I grew up in Los Altos and as far back as I can remember, one of the most common questions about downtown Los Altos was about what there is to do. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great restaurants including the Los Altos Grill, Opa, First and Main, Spot Pizza, and others. There are even a few shops that are fun to go to. But downtown Los Altos lacks the "wow factor" that places like Los Gatos and Santana Row offer. If you're a Los Altos resident (or hoping to be one), there's a reason for that lack of flair downtown.
Narrow buildings. There are a few property owners downtown who have help several buildings on Main Street for many years. Those buildings are only 25 feet wide, which is regarded throughout the retail industry being...nearly useless. For any major retailer wanting to have a "presence" downtown, the building width is too narrow. The typical preferred width is 50 feet. That means two buildings have to be sold, knocked down, and merged in order to make a building suitable for any of the "name brand" stores seen in downtown Los Gatos or other destination cities. There are a few buildings with the required width, but not enough. The lack of sufficiently wide buildings means businesses worthy of staying open late, run by corporations rather than small businesspeople, can't operate downtown.
If the town is EVER to become a destination, it needs businesses that can stay open till 9PM so that shoppers and diners have a reason to be downtown. As it is now, downtown Los Altos shuts down (except the restaurants) by 6PM and it's a ghost town. We're not helping our restaurant merchants but preventing the name brands and corporations from putting a presence downtown.
So, there you have it - building width is holding up downtown Los Altos growth.
The good news is that there are people who want to make Los Altos into something better and are buying nearly any property on Main Street or State Street to begin merging buildings. I hope these folks have the patience to make it happen.
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Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022