The Fallas store in Santa Maria had been a part of downtown for nearly a decade; but now that they've closed its doors, city leaders are eyeing the spot as a target for new apartments.
On Monday Santa Maria's Downtown Revitalization Committee reviewed the new plans for the site located off South Broadway and across from the Santa Maria Town Center Mall.
"We have a proposal from the Vernon Group for the conversion of the existing Fallas retail store into loft apartments," said director of community development, Chuen Ng.
The proposal would include 102 new apartments, part of the city's ongoing efforts to find new spots for housing. The city says the Fallas conversion project is just one of the many initiatives in the works from Santa Maria's downtown revitalization project.
"We have a vision and a plan for downtown and it includes residential and commercial use things to make downtown a destination." Ng continued.
"I hope we see apartments down there, businesses that are able to thrive and more activity for more of our local people." added Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino.
Santa Maria resident Cecilia Torres, is in favor of the plan.
"I think it is a good idea because I need more places for living." admitted Torres. She says she has ran into trouble in her own search for housing because of the high costs, but says seeing more housing options available gives her hope more affordable housing options will arise.
While Ng says the apartment plan for the former Fallas site will be offered at market price, he has uplifting news for locals like Cecilia Torres.
"As part of the overall downtown vision I expect for there to be affordable apartments, but not this particular Fallas conversion." Ng said.
Other locals we spoke with said they thought the Fallas store was an odd location for a future apartment complex, but that they were generally pleased to see more housing options popping up in their city.
Santa Maria city leaders say an approved conversion plan would also result in a possible relocation of Downtown Fridays, and they are already considering alternative sites for the weekly summer event.
The Santa Maria City Council is expected to vote on the plan by the end of this year.