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Old Town Looks New Again

Will Old Town Newhall soon go the way of Old Town Pasadena? If the City of Santa Clarita has its way the historic Valley community will. Since the end of 2005, the City has strategized how to revitalize Newhall, and the opening of almost a handful of new businesses in recent months indicates that Santa Clarita’s efforts are paying off. Alex Hernandez, an administrative analyst in the City of Santa Clarita’s Community Development Department, discussed the strategy to revitalize Old Town Newhall. “The specific plan provides new zoning and land uses for the more than 500-acre area,” Hernandez said. “Those new uses include increased density, which offers more opportunities for transit oriented development; additional public facilities, such as a library and museum; and opportunities for private investments.” In addition to the new library, five years from now the City hopes to have a new residential project of approximately 120 units and to have completed one of the two parking structures. Combined, the parking structures would provide more than 800 spaces. The redevelopment agency has identified additional restaurants, retail and entertainment businesses suitable for the area as well. “The hope is that we’re able to expand existing businesses or relocate unique, one-of-a-kind stores to add to the destination appeal of Old Town Newhall,” Hernandez said. In a period of months, the area has become home to four new business establishments. On Main Street sits Poka Dott Trinket and Party Shoppe, Capelli Salon and Minni Max Cleaners and Tuxedos. On nearby Market Street sits the Loose Goose Wine Festival’s headquarters and private membership wine cellar. “The addition of these businesses shows that Old Town Newhall is still an appealing area for business owners,” Mayor Bob Kellar stated. “The combination of one-of-a-kind, unique shops and restaurants gives Old Town Newhall its character.” Peter Goossens, founder of the Loose Goose Wine Festival, and Sabina Fetter, owner of Capelli Salon, were drawn to the neighborhood largely because of its character. Loose Goose has been in the area since November, while Capelli took up residence two months prior to that. “I love the authenticity, since we have an Old World philosophy on wine,” Goossens said. “We wanted to go into a neighborhood that looked and felt authentic looking. I’ve always liked this area. I liked the history behind it. This is where Santa Clarita Valley got started. That was one of the attractions.” Like Goossens, Fetter believes that the look of the neighborhood complemented the image she had in mind for her business. “Because the vision that I had for my salon is very bohemian eclectic,I have artwork from local artists that are for sale,it all came together. It really ties in,” she explained. “Hair in and of itself is an art form. When you’re doing color, it’s an art form. I’m glad to be in the art section of Old Town.” In addition to being the home of the aforementioned businesses, Old Town Newhall is home to the area’s theater community. Goossens said that the theaters in the neighborhood have kept him coming there for years. “We’ve been a big supporter and sponsor of the two theaters that are out here,” he said. “I’ve been coming here for the past five or six years almost once a month, if not more.” When Goossens saw the revitalization plans Santa Clarita had in store for Newhall, he decided that Market Street would be a good location. At the time, “We were looking for a small authentic place we could turn into a private wine cellar and have our offices and have a tasting eventually,” he said. Before that, Loose Goose had its temporary headquarters on Town Center Drive in Valencia. While he praised that area, Goossens said he wanted to play a role in Old Town Newhall’s renaissance. “We’re very much looking forward to all the exciting plans they have here,” he said. “We also felt that we could probably bring some more people to this area.” Fetter was similarly motivated. She initially planned on situating her salon in a strip mall, but, after learning that the City planned to give Newhall a facelift of sorts, she decided to support the effort by setting up shop there. “I’ve been living up here for over 30 years. I know how the area was beforehand,” she said. “There used to be some pretty upscale shops on what is now Main Street, but, over the years, basically the genre of businesses changed not for the better.” Accordingly, Fetter said she supports the Newhall renaissance effort wholeheartedly. “It takes businesses like mine to turn the tide,” she said. Fetter believes that the area has undergone a marked improvement in appearance since even last year. “With the parking changes and the angled parking and the fa & #231;ades on the buildings, it looks a 100 times better than it looked a year ago,” she said. Fetter looks forward to the streetscaping scheduled to begin after July. That encompasses the placement of benches, tables, shrubs, lighting and more in the area. “Enhanced landscape and streetscape plans will hopefully add to the transformation of the look and feel of Main Street,” Hernandez said. “There’s excitement about the possibilities for invigorating Newhall. Merchants understand that it will take some time and are involved in community meetings to help determine marketing strategies, streetscape improvements and the makeup of the library facility.” Construction on the new library could start as early as summer 2009, according to Hernandez. However, it is uncertain when the nearby museum will be constructed. “In order of priority, the parking structures are crucial to the success of the revitalization of the area, and we hope those could be constructed before the museum,” Hernandez explained. For more information on Old Town Newhall, visit www.mynewmainstreet.com .

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