Tying Truckee Together | SierraSun.com

Tying Truckee Together

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunThe Truckee Downtown Merchants Association is exploring new ways to improve downtown through cooperative management, promotion and business enhancement.

Outside competition, the changing economy and new development on the horizon have all put downtown Truckee under the microscope.

From one side, the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association is exploring new ways to improve downtown through cooperative management, promotion and business enhancement.

From the other, the Town of Truckee is studying downtown economics, and how it will be impacted by the upcoming Railyard development.

“Overall you have a very good mix, you’re economically vibrant, your historic building stock is great,” said Lani Lott of L.L. Consulting at the Downtown Summit on Thursday. “This is truly the time to come together and discuss how to continue that success.”

Lott presented the Main Street Approach, which models the way a downtown area is managed after a mall ” creating a managing organization, working together to promote the commercial core, enhancing aesthetics, and stimulating a healthy mix of business.

Towns across the state have used the program to varying levels of success, Lott said, with Grass Valley as one of the notable success stories in the area.

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“Grass Valley went from 65 percent vacancy downtown in the ’80s to a vibrant community core today,” she said.

And Tahoe City has also launched a similar effort, already showing some success, said Dave Wilderotter, owner of Tahoe Dave’s Ski Shop in Tahoe City and Truckee.

“I’m a big Main Street guy, we started a Main Street program up three or four years ago in Tahoe City and it’s proved to be a great model,” Wilderotter said. “When the community gets involved it stops being an engineer’s vision and becomes the community’s vision.”

The Town of Truckee is also looking at downtown in the specific context of the planned Railyard development, which could introduce 364,000 square feet of new commercial and industrial businesses to the eastern end of Commercial Row.

Hired by the town to study possible impacts of the new development on downtown, and to suggest uses that would enhance downtown, Dena Belzer, president of Strategic Economics, spoke at town hall Tuesday.

“The town feels legitimately that the Railyard meshing with downtown is so important,” Belzer said.

While some locals complain that downtown doesn’t cater to locals, she suggested the Railyard could provide some of those complementary uses, along with things that would draw people downtown like a theater and a hotel.

The Railyard could create a “critical mass” of businesses that will bring ” and retain ” more shoppers, Belzer said.

Both Belzer and Lott brought up paid parking and the retention of the post office as issues to consider in looking at downtown Truckee’s future.

“We fought for the post office to stay in our downtown [Grass Valley] and it’s not any easy one. They’re a huge generator of foot traffic,” Lott said.