Monday, January 3, 2011

Some signs of economic growth for Vallejo area

Some signs of economic growth for area

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen/Times-Herald

Posted: 12/27/2010 01:00:33 AM PST

Some signs of new economic life were evident in 2010, as Vallejo sought to pull itself out of bankruptcy and the national recession.

And unlike during the worst of the recession, 2010 saw several new businesses open here -- the largest likely being Lowe's home improvement store on Columbus Parkway -- and other projects get under way.

Steps also were taken this year that promise further improvements in coming months.

An agreement was reached to allow Allied Defense Recycling, doing business as California Dry Dock Solutions, to dismantle some mothball fleet ships on Mare Island and an exclusive right to negotiate was entered into with Mare Island Studios for a possible film studio on the island's north end.

Discount supermarket Winco is doing an environmental review in advance of possibly opening a store where the Redwood Parkway Elks Lodge now stands.

Also, officials of mini-supermarket Fresh and Easy bought land on Springs Road this year and plan to build a store there in 2011.

The company also may build another store elsewhere in town, city and company officials have said.

It was not all good news, however.

Record high unemployment -- reaching more than 14 percent -- plagued the Vallejo area for much of the year, and several businesses moved away or closed.

The housing market gave signs of a possible recovery, as median prices and housing starts increased and affordability declined slightly during the year. Though the most recent figures show price declines, some real estate experts say this may reflect a typical seasonal industry slowdown, while others suggest an ongoing depressed market.

Hollywood Video closed all its stores this year, including Vallejo's, leaving Vallejo's Meadows Video the last such company in town. Meadows'

owner credits diversifying her store's offerings for helping it weather the recession and the video rental industry changes that contributed to Blockbuster Video's demise in Vallejo in late 2009.

But despite all that, in April, Vallejo ranked 199th in Forbes Magazine's list of top 200 places to do business nationally.

"There's a lot going on in Vallejo, and I don't think people realize that,"

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce spokesman Rich Curtola said. "As I go around town, I see these stores are full of people spending money, and as bad as the economy is, these are signs of a rejuvenation coming."

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or