Alhambra is about to undergo major developments along Main Street, but in the meantime it’s hard to ignore the empty storefronts that dot the city. In the Downtown area, approximately 12 properties are for lease or sale. At a time of change, these images capture the sense of vacancy on parts of Main Street. Perhaps this will disappear with the new development; perhaps it will be a moment to reflect on what it could become?
City officials emphasize that the change will be for the better, with an influx of jobs, housing, and new business on Main Street. Construction projects that the city has valued at $105 million are going up this year, starting with the demolition of the circa-1975 former library. Next is a Spanish Revival inspired four-story structure with townhouses and shops. They are the first of three construction projects on the stretch of Main Street between 2nd Street and Atlantic Boulevard, making way for nearly 200 homes, stores, and offices that the city says will bring more than 600 workers to the area. “I think that Alhambra’s residents will be thoroughly pleased with what we’re bringing to the city,” City Manager Julio Fuentes said. "A lot is going on behind the scenes."
But in the meantime, the old Mervyn’s building has been empty since 2009. This is probably the most glaring vacancy, a reminder of the impact of the recession in the heart of the city. Fuentes maintains a “big box” store is interested in setting up shop at Mervyn's, but as the process is still ongoing no further details were given.
Further west on Main Street, restaurants Bistro 39, Tony Roma's and Coldstone Creamery* have both shut their doors. Fuentes said a couple of them are in talks to lease to new tenants. Another restaurant to the east, Black Angus, has been empty since 2006, sitting like a big empty barn in the middle of Bay State Street across from the post office.
More recent vacancies are the former AT&T on 500 Main Street, and Baja Fresh and Hollywood Video, all within less than a mile from each other.
Fuentes said that other vacant businesses are in the middle of negotiations with new tenants, and in the coming months announcements will be made on the status of new businesses setting up shop in Alhambra.
Coldstone Creamery has a new franchisee and will be reopening shortly, according to the City Manager's office.