Monday, October 02, 2006

First Step in Developing Downtown Suisun City

First Step in Developing Downtown Suisun City
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The first major construction in Old Town Suisun City in several years finally kicked off Friday with the groundbreaking for the much-awaited Harbor Center project.

Work starts Monday on Main Street West Partners' first project - Harbor Square, which will cover 38,500 square feet of commercial and retail stores designed around a central courtyard.

Officials promoted Harbor Square as the launching point for more Old Town development that will soon include a 12,000-square-foot building across Solano Street.

Work on several of the other 12 sites along Main Street that Main Street West controls will follow, as well putting housing on the former Crystal School site.

Mike Rice of Main Street West promised there will soon be more projects in the offing, alluding to a major project in works but giving no details at this time.

Mayor Jim Spering called the ground-breaking "a very important day for Suisun City" and the culmination of a massive multimillion dollar redevelopment effort that started more than a decade ago with building City Hall and razing the crime-blighted Crescent neighborhood.

"We wanted to carve a niche that was unique," Spering said of the city's long-term plans.
The effort hit a stumbling block when the city redevelopment efforts weren't followed by private investment, "something we did not calculate on happening," Spering said.

Suisun City revived its campaign last year by hiring Main Street West to oversee the Old Town redevelopment efforts and sold it 8.4 acres of land around Main Street for $3.7 million.

The city had spent the last 15 years spending $14.2 million to purchase, clean up and improve these sites that run from large parcels near One Harbor Center to Crystal School.

Earlier this year, the city sweetened the pot by selling the vacant Crystal School site to Main Street West to build a housing development.

The city's leaders hope developing these sites with a mix of commercial, retail and some residential development will finally bring in more commercial development, they said.

The last few years have been tough for those businesses that did invest, Spering said. This project will help change that, he added.

"Hopefully, this is the light at the end of the tunnel for all of you who kept the faith," Spering said.

Rice lauded Harbor Square as the start of the next phase of Suisun City's Old Town redevelopment efforts.

"This is an example of how public-private partnerships work," Rice said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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