Colony District Renaissance
It started fairly quietly, four years ago – a small group of business owners & managers on Traffic Way started meeting weekly to see what we could do about improving business in our downtown district. We knew we had a diamond in the rough, and that there was no reason that Atascadero couldn’t capitalize on the tourism that has brought such success to the Paso Robles downtown. The former Main Street Association had dissolved, and a dedicated volunteer group of “Traffic Way Collaborators” was initiated.
The idea was to plan events to bring residents downtown and get all the businesses involved, and our first event, “Taco Day on Traffic Way,” was a huge sellout. We were encouraged and continued to reach out to other businesses to get more people involved.
Subsequent events were executed; “Tater Day on Traffic Way” for a St. Patrick’s Day event, a summer event called “Paint Your Way Down Traffic Way,” in which artists worked with attendees to create six door-sized paintings, which were then used to create street banners, funded by the event revenues. In the meantime, the City hired Terrie Banish as Assistant City Manager in charge of Promotions, and Terrie was a big supporter of our group and started working with us in regards to city events downtown. We’ve also received generous support from the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.
Our core group’s energy and dedication has had a lot to do with the new businesses that have opened downtown in the past couple years – there is a palpable “buzz” that things are happening in A-Town, and our little group has morphed into the “Atascadero Colony District Committee” (ACDC) and now includes members beyond Traffic Way, including the Zappas family which is developing La Plaza on El Camino Real.
The Mission Statement of the ACDC is, “The Atascadero Colony District Committee is an alliance of local small businesses in the Colony District with the purpose of promoting growth and viability in Downtown Atascadero.” The ACDC recently petitioned the City Council to initiate a Parking Business Improvement Assessment, which will help fund beautification and efforts to bring more residents downtown.
Deana Alexander, general manager of the Carlton Hotel, was recently quoted in the local news on the subject.
“We are really, really dedicated to the downtown district and we want to move forward, we want to do more, we want to include the whole downtown. I want to make sure that all of the businesses know that what we’re doing is going to benefit them in one way or another, whether it’s the beautification, or bringing more people into the downtown. We’re truly committed to keeping the momentum going with the downtown.”
All you have to do is take a walk through downtown to check out the cool new businesses and you’ll see, our Colony District/Arts District is really undergoing a Renaissance.
See you downtown!