It may be difficult to imagine Stanton as having a downtown area, but it once did. And, all goes according to plan, it could again.
Long before Beach Boulevard was anything but a two-lane road connecting Buena Park and Anaheim to Orange County’s shores, the central business district of the small community of Stanton was collected in the general area of Main Street along Beach between Pacific Street and Cerritos Avenue.
The coming of urban sprawl widened Beach and pushed commercial activity to other parts of the community, but Main Street as a center of Stanton may eventually come back into style.
The proposed Town Center plan, which calls for a mixed-use concept in the area generally north and east of the current Stanton Civic Center area, has been approved by the city’s planning commission, and is expected to come before the city council on May 22.
“It started when the Orange County Transit Authority made some grant money available to study how to reduce traffic congestion,” said Omar Dadabhoy, Stanton’s community development director.
The old Pacific Electric right-of-way cuts through the heart of the area, and revived interest in using that route for a light rail system – with a station on Beach Boulevard – has been a big part of the inspiration for this concept, which focuses on transit and pedestrian mobility.
“But even if the light rail line never goes through,” said Dadabhoy, “the plan is still viable.”
The area covered includes nearly 95 acres. The plan creates three districts – Pacific, Commerce and Flower, with two sub-districts. One of those is Main Street, which runs two blocks west of Beach and four blocks east. The vision for that now-sleepy thoroughfare is mixed-use urban living – shops and restaurants and homes – to create a walkable community, what’s called “a pedestrian scale.”
There’s no plan to pump public money into the area to lure development. Instead, the Town Center plan would change zoning and land-use rules to entice the kind of growth the city is hoping to see.
“We tried not to be too restrictive and specific as to what we required,” Dadabhoy said of the plan. The city, he said, wanted to state generally what was wanted, but not to stifle creativity.
A stroll down Main Street reveals some of the challenges and potential of the area. Right now, it’s a mélange of stores, industrial uses, auto parts stores, single family homes and apartments. Not far from a small factory, the street takes on a rural feel with the sound of roosters crowing. No one is going to confuse this with the Third Street Promenade or Hollywood and Vine.
On the other hand, the street is wide with generally broad sidewalks and straddles one of Orange County’s busiest routes. Time will tell if history repeats itself and – train or no train — Main Street again becomes a main street for Stanton.