Downtown Stockton’s Commercial Building gets a face lift

Last September, SCL profiled architect Christina Frankel’s effort to spruce up the derelict Commercial Building downtown. When last visited, the building was in pretty bad shape: leaky roof, piles of debris, unsecure entryways, and graffiti. Today, the building looks a lot better as Frankel, the city and the Downtown Stockton Alliance worked together to patch up the historic hotel in hopes of eliminating blight and opening up the possibility of full rehabilitation down the road.

The work was completed towards the end of last year, and the Commercial Building has been cleaned up nicely. The hotel is still a long ways from reusable, but the work by Frankel, Derivi Construction and Architecture, the Downtown Stockton Alliance and the city’s Community Development Department has stabilized and secured the building, converting an old eyesore into something much easier on the eyes. Frankel provided SCL with some stark before and after photos. Take a look below.

Frankel hopes to continue the work by going after federal and state grants. And while much more needs to be done before the Commercial Building can truly be brought back to life, the efforts so far reflect the kind of ground-level collaboration and vision needed to truly transform downtown. So much attention is given to big-ticket, top down projects that we can sometimes forget that smaller groups will play just as big a role in revitalizing Downtown Stockton.

Noted urban studies author Richard Florida writes in his book “The Great Reset” that the revitalization of cities does not stem from big government-sponsored projects, but instead depends on the grassroots efforts of several smaller organizations and individuals. He quotes a leading economic developer who says: “Revitalizing older cities in North America and Europe increasingly depends on being able to support lots of smaller activities, groups and projects.”

What has happened with the Commercial Building is a prime example of what Florida is talking about, and I hope there are more people and groups out there who are willing to take on these kinds of challenges simply because they want to see Stockton succeed.

Commercial Building storefront before

Commercial Building storefront before

Commercial Building storefront with public art displays

Commercial Building storefront with public art displays

Before, the building's roof had several leaks

Before, the building’s roof had several leaks

Today, the roof if all patched up

Today, the roof is all patched up

Side entryway, quire foreboding for anyone walking by

Side entryway, quite foreboding for anyone walking by

Same gate, after

Same gate, after

SCL CB cornice after

SCL cornice before

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Development News, SCL Exclusives

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia created SCL in March of 2012. Garcia is a Stockton native with a background in urban policy and planning, holding a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA as well as a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. He currently serves as the Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. David was also COO at Ten Space, a real estate development firm focused exclusively on Downtown Stockton, and continues to advise on their projects. Prior to that, he worked three years as a researcher/analyst for a Congressional research agency in Washington, DC. The views expressed on this site are entirely of the author's


  1. Smart growth or Socialism? Debunking the myths of Agenda 21 | Stockton City Limits - March 12, 2013

    […] few weeks ago, Christina Frankel– the local architect spearheading the effort to restore the Commercial Building in Downtown Stockton– wrote an article in the Tracy Press discussing the website Walkscore. […]

  2. Wednesday notes: high-speed rail, the Commercial Building, and allergies | Stockton City Limits - April 3, 2013

    […] for Excellence for their work on the Commercial Building downtown, previously featured here and here. This award is given annually to both rehabilitated historic buildings and new civic projects […]

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