Facelift underway for Oceanside’s Artists Alley

Facelift underway for Oceanside’s Artists Alley
MainStreet Oceanside program manager Gumaro Escarcega and city economic development manager Tracey Bohlen are spearheading the makeover project. Artists Alley is home to galleries, a flower shop, and a coastal antique store. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — At the urging of downtown business owners, the city is giving Artists Alley a facelift.

The pedestrian promenade sits in the heart of the downtown arts district. It is located half a block east of Coast Highway 101 between Mission Avenue and Pier View Way. Along the alley are galleries, a flower shop and a coastal antique store.

Most gallery and shop owners moved in within the last few years, and have benefited from additional walk-in clients from First Friday art walks and recent Mission Avenue improvements.

Myles McGuinness, 9MPhoto gallery owner, has rented a gallery space for three and a half years. He said there is a good momentum building with like businesses moving in, but people still have trouble finding his gallery.

Planned upgrades for the alley will clearly mark its location with signage on both ends, and spruce up its look.

The brick fence and lampposts have already been patched and freshly painted.

Next steps are for the tarnished streetlight globes to be replaced, and illuminated with brighter LED bulbs.

Then landscaping will be freshened up with drought-tolerant plants, and a drip irrigation system will be installed.

Several city departments will work on the improvements.

“Electrical will replace light heads with LED lighting, they’re much brighter and more energy efficient,” Tracey Bohlen, city economic development manager, said.

“The water department is helping me with drought-tolerant plants, and will re-energize the waterline and put in a drip system,” Bohlen said.

Ideas are also brewing on building an outdoor art wall where works can be displayed.

The goal is to help visitors find Artists Alley shops and feel welcome.

The city economic development department worked with MainStreet Oceanside, the building owner and businesses to develop improvement plans.

Bohlen gave kudos to City Manager Steve Jepsen for giving the project a green light, and MainStreet Oceanside program manager Gumaro Escarcega for bringing business owners’ requests to the city.

She said changes would spruce up the alley and give it a more defined sense of place.

“We value Artists Alley,” Bohlen said. “The specific area makes a big impact on people’s lives. Improvements will make the community feel good about Oceanside.”

Funds within involved departments budgets paid for the $14,000 improvements. Work is expected to be completed by March.

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