Proactively Molding the Future
In 1963, chain stores began fleeing from city centers to mall locations in towns all over California. Visalia’s downtown lost J.C. Penny, J.J. Newberry, Sears, Montgomery Ward and Woolworth stores.
A dedicated group of merchants sought to keep Downtown Visalia healthy and vibrant in the wake of these losses. They formed Downtown Visalians, and threw themselves into promoting business within 72 square blocks of downtown. Because of these merchants’ early and steadfast commitment, Visalia is one of the most successful downtowns of its size in California.
Our biggest strength is in serving as a unifying voice for downtown. Empowering property and business owners through our coordinated programs helps promote a stronger identity and greater competitiveness for the business district.
Downtown Visalians Membership
All business owners holding a current City of Visalia business license to operate a business within the district’s boundaries belong to Downtown Visalians. Businesses located near our district may apply to join Downtown Visalians as an Associate Member, and receive many of the benefits provided to businesses within our district.
Governed by a 15-member board of directors, Downtown Visalians determines the level of services and improvements needed for the area. The board works with the City to forge partnerships that ensure an efficient manner of meeting the needs of our members. Together they establish coordinated programs for economic development and public area enhancements.
Property Owners Association
Downtown Visalia Property Owner’s Association (POA) was formed by property owners in 1999, making Visalia one of the first cities in the Valley to form a property and business improvement district.
The POA operates with a 15-member board elected by property owners and four appointed members within the same general area as Downtown Visalians. Board members must be a property owner or a managing partner.
The POA contracts with Downtown Visalians to provide administrative support and services, which include oversight of the 24-hour bicycle patrol, maintenance, and graffiti removal.
Through a surcharge on property and improved space, the POA funds capital improvements along with security and maintenance over and above what the city provides to downtown. The POA also funds the overhead Christmas decorations, tree lighting, and many public improvements not funded by the City of Visalia.
Downtown Visalia Foundation
The POA formed Downtown Visalia Foundation in 2009 as a 501(c)3 organization to facilitate fundraising and grant writing for the POA and Downtown Visalians. Revenues generated by the Foundation support various projects enhancing the beauty and vibrancy of downtown.
The foundation operates independently with a 15-member board of directors made up of members from Downtown Visalians and the POA, as well as community members committed to maintaining a quality downtown. Board members of the foundation are not restricted to a specific geographic area, and may be appointed by the sitting board members.