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Belmont Business Summit Highlights Need for Downtown Development

Mayor Coralin Feierbach held the "Rekindle-Refocus" on Business in Belmont last week to discuss the city's plans for business development.

Dozens of Belmont business owners, city staff members and elected officials gathered at the on Wednesday night to hear Mayor Coralin Feierbach discuss plans to revitalize Belmont's downtown area.

"There are 1,205 active business in Belmont," Feierbach said, adding that they are mostly located on El Camino Real and at Carlmont Shopping Center.

And the city is in the process of buying vacant properties in Belmont's downtown area, which consists of Ralston Avenue, El Camino Real, and Fifth and Sixth avenues, in the hopes of making the area more enticing for potential business owners in Belmont.

"The city is trying to create synergy downtown," Community Development Director Carlos de Melo said. "There could be a bakery, a bookstore, housing -- all great things to play off the assets of downtown."

City officials envision the area would be a "gathering spot" for pedestrians, he said.

The city is focusing on a number of areas around Belmont in which to entice businesses, including the old Firehouse Square at O'Neill and Fifth avenues; Emmett's Plaza where Safeway is located; the ; and the stretch along Shoreway Road.

While the poor economy has stalled many of these projects, de Melo said the city hopes to get some of the plans off the ground in a few years.

Feierbach addressed Belmont's need for a revitalized downtown area when she was in November, and said developing Belmont business areas would be a main focus this year.

Some business owners asked Feierbach about plans for development at Carlmont Shopping Center, which she said is on the city's radar and will be addressed in the future.

During her presentation Wednesday night, Feierbach highlighted new and expanding businesses in Belmont, including , , , and .

She also mentioned other projects and coming attractions to Belmont in the near future. Landscaping along Ralston Avenue and U.S. Highway 101 will transpire once the is complete; Semeria Park is slated to open next month; and residents can expect improvements to O'Neill and Sixth avenues.

Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM
The reality is that El Camino Real--a multi-lane, heavily congested state highway--simply is not a pleasant place to spend any significant amount of time. (Shoreway is even worse because it abuts 101) To try to turn the El Camino corridor into anything more than what it is--a traffic artery--is folly, in my opinion. Every other Peninsula city has its downtown west or east of El Camino by one or two blocks. I think Belmont should "manufacture" a downtown. At the intersection of El Camino and Middle Road create a spur off El Camino, heading south-southwest, that would align with 6th Avenue. Use this new street as the foundation for a downtown. Existing businesses and apartments may have to be razed. Certain businesses (e.g., Belmont Hardware) should be permitted to buy back in at heavily subsidized rates in consideration of their long-time presence in the community. There is likely no money for this kind of a project. It is likely a non-starter in many other ways as well. But at least it is a vision for something better than what we have now: a dying Blockbuster video, and a motley assortment of bars and tattoo parlors.
Tommy Tee February 22, 2011 at 10:56 PM
The city has already done this in the 80's and about 10 years ago with their Visioning Project. The vision isn't the problem--we just never follow through and do it! Then, after everyone's forgotten it we have another visioning project. So--30 years later we still have nothing to show but visioning.
Bill Bohlen February 23, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Belmont has a downtown? Since when? I love how our mayor points to four tiny restaraunts as progress. Especially when some replaced other restaraunts. Get a clue. Belmont is as unfriendly towards business as one can get. But what can you expect with our council. Please commission another study to tell us how little economic development we have.
belmont mom April 20, 2011 at 06:47 AM
Where will people park? Perhaps they are trying to get all the family residents in this area to move out anyhow, as they are trying to redistrict their school to a much lower value overall. If they just take the whole area and make it commercial instead of residential, will that be a boost to Belmont's economy?
Steve Hayes April 20, 2011 at 06:13 PM
No worries about parking - the development process in Belmont is like a snail going in reverse. I just wish the city would clean up the old City Hall/Temp Fire Station site and the old Lighting Store site. At least, remove all of the old stuctures and remaining concrete and clear the weeds.
belmont mom April 20, 2011 at 11:50 PM
You are right, that broken concrete has been sitting there way too long!

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