Vacant Grass Valley businesses required to dress storefronts |

Vacant Grass Valley businesses required to dress storefronts

John Orona
Staff Writer

Chronically vacant storefronts in Grass Valley’s town core will soon need to spruce up their window displays following an ordinance aimed at protecting the area’s business community.

The Grass Valley City Council on Tuesday passed the second reading of an ordinance mandating vacant commercial space owners contact the city within 30 days of the vacancy to coordinate installation of window displays that would make the business more attractive to patrons.

The ordinance becomes effective 30 days after the vote.

“Our goal is to make sure blight doesn’t occur in the downtown area and protect the long-term character, historic integrity and all the positive things in the downtown area that’s really the need for this,” Community Development Director Tom Last said. “The goal is not to add cost to those vacant building owners, but to at least give the appearance that it’s available and there’s a presence there, so it doesn’t just look blighted and shut down.”

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Property owners have the choice of installing faux window dressing, giving the appearance of a vibrant business; works of art that would screen views of the vacant commercial space from the public right-of-way; visually appealing painting applied directly to the window; or other measures to improve the building’s appearance and avoid blight.

The displays must cover at least 80% of a window area and need to be changed every six months while the space remains vacant.

Last said work on the ordinance began last year and had immediate effects on the few properties that would have been affected at that time.

“As we went through meetings last fall, it was interesting to see after we drafted this ordinance some of the owners made changes to be in compliance before it was in effect,” said Last, who mentioned at least two businesses made changes. “It’s nice to see that stewardship and that they do care about the community.”

According to Last, although there are few vacant properties in the town core — stretching roughly from South School Street on the west end to Tinloy Street on the east, and from Neal Street on the south border to Richardson Street in the north — the city did not want that to start a snowball effect.

“Not maintaining the aesthetic of those buildings can have dramatic effects to other businesses,” Last said.

The ordinance will not apply to properties that can prove they are actively repairing or rehabilitating the space without significant delay.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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