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.