By Mario Conde
Three months after the Easter Sunday earthquake, Downtown Calexico is still working its way to recovery from the damages made to downtown.
The 7.2 Earthquake cause more damaged to an already weak economy hitting the downtown area the hardest since most of the buildings within the boundary are unreinforced type of construction. The intensity of the earthquake tested the structural strength and integrity of those older commercial and residential structures. The City closed down and red-tagged several building while the downtown area was closed for ten days causing a dramatic effect on the City’s largest single revenue source, retail sales tax. Downtown is now in the process of reconstruction and improvements and trying to develop a new face for Calexico.
Last Wednesday, Planning Inspector Ralph Morales gave a report the Calexico Business Improvement District about the status of building on the downtown area. Morales reported that on First Street they completed the shoring of Gran Mercado that allowed the neighboring business to open. Plans to conduct permanent repair of the Gran Mercado are under review.
On Second Street, the Fallas Paredes store is currently under construction, replacing parapet wall and repairing arcade. The T.C. Worthy store on Second Street was demolished that included the Arias Restaurant. The store next to them, Sony is submitting application for demolition of arcade. Top & More roof collapsed and are submitting application to repair and remove arcades.
The other demolished buildings in downtown Calexico are the property that hosted Payless, Casa Bonita, and the legendary Hot Dog Stand. However, the property owners are planning to start reconstructing that building in two months and will have those same stores. One of the buildings that were severally damaged was Melrose and its property owners are submitting plans to reinforce the frontage were it cracked the top front side of the store. The Rainbow store had to take away its façade after the earthquake its now submitting plans to renovate the arcades and put a new sign soon.
One key store that didn’t came back after the earthquake is Rite Aid on Third Street who shut down its operations in downtown and relocated to its second location next to Food 4 Less. The property needs to renovate bearing interior columns. The City will be removing chain link enclosure that surrounds the store soon. On Imperial Avenue, 1001 Novedades is under construction, renovating the parapet wall and Yturralde constructed temporary shoring for the parapet wall.
The VIP Adult Book Store and the building next to the Donut shop were destroyed. Morales said that in the area were the VIP Adult Book Store was located, there is a proposal to have strip mall but nothing is set as of now.