Where is a Single Gal to go if she wants to walk and shop? I know we are a suburb—with malls and mini-malls galore—but where is our downtown shopping? Where is our Union Square? They have bums and homeless people there too, but they also have big-time shops and street performers and it all works together in one place. Why don’t we try to create something like that now in San Jose?
No one is allowed to bring up the failed Pavilion Shops as a reason not to have retail downtown. That reason is old and tired, and this was a very different city back then. Why can’t we have it all here? Fountain Alley, which is supposed to be the center of the downtown, could so easily be turned into a great street of shops and become a real destination. With a few changes, a beautiful street, made from what is now a strip of boarded-up buildings, could be just what San Jose needs. (Are the subsidies just reserved for chain restaurants?)
Then there is San Carlos Street. What is now a haven for second-hand clothes shops and tattoo parlors could be our own Melrose Ave. The area needs a higher density of shops and to be made walker-friendly, and then it will need to be publicized. You have heard it before as these aren’t new ideas, but it seems that good ideas are there and, with a little energy spent on implementation, things can be changed for the better—and rather easily.
I understand that most good neighborhoods are organically created—like Willow Glen and Los Gatos—but that is not happening in downtown San Jose. Santana Row was man-made, so why not take some great streets that already have character, feeling and an infrastructure and give them that boost they need to become better?
I feel like the same issues get brought up again and again, and the only thing City Hall is doing about bringing retail to downtown is paying for one expensive study after another. And this Single Gal doesn’t have that much time to wait.