Are we lucky to have such a wonderful community and popular downtown district? No. It is not by accident but it is decades of visionary leadership, unique planning and continued investment that have made this Central Valley “Jewel”. The downtown is a barometer of the entire community. It is the second place a prospective industrial park candidate visits, right after the potential location, and it is not by accident. Corporate executives understand the concept that the downtown is a direct reflection of the community’s health. If you find a decaying core area you are bound to find those same problems throughout the city.
The Downtown Alliance, a group of business and property owners who work to enhance the community shopping and entertainment district have invested more than $1 million in public amenities, parking and business development projects. Downtown, as always, has something different to offer. It is not your status quo. The products sold are unique and so is the service. There are plans for new restaurants, a night club and new stores. There are plans for a new block long mixed-use project with retail, restaurants and offices to be built on Santa Fe.
New developments just keep coming. Acequia Avenue has been converted to two-way traffic and Kaweah Delta Medical Center opened their new 5-story tower, on time and under budget.Projects to make the area more pedestrian-friendly are the installation of newly designed bike racks and the addition of some more public areas. Upgraded paving treatments are being installed around the base of more than 1,500 trees planted by the Urban Tree Foundation with construction support from C-SET.
In a community-wide cultural arts survey conducted by the City of Visalia, participants chose downtown as one of the top three places to bring visitors. With the most of everything to offer all within a compact area, it is no wonder the central business district is a favorite. From free concerts in the Garden Street Plaza to world class entertainment at the historic Fox Theatre. Restaurants and shopping along with the best in nightclub action you can go out on the town and stay at one of our world class hotels; the Marriott Hotel Visalia at the Convention Center and the Comfort Suites Hotel. Both are conveniently located in the heart of downtown with plenty of free parking.
A brand new visitor’s center at the Convention Center on Acequia Avenue at Church Street is sure to receive funding and be under construction. It will contain modern self-serve information kiosks, personal greeters and be home to the Sequoia Shuttle Service for tours of Sequoia National Park. The transit center built just a few years ago is already receiving an expansion of the bus bays.
Visalia, like many other communities, fully supports the use of alternative transportation to reduce emissions and improve the air quality. This is especially important for the 2nd largest agricultural community in the United States. Billions of dollars of produce, dairy and nuts come from Tulare County. Naturally Downtown hosts a farmer’s market each Thursday night throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. And many of the 50 restaurants downtown use the products produced here in their favorite recipes. It makes the foods better and less expensive to produce when you buy locally.
Downtown hosts a number of world class events like the Amgen Tour, the largest professional bicycle race in America, sports tournaments ranging from youth baseball world series events and bowling championships to indoor events at the Visalia Convention Center including everything from mixed martial arts and sold out concerts to the California Home Show. The city completed a $17 million renovation of the ballpark which is home to the Rawhide Baseball Team. The renovation produced a park that ranks among the top three places for baseball in the United States. All of it is accessible from the Downtown Visalia Trolley for just 25 cents.