Most valley cities have an image/status problem. Sacramento fares better than most as the state capitol, its also benefits being the center of transportation with every major north south east west highway going through the city. The view from Interstate 5 in Sacramento looks inviting with the lights of Old Sacramento to the west and the Capitol Dome and skyline to the east.
Stockton doesn’t fare as well, like Sacramento, Interstate 5 passes through the west side of the city, the view to the west is of an industrial area, and to the east, a view of a dark and lifeless downtown,making Stockton the city you drive through.
For those curious souls who exited I-5 discovered a valley city with a waterfront. (Sacramento long turned its commercial back on it’s rivers many years ago) One could tell that was once a thriving downtown and while most building are empty, the area is well kept almost as it where waiting for business to return. .
Nearly three hundred thousand people call Stockton home, its the 4th largest city in the Valley and the 13th largest in the State.
Stockton is the first community in California to have a name not of Spanish or Native American origin.
Like many cities, Stockton’s middle class moved north and east away from the central city and following them was retail. Today, most of downtown is vacant, home to high crime (Forbes magazine calls Stockton the fifth most dangerous city in the nation)and the poor.
THEY BUILT IT………
In the late 1990’s Stockton started transforming downtown and its waterfront. With the goal of getting residents to return. In a very short time, this city built Weber park on its waterfront.
A movie theater is located a block from the waterfront.
The city, refurbished the old 2000 seat Fox Theater (now called the Bob Hope Theater)
Constructed a 10,000 seat arena and a 5300 seat minor league ballpark
. In addition to these is a marina, luxury hotel and condominiums.
AND THEY DIDN’T COME
All the facilities are currently losing money, leaving the taxpayers to make up the difference.
The state of the art Arena as well as the theater,ballpark are managed by Illinois based, International Facilities Group aren’t booking acts. They blame the economy.
The Sheraton Hotel(opened in 06) went out of business and is now called the Lexington Plaza Waterfront hotel A few months ago this hotel went out of business and an auction was held, and there were no buyers. The condos on top of the hotel remain unsold a casualty of the real estate burst.
There are few boats in the new marina.
PERHAPS….. it is very possible this revitalization plan might have been too ambitious. The hope that the projects shortcomings do not impact important city services .
The downtown is barren after dark. High density housing developments mixed with subsidized retail near may have helped.
Having said that, Stockton has to admired for completing this project in less than a decade. Many cities up and down the state have had plans on the drawing board for decades. Sacramento’s K Street Mall has been an issue since the 80’s, Retail abandoned Fresno’s Fulton Mall in the 70’s, and some the land around Oakland’s City Center has been vacant since the late 60’s.
This city is quietly getting things done.
The busiest port in the valley is in Stockton
America West, ended its commercial service.at Stockton’s Metropolitan Airport in 2004. There were no other commercial fights out of the airport until 2006 when Allegiant Air began service to Las Vegas. Horizon Air and Delta airline are considering flights out of the airport.
The City of Stockton has transformed the north side of its waterfront. It’s a new source of pride for the citizens.. It is also tells business, that this unlike larger and smaller governments, that it is a city that gets things done…. There is clearly leadership in the city, the next step is selling the city, and reversing its image in the mind of its citizens and the surrounding area.
The city is considering renegotiating its contract with ILP. Perhaps, another management team is needed. Nearly 2.8 million people are withing an 70 minutes of the Arena and Ballpark, (when you include, Eastern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties) and those two buildings remain a secret outside of Stockton. A coalition of hotel owners and a new management company is needed, one who could market all of the cities facilities, including the Civic Auditorium.
With proper management and marketing of the cities facilities, Stockton’s image could change. It has nearly all the pieces in place, whats missing is a signature building. and Arena,Auditorium,and Ball Park Signage off Interstate 5
If your driving on I-5 or 99, slow down and spend a few minutes in downtown Stockton, you may be surprised.