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Historic downtown building undergoing renovations; Longtime businesses forced to find new storefront
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The historic Enterprise Building on West Main Street will soon receive a complete overhaul that will modernize the interior, restore the exterior to its original 1900's look, while also developing the second story space. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The pie-shaped Enterprise Building, located on the south side of West Main Street between Lander and Broadway, has been welcoming residents and visitors alike to Turlock's downtown area since 1905. The historic building will soon receive a complete overhaul that will modernize the interior, restore the exterior to its original 1900's look, while also developing the second story space.

Brownstone Equities, owned by local businessman Matt Swanson, purchased the building five years ago with the intent to renovate the unique space. Demolition has already begun on the second floor of the building — space that has been unoccupied for many years, said Eric Gonsalves, vice president of Brownstone Equities. Soon the project will include seismic retrofitting (to reinforce the second floor in case of earthquakes) and a number of additions to bring the building up to City code and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

This will be the third building that Swanson has revamped in the same downtown area, including the Berg Building that houses Memo's Cocina and Tequila Bar and the Hauck's building, which is currently under construction on the ground level for Hauck's Grill. The second story of the Hauck's building also houses the Brownstone Equities office — an executive suite remodel that highlights the original brickwork and repurposes the 100-year old wood into desk tops, door frames and other accents.

"It's about bringing life back to the downtown," said Gonsalves about the many Main Street projects.

Gonsalves said that he grew up coming to the downtown area as his parents owned a store on Main Street and would often meet for lunch at the old Hauck's.

"I bring my kids down here now and I want my kids to come back with their kids and say 'my dad used to bring me here,'" he said. "It's a rich tradition."

While the renovations will bring a more aesthetically pleasing facade for the building and the development of the currently unused space on the second floor, it will also mean the relocation of a handful of longtime Main Street businesses and the closing of at least one shop that has been part of downtown Turlock for six decades.

All of the current tenants of the Enterprise Building were notified on Friday that they would have to vacate the premises in 30 days. Gonsalves said that notice was extended to May 9, to allow the businesses to have more time to find another location.

The businesses affected include the Turlock Flower Shop, Joy Dravecky Jewelry, Joe' s Clock & Watch Shop, Bob's Shoe Repair and The Haircutters.

There's been a barber shop on the eastern corner of the Enterprise Building for 82 years and the Turlock Flower Shop has been there for 62. Both the watch and clock shop and shoe repair have been on W. Main Street for over 30 years. Joy Dravecky Jewelry is the only newcomer to the building, opening up shop in fall 2015.

All of the businesses are looking for new locations — except for the Turlock Flower Shop.

"We're not relocating, we're closing the doors," said owner Ben Zamaroni, who bought the flower shop five years ago.

Zamaroni  said he felt "blindsided" by the 30-day notice.

"The whole way they went about it, a 30-day notice, you can't move out of your house in 30 days, let alone move a business... I don't blame Matt Swanson for trying to make the building beautiful, it's just the way he treated people."

Gonsalves said that the business owners were informed of the plans to renovate the building five years ago and all tenants are on a month-to-month lease.

Hermez Marukel has owned Bob's Shoe Repair since 1999. He said he's hoping to find a new location in the downtown area.

"Maybe I'll lose some customers, maybe a lot of customers," Marukel said of changing locations.

Both Gonsalves and Maryn Pitt, the City of Turlock's head of economic development, have been helping the business owners look for new locations in the downtown area.

Pitt said the development of the downtown's unused second story space has been in the works for awhile and the City facilitated bringing the property owners, City Building Department and Fire Marshall together to find a way to safely make the projects a reality.

"In 2009, we had almost a 40 percent vacancy rate in the downtown," said Pitt. "Now on the bottom floor there's not much vacant space, so everyone's looking at the second story spaces."

Brownstone Equities started the renovation of the second story of the Berg Building, but more work needs to be done before it can be occupied. Gonsalves said another second story project that could happen in the future is the renovation of the Sierra Building on the corner of E. Main and Thor streets, which currently houses the Century 21 M&M Associates.

"There is a desire to do it, but it's a big undertaking," said Gonsalves of the 10,000 sq. ft. space.

All of the investment in the downtown area is good for Turlock's economic health, said Pitt.

"We're very fortunate, there are a lot of cities who have a lot of development in other places in their community and their downtown is dying. We have places like Monte Vista Crossings and a growing downtown, with all the restaurants and shops.

" The vibrancy of a community is gauged by what their downtown looks like and ours is vibrant."