Downtown Gilroy / Incentives
The Heart of Gilroy
Downtown Gilroy is the heart of our City. Its walkable character, historic charm, and eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, services, and entertainment make it a great location for many businesses. Downtown has ample parking, great transit access, and many residents in close proximity. In the coming years, Downtown's existing train station will be expanded to accommodate a station for the future high speed rail.
Downtown regularly hosts a wide variety of fun, family-friendly events. Whether it's the Friday night music series, art & wine stroll, Halloween beer crawl, or car show, there's always something going on in downtown Gilroy! For a taste of what's happening, check out the Welcome Center's event calendar, take a look at the Downtown Business Associations featured downtown events.
Downtown is home to a wide range of restaurants, entertainment establishments, and specialty retail shops. From antiques to furniture and from clothes to toys, downtown's local businesses offer an eclectic mix of products. Similarly, services abound in downtown, where you'll find fitness studios, hair salons, medical facilities, and much, much more. In conjunction with a number of partner organizations, a comprehensive list of downtown businesses is currently being developed. Check back soon for this information.
City staff work closely with downtown merchants and prospective business owners to help entrepreneurs open or expand their businesses. Peruse the information below to learn more.
Available Properties. Browse downtown properties that are for sale or lease through the Economic Development Corporation’s available properties listing.
Permitting Information. Looking to open or expand your downtown business? The city is here to help. Contact the city's Development Center Manager, Lee Butler, or call 408-846-0451 to understand what you'll need. We are always happy to answer your general questions, and here are some of the services that the city offers free of charge:
- Development Review Group (DRG). The city's development services team (planning, building, public works, fire prevention, hazardous materials, and police) can review your conceptual proposal early in the process to let you know what is needed to get your business up and running.
- Expedited Permitting. Many downtown proposals are eligible for streamlined permitting, for example, through our plan check by appointment services where building permits are often issued at the initial meeting.
Downtown Improvement Incentive Program Results
Our downtown businesses are an important part of our community and provide services and experiences that make our community unique. From July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020
the City of Gilroy Offered two limited-time incentives to help downtown businesses by assisting with efforts to revive and refresh their buildings. The two Downtown Improvement Incentive Program pilots are: (1) the Downtown Commercial Corridor Development Incentive Pilot, which temporarily reduced building and planning fees by 75%; and (2) the Downtown Façade Improvement Pilot, which offered $5,000 matching grants for façade improvements. A summary of results are presented below followed by before and after photos of the new Façades:
(1) The Downtown Commercial Corridor Development Incentive Pilot
- 34 planning and/or building permit applications qualified
- $64,738 in combined savings for all applicants
- $3,753,594 estimated new assessed valuation in building improvements
- Feedback revealed the pilot was viewed favorably by local business owners and that there is interest to renew
- 12 total applicants with an average project budget of $14,035 and average planned reimbursement of $4,166
- $50,000 in total funds reserved for projects, representing 100% utilization
- $168,424 combined planned investment in downtown building improvements, including the City’s portion. This is a 337% increase over the City’s portion of $50,000
- Feedback revealed the pilot was viewed favorably by local business owners and that there is interest to renew
- Participating businesses are host to a combined 44 local jobs
1. Vines and Pints
Vines and Pints is a new addition to the downtown, revitalizing the building on 7511 Monterrey. Although, not open yet, plans for the wine bar include Italian décor with a rotating and simplified menu serving up appetizers such as baked olives, stuffed mushrooms, and fried artichoke hearts. For the main course, chicken piccata, beef bourguignon and lemon parmigiano pasta will be on the menu with blueberry cheesecake and lemon bars deserts.
When the owner first acquired the property, the façade was not only unsightly, but also unsafe. They quickly went to work to make repairs and worked with the City to acquire permits. Vines and Pints was one of the first participants in the Community Development Department’s Early Start Program. The program was implemented to shorten the timeline of construction improvements and remodels through our Building Division with a new permit process. This new process speeds up construction improvements by allowing for some construction to start and continue during the plan review process. This is done through the issue of interior non-structural demolition permits or non-structural tenant improvement permits prior to completion of the plan review process and thereby shortening the entire timelines of the construction project.
[Vines and Pints Before Photo 1]
[Vines and Pints Before Photo 2]
[Vines and Pints After Photo]
2. El Charrito – Status: Work Pending.
El Charrito Market, the second application, plans to replace old awnings to brighten up the business, which has operated in Gilroy for 75 years. El Charrito Market is a locally owned family business in the heart of Old Town Gilroy, with vegetables, a grocery store, fresh cut meat, masa for tortillas and tamales, and warm tortillas for parties, and specialize in a vast variety of Mexican cuisine. El Charrito Market planned for work in the beginning of 2020 but worked stopped during the shelter in place. They received an extension on time to perform and plan to complete work by the end of 2020. As of the writing of this report permits had already been pulled.
[El Charrito Before Photo]
3. Neon Exchange
The first approved application was for The Neon Exchange, a recent addition to the downtown core; the improvements included repairing and replacing all front façade broken glass, new signs, pressure washing, and painting. The improvements were completed in quarter two and a reimbursement was issued. The Neon exchange is a membership based co-working space and events center on the first floor while the second floor is dedicated to 20 newly renovated private offices, all of which allows entrepreneurs and other business people to utilize office space without the traditional scale needed to rent a full building. The business and operator, Toni Bowles, was featured in the Gilroy dispatch where it was stated “she worked hard to both preserve and update the former hotel in our historic downtown." Her intent was to marry the old with the new in an effort to bridge generations together and pay tribute to the rich history here in Gilroy. The Neon Exchange had their grand opening October 27, 2019 on the first floor and their certificate of occupancy on the second floor issued June 29, 2020.
My experience with the Downtown Facade Improvement Program was streamlined and efficient. The City primary point of contact was communicative and very helpful every step of the way. I was facing a multitude of construction improvements on the interior over the course of the two-year project so the ability to tap into funds specific to help improve the facade helped tremendously. While the most dire work was on the interior, it was so important to pay attention to the exterior as it is often the first impression patrons will make about whether to step foot inside a business. It was important to me to take the dreariness out of the building to making it more approachable and inviting for people to come inside and take a further look. Thank you so very much to the City of Gilroy for providing small business owners like me a little help in creating an overall improved Community footprint Downtown. While events are at a temporary halt due to Covid-19, 18 of the 20 private offices upstairs are leased with fully operationalized businesses many of which are essential services (for-profit, non-profit and government offices). For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 669-239-0007. You can also visit our website at www.theneonexchange.com and/or our Facebook and Instagram page @neonexchange
[Neon Exchange Before Photo]
[Neon Exchange After Photo 1]
[Neon Exchange After Photo 2]
4. Lonely Oak Brewpub and Pizzeria – Status: Work Pending.
Lonely Oak Brewpub and Pizzeria will be a new business interest in the heart of downtown and has applied for the façade pilot program to renovate the awnings, roll up doors, signs, lighting, and improve ADA compliance. Lonely Oak Brewpub and Pizzeria is planned to be a nano brewery. With construction permits issued, work is underway on the underground plumbing, framing of the brew room and kitchen prep area, and bar counter construction from reclaimed wood. The City recently assisted the pub owners with an onsite review of the electrical power requirement and provided guidance on upgrading the panel to a higher amp system. Their anticipated finish date is the end of 2020.
[Lonely Oak Before Photo 1]
[Lonely Oak Before Photo 2]
5. Gallery 1202
Gallery 1202 is a fine art gallery in Downtown Gilroy and received a façade grant for painting, window replacement, door restoration, and signage. As stated in the South Valley magazine in “Gilroy Gallery Opens in Historic Downtown Hotel” by Erik Chaloub: “Emily McEwan-Upright envisioned a space where creative mothers and mid-career artists can display their work without the pressures and demands of a traditional fine art gallery. The result is Gallery 1202, which recently moved from the Pixley House on Fifth Street in downtown Gilroy to The Neon Exchange at 7363 Monterey St. and celebrated its grand opening in October. McEwan-Upright, who had recently completed an artist residency in Texas, used the gallery to display her own work for the first year.”
Gallery 1202 continues to add to the vitality of downtown with new exhibits every few months. Gallery 1202’s most recent exhibit, Women (Un)Silenced A Survey of Contemporary Black Artists, opened on October 10th and will be on display until November 20th showcasing “six American artists who give voice to those who have been historically silenced. Each of these artists seeks to challenge their audience to adjust and question their perspective on issues such as mental health, misogyny, racism, culture, and gender by using the female figure as a tool in their respective medium.”
[Gallery 1202 Women (Un)Silenced Press Release]
[Gallery 1202 Before Photo]
[Gallery 1202 After Photo 1]
[Gallery 1202 After Photo 2]
6. The Realty Society
The Realty Society in Downtown Gilroy is a group of real estate agents rooted in the South Bay Area, that are dedicated to providing client-centric practices that deliver an unparalleled real estate experience. In April of 2019, a vandal broke their storefront glass at 7451 Monterey Rd. To help re-build better they installed new windows with anti-shatter and anti-graffiti coating to help prevent damage in the future. The applicant had the following comments for the City Council:
We'd like to thank you for all of your work in this effort and for your help, specifically, with our business.
The vandalism couldn't have come at a worse time...we were shut down due to COVID-19 and our brokerage had a dry spell from mid-March until the end of May. The vandalism occurred in April.
Please give the City Council a huge THANK YOU in your upcoming report/meeting. The City of Gilroy truly helped a small business during a real time of need. We hope we can return the favor someday in some way.
Thank you again,
[The Realty Society Before Photo]
[The Realty Society After Photo]
These projects are all for renovating vacant buildings to prepare them for lease. The following are excerpts from each of the applications section on project description.
7. 7537 Monterey Rd
“A long-term tenant of 7573 Monterey Street has recently allowed the lease to terminate and has vacated the premises. This project is intended to address certain repairs needed to the property before it is leased and improve the appearance of the property to attract a new tenant. We anticipate that tenant improvements may be made to the property once we identify the new tenant and the upgrades needed for their business. The repair project has three main components.
Roof. There is an issue in the drain system that has caused back-up pooling and damage to the roof and interior of the building. This project will entail repair of the drain system, installation of an overflow drain and repair of the damage to the roofing material caused by the drainage backup.
Exterior. There are several areas where the exterior stucco needs to be repaired and patched. This will include preparation for painting the exterior of the building. This will involve new colors consisting of a cracked wheat tone for the base and a hunter green tone for accent. See pictures.
Interior. The interior of the building is in serious need of an upgrade. We have made the decision to wait for a new tenant to work with to upgrade. So to facilitate the marketing of the property, we have opted to remove two damaged pony walls, paint the walls an eggshell white, remove the carpet and scrape the glue. We will also spray the ceiling and replace discolored T-bar ceiling panels.”
[7537 Monterey Rd Before Photo]
[7537 Monterey Rd After Photo]
8. 7401 Monterey Rd – Status: Work Pending
“7401 Monterey Street is a locally designated historical building that was built around 1906. The building was declared to be an Unreinforced Masonry Building in 1991. This building has been vacant since 2007, approximately thirteen years. This property was acquired on August 27, 2007.
It is our intent to fully renovate and restore this building. Since its acquisition we have retrofitted the unreinforced masonry walls, repaired the roof and framed out the second-floor residential units. We are currently working with PG&E to restore electricity and gas services to the building. The next step of the renovation project is to address the second-floor facade of the building.
The first step involves the repair and of the existing stucco. This will include a skim coat over the existing stucco. This involves approximately 3,600 SF of stucco. Once complete, the second step is to prime and paint the stucco. We are in process of selecting new colors that will be submitted to the Design Committee for approval. The first and second stories of the building have approximately eighteen wood-trimmed windows. We will prime and paint the wood trim to protect it from the elements and improve the building appearance. We are in process of selecting new colors that will be submitted to the Design committee for approval.”
[7401 Monterey Rd Before Photo 1]
[7401 Monterey Rd Before Photo 2]
9. 7514 Monterey Rd – Status: Work Pending
“7415 Monterey Street is a locally designated historical building that was built around 1900. This building has been vacant and was not well maintained for approximately ten years. Over this time frame there has been some deterioration in the building due to weather intrusion. This property was acquired in February 2020.
It is our intent to fully renovate and restore this building. One of the first steps is to update the store-front of the building to improve its marketability. At some time in the past, the transom windows were removed. The windows and double doors that span the front of the building do not comply with current code and have significantly deteriorated. We also want to address the energy efficiency of the building.
It is our intent to uncover and restore the transom windows that were previously removed. In addition, we intend to replace the entire existing storefront. The new unit will feature tempered glass to meet current code and will be more energy efficient than the existing units. We will frame the windows and doors in a bronzed aluminum. We will repair the existing stucco and paint the front of the building with a new color scheme consisting of a light gray coat with a dark gray accent color.”
[7514 Monterey Rd Before Photo 1]
[7514 Monterey Rd Before Photo 2]
10. 7515 Monterey Rd – Status: Work Pending
“7515 Monterey Street is a locally designated historical building that was built around 1900. The building was declared to be an Unreinforced Masonry Building in 1991. This building has been vacant and not well maintained for more than ten years. Over this time frame there has been some deterioration of the building due to weather intrusion. This property was acquired in October 2019.
It is our intent to fully renovate and restore this building. Since its acquisition we have developed plans to reinforce or replace the unreinforced masonry walls as well as repairing and replacing the roof. The City is currently reviewing these plans and we expect approval shortly. The next step is to concurrently address the structurally unsound front parapet and update the store-front to improve marketability. At some time in the past, the transom windows were removed. The windows and glass doors that span the front of the building do not comply with current code and have significantly deteriorated. We also want to address the energy efficiency of the building.
It is our intent to uncover and restore the transom windows that were previously removed. In addition, we intend to replace the entire existing storefront. The new unit will feature tempered glass to meet current code and will be more energy efficient than the existing units. We will frame the windows and doors in a bronzed aluminum. We will repair and repaint the existing brick front.”
[7515 Monterey Rd Before Photo 1]
[7515 Monterey Rd Before Photo 2]
11. 7475 Monterey Rd – Status: Work Pending
“7574 Monterey Street is a locally designated historical building that was built around 1922. The building was declared to be an Unreinforced Masonry Building in 1991. This building has been vacant and not maintained since November 2007, approximately thirteen years. Over this time frame there has been significant deterioration in the building due to weather intrusion and vandalism. This property was acquired on December 30, 2019.
It is our intent to fully renovate and restore this building. Since its acquisition we have replaced the unreinforced masonry wall and are in process of repairing and replacing the roof. We should be done with that shortly. The next step of the renovation project is to begin to address the front and rear façade of the building. The first step involves the replacement of the existing transom windows. These window frames have significantly deteriorated and some of the windows are inoperable and/or broken.
We have identified a window manufacturer that can faithfully replicate the existing windows. It is our intent to repair and/or replace the existing damaged transom windows. As part of the process we will replace or repair the window framing and headers as necessary to address wood rot. We will also reflash and water seal the windows to ensure the windows are water-tight going forward. We will also remove the awning boxes and the pigeon spikes in the front windows.”
[7475 Monterey Rd Before Photo 1]
[7475 Monterey Rd Before Photo 2]
12. Ernie’s Plumbing
The City of Gilroy initiated a special volunteer lead project to repair and update the parking lot north of 6th street and Railroad for the nearby youth center. The City added new pavers, colorful crepe myrtle trees, handicap pavement markings and signs, and new gorilla hair mulch in the landscaping, all with the help of volunteers and City staff.
The revitalization efforts of the parking lot, led by retiree and City volunteer Rachel Munoz, then went one step further by helping Ernie’s Plumbing restore their property’s façade. When the business owner, Ernie Lopez, applied for the Façade Grant it was near the last day of the program. However, there was still approximately $4,900 in available funds. But for this applicant the funds would not have been put to use on a new façade. The City approved the modest funding because of the combined efforts to clean up the neighboring parking lot. This grant award will help improve a much blighted building allowing the neighborhood area to look safe and appealing.
Ernie Lopez worked with Epic paint company Danny Martin to make these new changes. In addition, the improvement project opened up conversations with the owner of the building that Mr. Lopez rents for his business. The owner of 7411 Railroad Street Contacted Ernie has officially offered to sell the building to Ernie Lopez. Ernie is excited about purchasing this building that he has rented it for over 25 years. It is likely none of this could have ever transpired had we not been trying to improve the Railroad parking lots.
“On behalf of Ernie’s Plumbing business and myself, we wish to thank the City of Gilroy for sponsoring the Downtown Façade Pilot Project. Providing seed money as an incentive to improve the façade surely help to motivate and facilitate a new look.
The application process was not hard at all. We found out about the Downtown façade pilot project by Downtown Gilroy Leader Gary Walton. He told us to contact Trevin Barber who was in charge of the program. Due to covid 2019, we actually thought we had missed the opportunity however Trevin assured us that it was still a possibility because we had had been coordinating and organizing with the Railroad Street Neighborhood Revitalization project in early June 2020. It was encouraging and exciting to be given the opportunity to submit the application for the façade improvement project. The application asked several good questions however we recommend revisiting the original application because in some areas it asks the same questions over and over.
Once Trevin the Senior Management Analyst received the application, within a super short time we received a positive email that our application had been accepted.
What a great joy and today Oct. 3, 2020, Ernie Building located at 7411 railroad has a whole new great look. The once blighted graffiti tin building now has a new soft warm positive look all thanks to the City of Gilroy Façade Pilot project.
Thanks again to the City of Gilroy Downtown Façade Pilot Project, the Eastside Neighborhood and those traveling the 6th and Railroad corridor area now has a nice new pleasant modern look. Our goal for improving this building exterior was to encourage community to utilize the north and southbound Railroad parking lots. To feel safe as they strolled over to the parking lots. Passerby citizen gave thumbs up validating the new look and appearance.
In final notes, we encourage City Council and City Administrator to consider continuing the Downtown Façade Pilot project giving more opportunities to other businesses who now can see the multiple positive benefits and accomplishments that have occurred.
Please see the before and after photos of Ernie’s Plumbing.
-Mr. Ernie Lopez, Plumbing Business 7411 Railroad Street
-Rachel R. Muñoz Community Volunteer & Retiree City of Gilroy Police Department
[Ernie’s Plumbing Before Photo]
[Ernie’s Plumbing After Photo]
[Parking Lot After Photo]