Jeff Pelline: Another tale of two cities
About two years ago, I wrote a column that seemed innocent enough, “Which downtown do you prefer”? It quoted my Grass Valley friend as saying: “My dear Jeffrey, the word on the street is that downtown Grass Valley is the place to ‘see and be seen,’ not Nevada City. But don’t worry – things can change.”
My column supported her statement, pointing to the revitalization of Grass Valley’s downtown and some holes in Nevada City’s plan. Some merchants and residents in my hometown, Nevada City, were none too pleased. Some letters were downright hostile: “Why don’t you move?”
Well now, as my friend suggested, things are changing a bit.
The soon-to-be vacant Broad Street Furnishings building in Nevada City suddenly has become one hot tamale: as a theater-in-the-round for Foothill’s next play, and a deal to bring California Organics there if it can be completed.
This sounds innovative for a 28,000-square-foot space that is about to become empty, because 31-year-old Broad Street Furnishings is going out of business. We need more locals in the downtown.
In Grass Valley, meanwhile, we learn that the fourth chain drugstore is being proposed – this time for the old Hills Flat Lumber site. It has a Victorian design, we are told. And the drugstore chain, Longs and soon-to-be CVS, has deep pockets. Whatever.
We’ve already got three chain drugstores in nearby Burger Basin: an existing Longs, a Rite-Aid and a planned Walgreens. I’ve been looking at that weed patch that used to be Jim Keil Chevrolet for a long time now, so something is better than nothing.
But this also reminds me of our demographics: one of the state’s oldest populations and getting older. I sure appreciate a neighborhood drugstore, and definitely did when I waited in line to fill my parents’ prescriptions. I guess if you owned Longs stock, which soared on its takeover by CVS, you’d like them too.
But enough already.
Who knows how any of the pending deals will turn out. But it’s a reminder that we’ve got to work harder to attract more families and higher-paying jobs to our community, as well as retirees, like my parents were.
While we debate a new branding campaign for our area, such as “Culture and creativity at the edge of nature,” I’m wondering if we’re becoming the “pharmacy (legal and illegal) place of the Sierra.”
I’m kidding, but I do think the developments should stir up another serious debate about economic development. In the meantime, hats off to some creative thinking in my hometown.
Jeff Pelline is the editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturdays. Contact him at 477-4235, email@example.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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