Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Santa Ana needs more gay people.
There, I said it.

Having grown up in San Diego, I've seen first hand how the (GLBT) community can refine once rough urban areas like Hillcrest and further expand its positive gentrification into surrounding neighborhoods such as Normal Heights and North Park into desirable pocket destinations.

Don't take my word for it–here's an exerpt on Gay Villages from Wikipedia (yeah I know, Wikipedia isn't de facto, but I strongly agree with what is written).

These neighborhoods are also often found in working-class parts of the city, or in the neglected fringe of a downtown area – communities which may have been upscale historically but became economically depressed and socially disorganized. In these cases, the establishment of a gay community may eventually turn these areas into desirable, upscale neighborhoods, a process known as gentrification – a phenomenon in which gays often play a pioneer role.

That first sentence in the above quote sure sounds like both the Lacy and French Park (are you listening Santa Ana/Related California) neighborhoods, wouldn't you say?

So...who's with me on giving the water tower a fresh coat of rainbow paint this weekend?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back from the Dead

"Downtown Orange County"–that definitely has a ring to it. But I often wonder if the folks who decided to paint that slogan on our beloved water tower have ever been to a real downtown.

Don't get me wrong, I love the current flavor and charm of what sits between 1st Street and Civic Center Drive, but come 7PM on a Monday night, the lights go out and the sidewalks are rolled up.

One of the main issues I feel that's stunting this area's development is that the Residential Zoning Code mandates that only Live-Work developments can be built in Downtown Santa Ana (though I've heard this might be changing soon).

A few years back, the Olson Company breathed new life into Downtown Santa Ana by building both the Main Street and the award-winning East Village Lofts. But for some reason (I've heard a few speculations why), they never got a chance to finish up the final phase of their project (to be named Sycamore Street Lofts) located on the corner of 3rd and Sycamore.

After years of being a vacant lot and one of Santa Ana's (many) under-utilized assets, City Ventures has stepped in and is picking up right where Olson left off.

I've always hoped that this 1/2-acre lot would be the catalyst for bigger and better things for Downtown Santa Ana (like making Memphis want to be open on Monday nights). I'm not sure what the original specs called for, but image ground floor (quality) retail with 3 stories of residential sitting on top–that would be the tits.

Check out the press release below that was forwarded to me by my good amigo:

City Ventures’ Latest Acquisition Will Add More Life to Santa Ana’s Artist Village

Continuing its pace of aggressive land acquisitions, City Ventures has purchased a fully-entitled, half-acre community in Santa Ana, Calif., where it will complete development on a much-anticipated collection of live/work artist lofts. City Ventures acquired the property – adjacent to the downtown artist village – from a New York-based capital management fund and is now working with the City of Santa Ana to complete the community. The purchase was an all-cash transaction.

Situated on the corner of North Sycamore Street and West 3rd Street, less than a mile from the City’s Metrolink train station, the neighborhood is planned for 16 homes, ranging from 1,227 to 2,134 square feet with one to three bedrooms. Homes – expected to be complete in 2011 – will have an estimated average price of $400,000.

City Ventures is independently financing the community’s acquisition and construction.

In addition to this parcel in Santa Ana, City Ventures currently holds more than 2,000 lots within 13 California urban, coastal counties with more than $1.0 billion in revenue potential. The company also owns or controls – land in cities including Pasadena, Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, Encinitas, Yorba Linda, and Claremont.

To meet our team and learn more about City Ventures, please visit our website at www.cityventures.com

Special thanks to my good buddy El Diablo Blanco for the heads up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The New Hotspot–Downtown Santa Ana

About a week and a half ago while dining at Memphis, I got a chance to catch up with one of Memphis' part-owner and my good buddy Dave Hastie.

Dave sat down at our table and pointed across the street to the roof of the Empire Building asking if we saw the new WiFi antenna.

"No–when did this happen?!" I asked.

"Just recently", he replied.
"We haven't made a public announcement yet."

Turns out that the free WiFi is provided by the Downtown Santa Ana Management District (a collective unit of participating Downtown Santa Ana business owners) and they're looking to expand all the way out to 4th Street and the Fiesta Marketplace.

How bitchin' is that?

I remember reading somewhere that mayoral candidate Al Amezcua wants to bring free public WiFi to Santa Ana should he be elected this November.

Way to go Downtown Santa Ana Management District for being one step ahead of the game.