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Downtown report shows increased event attendance; slight improvement in vacancy rates
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While the effects of the troubled economy continue to ripple through Turlock’s business communities, the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association marked 2010 as a year of successful campaigns that brought more people to the downtown corridor, said the association’s executive director Trina Walley.

Walley delivered the 2010 annual report on the downtown district Thursday night, categorizing it as a year that brought new opportunities for growth, while continuing to adjust to the “new normal” economy.

The downtown corridor that is represented by the TDPOA extends down Main Street from Palm Street to Lander Avenue and the block offshoots crossing Main. It encompasses 357,677 square feet of ground floor space. Of that, 61,149 square feet, or 16.1 percent of downtown is vacant, which is a full percentage point lower than 2009’s vacancy rate of 17.1 percent. The vacancy rate peaked in August 2010 at 21.5 percent, which is lower than 2009’s peak in March of 25 percent.

All total, 2010 saw 12 businesses close or move out of downtown, while 13 businesses opened or expanded in the district.

The TDPOA went into 2010 with a budget that had been trimmed by 15 percent, with the largest portion of the funding going towards maintenance costs — both ongoing and as-needed projects. The organization, which is funded through fees paid by the property owners and special events, will cut their budget by 10 percent for the 2011 year, with promotions funding taking the brunt of the cost-cutting.

As the funds for promotion has lessened, the TDPOA has placed more reliance on social networking for marketing avenues.

“Our Facebook site has grown from 400 to 1,100 fans,” Walley said. “Our Taste of Turlock page grew to 1,300 fans and the farmers market had 1,200. When those get going again, that’s a great way to reach out to people.”

The capstone of the TDPOA year was the bevy of events that brought new and returning visitors to downtown.

The highlight of the year’s activities was the annual Christmas parade, which drew 24,000 visitors last year, the highest attendance yet Walley said.

Other highlights were the restructured farmers market and Taste of Turlock. The farmers market drew numerous crowds each Friday morning and had an average of 20 to 30 vendors setting up shop each week. Taste of Turlock, which switched from an arts based format to a cultural one, sold out for the first time, Walley said. The Fourth of July parade, which returned to downtown just a few years ago, increased attendance by 4,000 from 2009, with 12,000 people taking in the patriotic activities in downtown in 2010.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.