Pioneers of Downtown Stockton
By Andrew Rocha
Downtown Stockton has been experiencing a period of resurgence. Businesses are opening and happily accepted by the community! In addition, many people are showing interest in living in downtown. It is an exciting time to be downtown!
But a lot of what is happening downtown would not be possible if not for the time and effort from several figures in the community. Not only have they shown enough interest in the district to use their resources in fostering the downtown area, but their passion for the area is sparking interest and attracting more people to visit downtown Stockton. Growth and new life in downtown would not be possible without their efforts!
Bali Ranchhod and the S&M Ranchhod Family Trust own several properties in downtown Stockton including, 820/840 East Main Street, 526/530 East Main Street, and 47 North Grant Street. To help support growth and life in the area, Ranchhod explained that,
“We encourage new businesses into our properties in downtown by offering low rents and assisting with establishment as possible…We have recently become involved with the Downtown Stockton Business Watch and their efforts to improve security. Just having tenants in formerly vacant properties and generating some traffic flow is helping keep downtown active and help with its new growth.”
Bali Ranchhod’s father, Shamjibhai Ranchhod, came to Stockton in the early 70’s for a better life than what was available in their home of Zambia. Though it was a struggle, Shamjibhai Ranchhod worked hard for his family and the downtown community. Bali Ranchhod shared,
“He would take over any distressed property and try to make it work. He would get sellers to carry a note with a small amount down and worked hard to keep up with payments, manage tenants and do the necessary maintenance (mostly himself and getting help from the cheapest contractors available). He was a good negotiator and a lot of folk did jobs for him simply because of his persistence and character.”
Cort Companies is a full-service commercial real estate and development company. They renovate and restore buildings that are integral to the history of downtown Stockton. Cort Companies has been serving the community for 40 years. In that time, around two million square feet of space have been restored. Dan Cort, the president and CEO of Cort Companies expressed that he believes more people will be drawn to the district because of Cort Companies’ hard work and the businesses that have chosen to work with them. It is a community effort that is helping downtown Stockton grow.
Mahala Burns, the senior broker of Cort Companies, mentioned some of the projects that Cort Companies is working on. One of their main goals is to bring new residents to the downtown area. These projects to draw new residents include Tretheway Live+Work Lofts at the historic Tretheway building, a space for those who want an area where they can comfortably live AND practice their business. According to Mahala Burns, more and more people are showing interest in downtown Stockton and overtime life will be thriving like it never has before.
A 94-year old Stockton native, Melvin Corren, leads a class titled “Revitalization of Downtown Stockton” in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of the Pacific. In this class, Melvin Corren and various people from the city government and local organizations suggest ways in which downtown Stockton can return to its former glory.
“My drive for doing all of this has been number one, because I remember when downtown Stockton was such a vibrant place and I would like to see it return to that state.” said Corren.
In 1901, Melvin Corren’s grandfather opened a furniture store on San Joaquin Street in Downtown Stockton. He remembers those old and wonderful times downtown. He also shared some ideas that would benefit the area while paying respect to the area’s rich history. One idea is to compliment the iconic Bob Hope Theater with a Bob Hope Plaza or museum to celebrate the life and work of Bob Hope, perhaps including a film of Alex Spanos dancing with Bob Hope. Such a project would not only give people an incentive to visit and live in downtown Stockton, but also a reason to care and cherish the area.
Downtown Stockton is an area that is on the rise. Members of the community can help support the new life and growth in the area by simply supporting the businesses that are located there and spend time enjoying the atmosphere of downtown’s city life.
Written by Andrew James Rocha