The apartment will sit above a brand new women's boutique in bustling downtown Visalia. Sketches show awnings and newly installed scenic windows. The Togni-Branch store used this building downtown for 60 years, selling stationary and office supplies. The Sciaccaes say the historic building could provide a glimpse into Visalia's future.
Sam Sciacca says, "What we want to do is make the building as unique as possible. Do a face lift and make it individual so when you walk down Main Street you'll see this building that will strike your eye and not just be similar to everything else adjacent to it."
The refurbished building fits into the city's plans to develop East downtown into mixed residential and commercial use. City councilmember, Don Landers, says, "It'll put people downtown. It'll create the synergy for more activity, more shopping and hopefully, at some point in time, we'll reach a critical mass where the businesses will be staying open later at night."
While some of the second floors in Visalia's downtown buildings hold offices, many sit empty or are used for storage. The Sciaccaes hope their plans to create living space upstairs will influence other store owners to do the same. Sam Sciacca, says, "You talk about living upstairs on Main Street but no one's really done it. The retro fit is probably going to be difficult and it's a long process but I see a future for all of downtown Visalia on Main Street."
Right now there is no residential zoning downtown so the Sciaccaes would have to apply for a special permit to put an apartment there. On Wednesday, the city will review the project and make any recommendations they feel are necessary.