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Barry Holtzclaw

Ready for the future... SIGN OF THE TIMES

The banner across Monterey Street, hung within days of the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting, says it all, as the city’s downtown finds new energy and new businesses. PAGE 4B

Remembering the past

Robert Eliason

RODEO CELEBRATION Galloping horses and waving flags greet rodeo fans enjoying the second year of the Gilroy Rodeo, after a six-decade hiatus. The rodeo is one of many attractions cited by a new Welcome Center. PAGE 6B




SEPTEMBER 27, 2019


Erik Chalhoub

Christopher Ranch LLC 650 employees Olam International 500 Walmart 395 United Natural Foods, Inc. 230 Temple Inland 180 Headstart Nursery 180 Syngenta Seeds 175 Performance Food Group 160 Cintas Corporation 140 Target 130

TOP PERFORMANCE Business leaders and Performance Food Group executives and workers cut the ribbon on

new food processing facility, which moved to Gilroy from Santa Cruz County.

Location pays off for Gilroy COMPANIES MOVING HERE ADD JOBS Michael Moore Reporter

Gilroy has become such an attraction for companies looking to open up shop or relocate here that the city is running out of land available for largescale commercial use. For now, that might be a good problem to have, but it’s a growing concern for economic development proponents who want to see a continued diversity of jobs available for the city’s increasing population. Gilroy Economic Development Corporation President Tammy Brownlow listed the many

recent commercial success stories in the city in recent months, along with upcoming expected challenges. “The vacancy rate for commercial is almost non-existent” in Gilroy, Brownlow said. That indicates there is a high demand for new construction for commercial purposes, despite the limited space available for such building. Recent or upcoming commercial relocations and openings in Gilroy include: • Digital Storm, which recently purchased a Gilroy site to relocate its company and 50 employees from Morgan Hill;

Performance Foodservice, which relocated in August to its new, 185,000-square-foot distribution center in Gilroy at 5480 Monterey Road; • A new 12,000-squarefoot commercial/retail shopping center under development at First Street and Hecker Pass Highway; • A new hotel, convenience store and other retail uses, including restaurants, near the intersection of U.S. 101 and Tenth Street, under development by Evergreen; • The Hampton Inn hotel under construction in south Gilroy on Travel Park Circle;

• Sumano’s Bakery, which plans to relocate from its Watsonville headquarters to a site on Monterey Street in downtown Gilroy; • Kendal Floral, a wholesale florist company, recently relocated to Gilroy from Watsonville. Brownlow noted that Gilroy has become “really attractive” for distribution centers and regional companies due to its “logistical location,” which includes easy access to the Bay Area, Salinas Valley, Central Valley and the coast. The city’s downtown has made significant commercial strides in recent years, particularly with the opening of new

restaurants and brewpubs, such as Promised Land and Lonely Oak (the latter slated to open later this year at 7373 Monterey Street). Other upcoming restaurants in downtown Gilroy include an Asian food court and an upscale Americanstyle diner at the old Gilroy Bank at 7529 Monterey Street. Brownlow noted that the slowly moving seismic retrofitting process for Unreinforced Masonry buildings is finally paying off in the city’s downtown. In 2011, there were more than 20 such buildings downtown; now there are only three, with some still in the process of retrofitting.

“Some cool spaces are going to be opened downtown,” Brownlow said. But there are some upcoming challenges for citywide commercial growth and job creation, Brownlow explained. With the approval of the Gilroy Urban Growth Boundary in 2016, voters set a “harsh boundary around the community” for commercial construction. A “Place Based Economic Development Strategy,” completed by the EDC earlier this year, found that there are currently only eight vacant or “underdeveloped” properties within the UGB that are available for future commercial or mixed-use construction.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2019



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SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Beer options grow downtown PROMISED LAND, BARTENDERS UNION GAINING STEAM Erik Chalhoub Magazine and Business Editor

Erik Chalhoub

Beer lovers in Gilroy can find a perfect one-two punch downtown. Located right next door to each other on Monterey Street is Bartenders Union Local 408 (opened in 2017) and Promised Land Brewing Company (opened earlier this year). Meanwhile, Golden State Brew and Grill, 7560 Monterey St., closed in September after more than a year in operation, while Lonely Oak Brew Pub and Pizzeria is planned for 7373 Monterey St. Not too long ago, Gilroy was a source of frustration for suds fans, who often had to drive to San Jose, Santa Cruz and other cities just to get their fix. “For years we were a beer desert out here,” said Eric Ingram, co-owner of Promised Land. “I call it a wasteland. Distributors would put their outdated beer down here, and it was obvious.” Ingram began homebrewing in 2007, and he is quick to note that it produced “nothing good” until about the sixth batch. He quipped that he learned everything from “YouTube University.” Ingram and his wife Nicole are partners with Ingram’s father in Gilroy’s BBQ 152, and craft beer eventually made its way to the restaurant. The business of beer and barbecue naturally led to the opening of Promised Land. “It made the business a lot more fun,” he said. “We met some good people, made some

BUSINESS OF BEER Dustin Evanger is the owner of Bartenders

Union Local 408 at 7421 Monterey St. in Gilroy.

fine relationships, and that pretty much led us to this.” Promised Land, which recently added another day of operation, frequently releases new beer, which it announces on its Instagram page (@ promisedlandbrewing). Bartenders Union is not a brewery. Rather, it’s a place with 20 beers on tap, most from

California, and owner Dustin Evanger envisions it as a bar where bartenders will go to hang out after their shifts. Evanger said Bartenders Union’s offerings are constantly changing, pouring various IPAs, blondes, sours and more. “We try to have an offering for everybody,” said Evanger, who also created the Hill Bar & Grill

in Morgan Hill. “There’s so many types of beers being brewed now that people aren’t aware of.” Evanger purchased the building and former bar at 7421 Monterey St., and he and his crew tore it down to the studs and rebuilt it. The work has paid off. “The response has been pretty overwhelming,” Evanger

said. “People are coming in here and seeing what we’ve done. We added light, added openness, added cleanliness. People have been very thankful for that.” It also plays a key role in creating a vibrant downtown. Bartenders Union hosts weekly pool tournaments, Bingo events and trivia nights.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2019






SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Gilroy’s international flavor WELCOME CENTER BOOSTS CITY ATTRACTIONS Erik Chalhoub Magazine and Business Editor

Erik Chalhoub

Many Gilroy residents may not be aware of how much of an international destination the Garlic Capital has become. But the marketing professionals at the California Welcome Center Gilroy sure are. According to data from the center, people from 35 to 38 different countries walk through its doors each month. China, Germany and Canada are the top three countries that Gilroy visitors call home. In addition, in August, for example, six people from Romania, four from Lithuania and one from Ukraine visited the Garlic City. “Local residents just don’t realize this international draw that we have,” said Jane Howard, the center’s executive director. “It’s amazing.” Howard said the center’s staff of six is in a unique position. “Every day you don’t know who is going to walk through the doors,” she said. “You are interacting with the world. And you are representing Gilroy.” The center, located in the Gilroy Premium Outlets, got a major boost a year ago when the California Office of

Tourism chose Gilroy as a site for a new California Welcome Center. The former Gilroy Welcome Center was rebranded as the California Welcome Center Gilroy, and held its grand opening in March. “We are now a key strategic partner for Visit California,” Howard said. “That weighs volumes.” As an official state-designated office, the center receives $250,000 in marketing from Visit California. It is promoted on Visit California’s website, which receives an average of 1.5 million unique visits each month, as well as various print and digital marketing campaigns and publications, including the California Official State Visitor’s Guide and Travel Planner, the California Official State Map and the California Road Trips Guide. The Central Coast Tourism Council also features California Welcome Center Gilroy on its 2019 visitor map with domestic and international distribution of 250,000. The 1,500-square-foot center itself features more Gilroy- and Californiathemed merchandise, as well as a wall filled with brochures of nearby tourist destinations. The state has also installed signage along Highway 101, directing travelers to the welcome center. The signs were placed June 1, and have had an immediate impact, according to Howard. “We’ve had a significant

GILROY REPS California Welcome Center Gilroy Executive Director Jane Howard (left) and

Manager Pam Gimenez are among the staff who greet visitors from all over the world. increase in traffic with people coming in and saying, ‘I saw the California Welcome Center sign,’” she said. After visitors walk through the door and are greeted, the questions begin. Howard said visitors are asked, among other things, what brought them to the area and how long they plan on staying, and staff is then able to give recommendations based on the visitors’ interests. “Once we’ve got them in here, we not only provide them with information of other destinations they want to visit, but we talk about what Gilroy has to offer,” she said. The center’s most popular map is its “Road to

Garlic,” which made its debut last year. The map highlights nearly 40 different shops, restaurants, and other attractions that all center around Gilroy’s garlic heritage. The welcome center currently receives $300,000 in annual funding from the city, with additional funds coming from the city’s tourism business inclusion district (TBID). TBIDs establish a tax paid by hoteliers that goes toward tourism promotion in a city. Reassuring visitors that Gilroy is a safe destination in the aftermath of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting on July 28 is the biggest challenge facing

the center, and Howard said Visit California has been very helpful with messaging and other support during this time. In addition, the center recently purchased a billboard that will be installed on Highway 101 near the Highway 129 intersection, an area with 120,000 vehicles traveling through weekly. The billboard, which will be on display from October through December, encourages travelers to “Visit Gilroy,” and features images of shopping, wine and Gilroy Gardens. Howard said the billboard purchase was in response to the Garlic Festival incident, adding that she used the funds that were intended

for hiring an additional staff member. Howard praised the Gilroy City Council for supporting the center and tourism with its annual funding. “Tourism is one of those things that is hard to do because it is so competitive,” she said. “But it’s a natural for Gilroy. We have amazing beauty around us that allows a lot of activities that we can take advantage of. Why wouldn’t Gilroy be a tourist destination?” The California Welcome Center Gilroy is located at 8155-6 Arroyo Circle in the Gilroy Premium Outlets. For information, visit or call (408) 842-6436.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2019






SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Tarmo Hannula

Downtown on the rise

Open House October 20, 11:00 am

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Gilroy business owners aim to make downtown a retail and entertainment destination. This fall, the repaving of Monterey Street will be disrupting traffic, but the city hopes the outcome will be worth the hassle. Shopowners like Linda Ashford, above, of Ashford Heirlooms, are working hard to keep their storefronts sparkling in the midst of the construction. Gary Walton, president of the Downtown Business Association, told the City Council earlier this year that “a lot of good things are happening downtown. Downtown is on the rise. People are seeing that downtown is improving; it’s moving forward.” He noted that 127 businesses are located downtown, with an estimated 685 employees, including 19 new businesses.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2019



Upcoming Events


• Saturday, October 19, 2019 Halloween Beer Crawl

• Sunday, November 3, 2019 Dia de los Muertos

• Saturday, December 7, 2019 Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting

• Saturday, February 8, 2020 A Bubbly & Chocolate Lovers’ Affair

• Friday, February 14, 2020 Gilroy Downtown is for Lovers!

• Saturday, April 4, 2020 Wine Stroll

• April 2020 National Garlic Month

• Saturday, April 25, 2020 South County Health Fair

• Saturday, May 16, 2020 Spring Craft & Vendor Fair

• Thursdays, June to August

Huge Selection of Bar Stools!

Downtown Live

• Saturday, September 12, 2020 PORCHFEST Gilroy

• Saturday, September 19, 2020 Fall Craft & Vendor Fair

• Saturday, October 17, 2020 Halloween Beer Crawl

• Saturday, December 5, 2020 Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting

Expandable Dining Sets, Amish Sets, Pub Tables Over 300 different Bar and Counter Stools on display..1000’s in stock

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Center gives compassion and shelter COMPASSION CENTER IS APTLY NAMED Jaqueline McCool Reporter

Nine years ago Jan Bernstein Chargin got involved with a group of concerned community members who wanted to help the people in Gilroy who didn’t have a home. Chargin was a facilitator for the South County Homeless task force when the group was approached by a businessman, Jim Currier, who offered to give his warehouse up as a shelter for the homeless rent-free for five years. In the midst of the recession the group could not find

an existing non-profit to get involved, so they formed their own and in May 2011 the Gilroy Compassion Center was born. Now the Compassion Center is the leading advocate for people who are homeless in the South County area. The nonprofit runs a series of programs throughout the South County and has turned the warehouse into a day center that offers food, clothing, bathrooms, personal hygiene supplies, shower and laundry, weekly medical visits, a women’s support group, and case management. This past year the center served as the gathering spot for volunteers on the county’s homeless census.

The report found the number of people who were homeless was on the rise throughout the county, however, the numbers stayed stagnant in Gilroy. For Chargin, this wasn’t a surprise. The group has made a significant impact on the people who are homeless throughout the South County and Chargin has been at the forefront of the work as a former board chair and acting executive director; now she serves as vice chair since December 2018. “Before the Compassion Center opened, we met with people who were homeless in Gilroy and asked them what they needed. One of the key answers that came back was that services were

too scattered—there was no single place to go to get all of the information and to find out what to do to get help,” Chargin told the Dispatch. Whether it’s a meeting of Valley Water or the Gilroy City Council, Chargin can be found making a statement to those on the dais—explaining how each decision will impact the people who are homeless in the area. “What is most gratifying is that many of our clients are no longer homeless. It is wonderful to run into formerly homeless people in the supermarket, or in the community, and see how their lives have changed,” said Chargin. “What is frustrating is that the process can take so long, and there just aren't enough

affordable housing units, or options for people with the lowest incomes.” Aside from the day center, the Compassion Center offers six other services: The Almost Home Camping program, Project Homeless Connect, Saturday Supper, Gilroy Compassion Center creek team, art classes, and a safe parking pilot program. As housing rates in California continue to rise and city after city deal with a lack of affordable housing options, Chargin had advice for citizens in those communities that are seeking ways to help people who are homeless. “Encourage concerned citizens to come together to do something,” said

Jan Bernstein Chargin Chargin. “There are so many needs, but by each one of us doing a small part we create change. I think every city should have a Day Center so that people can meet their basic needs and maintain their connection to the larger community during the time they are looking for housing.”

Alexander Station

An enchanting 51st season!

Cinderella Steel Magnolias Rock of Ages Cabaret Beauty and the Beast

Denee Lewis in

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike 2017

Barry Holtzclaw

The $95 million Alexander Station Apartments at the south end of Gilroy’s downtown began leasing in 2019, more than four months behind schedule and only half completed. The developers, the Pacific Company, began to lease nearly half of the one- to four-bedroom subsidized housing units at the 10th Street site, near Monterey Street. The five-story, 262-unit construction project’s southern half opened in the summer, with rents for qualifying applicants of between $1,000 and $2.000 per month. Alexander Station has a community room with a kitchen, a computer center, a playground, a pool, a gated entrance and energy-efficient appliances.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2019



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SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Gilroy Ostrich Farm celebrates BIG BIRDS, OTHER ANIMALS ON SITE Erik Chalhoub Magazine and Business Editor

Erik Chalhoub

The Gilroy Ostrich Farm, the only such farm dedicated to the world’s largest birds on the Central Coast, celebrated its grand opening in August. Dan Nelson, a Morgan Hillbased entrepreneur who has worked on projects in the South Valley and beyond, is the founder of the Gilroy Ostrich Farm, located on Pacheco Pass Highway near the intersection of San Felipe Road. He purchased the 114-acre property in 2018 to embark on a quest to bring the African native birds to not only the South Valley and San Benito communities, but to the state as a whole. The venue is not only new to the region—the two closest ostrich farms are in Los Angeles and Solvang—but for Nelson himself. “It’s a really new venture for me,” he said. “I’m spending a lot of time learning the behavior of ostriches.” Ostriches can grow to 9 feet tall and weigh more than 300 pounds. While they can’t fly, somehow they can run more than 40 mph. And the round, gangly, yet muscular bird can live for roughly 50 years. Nelson has a simple description for these unique-looking animals. “They’re beautiful birds,” he said. After a year of preparation, the farm has opened to much fanfare: Nelson said people have been visiting from all over the state to witness these gigantic birds in person. “People seem to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s been getting busy.”

STRETCH FOR FOOD Ostrich entrepreneur Dan Nelson tends

to his ostrich flock at Pacheco Pass farm. The farm is open Friday through Monday, 10am-5pm for self-guided tours, weather permitting. Guided tours for groups of 10 or more people are also available. Although its name may suggest otherwise, the Gilroy Ostrich Farm is not just ostriches. The property also houses alpacas, chickens, goats, sheep, rabbits and pot-bellied pigs. Nelson said the plan is to add miniature horses and cows in the near future. A completely remodeled barn

near the entrance to the farm serves as a farm stand, where guests can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as hollow ostrich eggs, which Nelson noted many people use for art projects. But the farm’s namesake is the star attraction. “When the kids come, they hang out here most of the time,” Nelson said as he stood in the middle of a number of ostrich pens neatly positioned across the property. “The ostriches are the feature.”

Signs posted next to the pens inform visitors about the different species of ostriches and their behaviors. Holes along the fences allow guests to feed the always-hungry birds themselves. While holding a pan of food toward the towering creatures can be intimidating to some, an ostrich’s “bite” is no worse than its bark, since it has no teeth. Unless threatened, all ostriches want to do is eat, not fight, Nelson said. Ostriches maintain a diet of

roots, leaves and seeds, as well as rocks, eating roughly four pounds of food a day. The Gilroy Ostrich Farm once had dozens of ostriches on the property, but now has 20, as the remainder was sold to other farms due to costs. “They are very expensive to maintain and feed,” he said. A hen can produce up to 50 eggs a year, which weigh about 5 pounds each. Those eggs are then shipped to an incubator in Los Angeles, Nelson said.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2019



Gilroy wrestlers build dynasty YEAR AFTER YEAR, MUSTANGS DOMINATE Emanuel Lee Sports Editor

File Photo

The Gilroy High wrestling dynasty shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. A year after a record-breaking performance in the Central Coast Section Championships, the Mustangs found a way to add further accolades to one of the section’s all-time great runs covering all sports. Gilroy had a record-breaking 12 finalists—including nine individual champions while amassing a meet record 377 points— in the 2019 CCS championships to win an unprecedented 17th consecutive section title. In the 2018-19 season, the Mustangs had one less individual winner but two more finalists and finished with a record 47 pins. The fleet of Gilroy title winners included Victor Jacinto at 126 pounds, Noah Castro at 132, Chase Saldate at 138, John Fox at 145, Daniel Vizcarra at 152, Nathan Villarreal at 160, Joe Barnes at 170, Ryan Reyes at 195, and Nick Villarreal at heavyweight. Gilroy also had an individual champion on the girls side, as Kelly Nebesnick won the crown at 150 pounds. The afore-mentioned group— along with runner-ups Donte Lopez, Dallas Gutierrez, Dezi Johnsen and Aphrodite Ayala and fourth-place finisher Divina Perez —advanced to the state tournament in Bakersfield. As a kid, Ryan Reyes often spent the first weekend in March watching the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. The Gilroy High senior was in attendance when his older

STATE CHAMP Ryan Reyes is overwhelmed with emotion after

winning 195-pound state championship. brother, Nikko, won the second of his two titles in 2012. So it wasn’t a surprise then when Ryan was overwhelmed with emotion after he won a state championship in the 195-pound division, accomplishing a goal he set out years ago. “We all had a goal of breaking previous records and setting new ones to give a good example for kids looking up at us and

who will be the next generation of Gilroy wrestlers,” said Joe Barnes, who validated himself as one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the program’s illustrious history by winning a fourth CCS title. “Basically, we were just doing what we were taught and been doing our whole lives.” Barnes, who won the 170pound title, has plenty to be

proud of considering he started the season slow due to injuries he incurred from football season. However, once Barnes’ body started to recover, he was able to go full bore into the team’s intense workouts and get in the superior wrestling shape the Gilroy wrestlers are known for. Barnes never ran into any trouble in the tournament, amassing five pins over five matches, putting

an exclamation point on a fourth section championship. Nathan Villarreal followed in some footsteps as well, while also making a trail of his own. His older brother, Nico, was also a four-time CCS champ and is now a senior wrestling at Arizona State. Nathan captured his second consecutive CCS title in dominating fashion, winning all five of his matches via pinfall.




SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

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