow locations, It will probably be a check cashing place or other, offices, will not be Bail Binds or more antiques I hope. What I would like to see there and what could make it are two different things. And of course what Linda said. We need someone with imagination.
Doreen February 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I like both Linda & Chris' ideas, something like a general mercantile, that included the work clothes & supplies plus additional clothing & supplies of a general nature. I grew up here when Main St was bustling. We did all our family shopping downtown. I would come downtown to shop such a store; I already come down town for lunch and/or dinner with some frequency. As to whether it would be a profitable venture, I don't know. I think it could be if we are also upgrading our wonderful marina and, if/when the new seniors complex is completed, the seniors would probably frequent such a store & may need a downtown grocery as well.
Molly Yockey February 12, 2013 at 04:54 PM
I would like to see more boutique shops or a specialty local, healthy restaurant.
Molly Yockey February 12, 2013 at 04:56 PM
I grew up in Danville and loved Hartz Ave. The locally owned businesses (thrift stores, restaurants and bakeries) I have yet to find that "feel" in any other city I have lived in. Martinez is the closest so far.
Captain Bebops February 12, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Downtown is a "hive of activity?" I haven't noticed it weekday mornings. Sunday during the Farmers Market is a little busy. And what is going on Saturday mornings that much of the parking is taken up but I sure don't see a lot of people on the streets? Shops that sell something useful would indeed be a good start.
Pat Calabro February 12, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Would Martinez consider subsidizing 'popup' stores. According to the article: "The six participating stores—which range from clothing and crafts to bicycles and art—will occupy currently vacant spaces for six months, rent free, and try to turn a profit. If they succeed, they’ll sign a long-term lease with the building, which spans four city blocks of the Old Oakland district downtown; and what began as an experiment becomes a bonafide shopping district. That’s the idea, anyway." http://oaklandnorth.net/2011/11/25/pop-up-stores-to-try-transforming-part-of-downtown-oakland-this-december/ I guess the jury is still out as to the success, but it is something to consider.
Bill Wainwright February 12, 2013 at 06:43 PM
This is the former Novelty Theater site. From what I understand, it had "legitimate stage" productions before movies. What a great thing to have it brought back thanks to a community support initiative funded by our local petroleum outfits, Shell Oil, Shell Chemical, Rhodia, and Golden Eagle Tesoro.
Ms Ellie February 12, 2013 at 07:28 PM
All of these ideas and dreams for the vacant buildings are wonderful, but it needs to be noted that the owners, the Kassel family, have been contacted MANY times by folks who would like to rent, sell or simply display historical decals or art work in the windows. None of the proposals have been acknowledged. Therefore, the only option it appears is to have a city Maintenance and Monitoring ordinance of vacant buildings where they would be forced to address their poor condition and unsightliness. Of course, they are not retrofitted either, but that is another issue.....
Phoebe McKinney February 12, 2013 at 09:00 PM
My suggestions: 1) An ice cream shop 2) A hardware store 3) A bookstore 4) A pet food store 5) A micro brewery
Stacey February 12, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Martinez needs something recession-proof that will draw all kinds of people to it. Solution? Weddings. The old Hilson's should be a full-service bridal salon. These empty storefronts could house caterers, a tuxedo shop, a specialty bakery (too bad Gateau Elegant left). The plan for an upscale restaurant at the Marina should include space for wedding banquets. We have a beautiful waterfront that could be perfect for outdoor ceremonies and wedding pictures. We have a variety of venues (parks, meeting halls, churches, etc.) that, if spruced-up and organized, could host weddings for every budget, from outdoor barbeques, to elegant, formal events. Walkable lodging (historic B&Bs?) and restaurants for out-of-town wedding guests. Lots of possibilities...
Chris J Kapsalis February 12, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I think the refinery hurts a lot of this potential. I think it does. Many driving past on 680 only see that when they see Martinez. I say no Martinez signs with the refinery looming in the background on 680, de-emphasize it on Pachaco with more trees and other ways, and we will always have the refinery, which is a huge eye sore gross rusty metal industrial nightmare of smoke belching out imo, but we need because we all depend on fossil fuel, but we have to over come that big Monster. Not sure how many see past that refinery to the charm of Main st etc. Many cannot. Just being honest. We can do something to lesson it's impact though. Just among friends, this isn't really something you want the masses to see, like on H 680 everyday, and think of Martinez behind it all? We can do some things to make it less visible I think. Marina vista and Pachoe are Not the way we want people to come into our city imo. If possible. PS. I don;t really think too many from outside Martinez read Martinez Patch in masses that this post will hurt Martinez, it is more the thousands driving past everyday on 680 that get that opinion as they drive on by plugging their nose.
Barbara Glenn February 13, 2013 at 03:49 AM
I've always wanted to open a Tack and Pet store in that location. It has the old western feel that is important. The closest tack and pet store now (besides Concord Feed) is in San Ramon and Dublin. Martinez still has plenty of horses and pets!
Phoebe McKinney February 13, 2013 at 09:03 PM
Chris, I agree with you that the refinery hurts Martinez's potential. Martinez is truly the best kept secret in the Bay Area, and more people would, I believe, be willing to relocate here if the pipes and tanks were at least cosmetically enhanced. What would it take Shell to paint the pipes a nicer color (e.g. green to match the environment), or to use them as an opportunity to promote Martinez - they have something like that in Baltimore, where similar pipes have "Baltimore" attractively emblazoned on them. Heck, Shell could also plant some tall growing trees in and around the pipes and tanks - and if they can't grow because of all the pollution that Shell spews, then we've all got another problem entirely. PS - I love the idea of a Tack and Pet store per Barbara.
Linda Meza February 14, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Per the Marina Vista off ramp view - I agree there are ways in which Shell could beautify that particular point of entry. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing many of Wylands murals on water tanks, municipal buildings, etc. I just found this on Flick'r imagine what something like that could look like on one of the tanks. Of course it should be wetland scene. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cjramthun/8284456084/
Chris J Kapsalis February 14, 2013 at 03:34 AM
I love it!
MIKE ALFORD February 14, 2013 at 05:28 AM
Well ------ I Had The Distenct impression that this thread was about the three empty store fronts on 714 main st ? Not the empty mind of sombody putting a mural on an oil tank at shell ? ---- But than agane you have to understand that a nitter that grew upin the land of Grefittie would get a little confused whit reality of what it REAL ! The only thin that could help 714 main st Now Is a buldozer ! The Kassals Were offerd 700,000 dollars CASH from Nader in 2010 ! ---- BUT Mrs Kassal Said NO! it was worth more she wanted 1,000,000 Well Now Its Worth AT best 175,000 ----- No a dozer is the only thing that makes sence ! the entire basement has rotted and falling in
Melody Lacy February 14, 2013 at 06:26 PM
A specialty grocery store. Something people would look up in the phone book or online to travel from different cities to visit. Good produce, for downtown neighbors, but also specialty foods, like a Greek grocery or an Indian grocery or even a Peruvian grocery.
Dave Thomas February 15, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Until the City transferred most of economic development into public works we had half of the city employees in that department and yet no development but we did get restrictive laws and sign ordinances and some brick crosswalks, middle of street green planting areas preventing a customer from turning left into a business and lets not forget planting trees in parking spots and eliminating on street parking to let bicycles have their own lane. The cities of Richmond, Pittsburg and Antioch along with Martinez have tried for 50 years everything possible to re-vitalize. For the most part every suggestion on this site has already failed once. The sad truth is most of downtown is not profitable for small business owners. What might work would be to GROW a new downtown starting AT the Marina with live/work/play & shop. I forgot... the state offered us OWNERSHIP of the Marina if we would share some of the profits so we do not own it. 36,000 RESIDENTS. If 2,000 utilize or need the downtown and 34,000 do not care spending taxpayer dollars is wrong.

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