Downtown Merced hopeful for revitalization

Local News

Everywhere you turn in Downtown Merced it seems there is construction.

Some say all this work are signs of a bright future for the area. 

“A lot of old blighted properties are seeing new life,” says Mayor Mike Murphy, “they are being renovated and restored.”

The old Tioga built in 1928 is going under a renovation, it is being changed to downtown apartments. 

The El Capitan Hotel will soon be a new hotel with roughly a hundred rooms, a new more modern wing, and a restaurant.

The Mainzer Theater will go under a whole renovation to bring an up to date entertainment center to downtown. 

So who is exactly doing all this work spending millions of dollars in downtown? A San Francisco based hotel company called Joie de Vivre.

Project Manager Robin Donovan says they have one goal in mind when it comes to downtown, revitalization.

“Hopefully revitalization, right, bringing some money and some local jobs, ” says Robin Donovan. 

She says their company opened several hotels around the country and they want to keep the historical feel of the buildings while updating them as well. 

“We are trying to bring in the essence of Merced and Yosemite area into it,” she adds.

Several business owner are reacting to the changes.

The owner of the nearby Cinema Café owner says his lease inside the Mainzer Theater came to an end due to the renovations.

“They gave me a 30 day notice,” says Gerardo Olvra.

He says he now has to look for a new location, but worries about rent. 

“Rent here in downtown is way up it is expensive, hopefully I can find the right place,” he says.

On the other hand, some see these changes as progress and needed. 

“Some of the rents will probably go up I know people talk about the rents that will go up with the hotel,” says downtown business owner Robert Matsuo, “but hopefully the prices go up and hopefully people can offset that rent price with more people in the door.”

Robert Matsuo owns a restaurant in downtown. 

“I just see a lot of foot traffic, this 100 room hotel keeps more people in and lets a hundred people downtown all the time and hopefully I get 10% of it.” 

The projects are expected to be finished later this year.

Mayor Murphy says some changes have already happened with UC Merced, and he thinks residents should be excited for what is next. 

“This is a physical manifestation of things that we have all known about Merced,” says Murphy “Merced is a city on the rise our people  here are ready for a revitalized downtown.”

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