San Jose Storefronts Initiative Aims to Bring More Businesses Downtown

City leaders say it’s time to fill vacant storefronts downtown

Alfredo Diaz has seen businesses come and go while running his clothing store in downtown San Jose. He’s run Diaz’s Menswear for 28 years in the same location on Santa Clara Street.

What’s his secret?

“I work sometimes seven days a week in order to stay in business,” Diaz said.

Diaz concedes his business model sometimes struggles because of his next door neighbor, a vacant building that once housed Toons nightclub.

“The problem with downtown is we don’t have many businesses and when you don’t have many businesses, people don’t tend to come,” Diaz said.

City leaders say the South Bay economy has rebounded, and it’s time to fill all the vacancies downtown.

“We want to take empty storefronts and turn them from vacant to vibrant, and really help the small businessperson that wants to open a store in San Jose,” said Kim Walesh, the city’s director of economic development, moments before launching San Jose Storefronts Initiative.

The $250,000 initiative is geared at luring more people to open shop in downtown San Jose and within the city’s 12 other business districts.

The initiative helps new business owners cover the expensive costs of opening a store.

Walesh launched the initiative to help new business owners deal with the large expense of opening a retail shop.

“The city is offering $16,000 in grants to help cover the cost of city permits, fees, and taxes," Walesh said.

Walesh calls it an investment. But, for Alfredo Diaz, the enticement is welcomed news.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Diaz said.

Diaz said he would love to have a next-door neighbor again.

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