New York City has Soho and The Village; Los Angeles has Westwood; New Orleans is famous for its French Quarter; and San Francisco has its Marina District.
Sections of communities renowned for their own distinctive look and flair, and which contribute to the overall ambience of the cities in which they are located. And now, Fullerton will join that roster with its own special area - the SOCO District.
The SOCO (South of Commonwealth) District is that area of businesses, eateries and lounges that are on Santa Fe Avenue, both east and west of Harbor Boulevard. Anchored by the Fullerton Transportation Center on the east and Heroes restaurant on the west, the area is the focus of plans designed to extend the City's successful economic revitalization underway in the Downtown. The plans also include those businesses on Commonwealth who back up to the alley separating them from the businesses on Santa Fe.
The Agency's SOCO plan is already attracting attention, earning discussion in the November 2003 issue of "Planning Magazine," a national publication of the American Planning Association.
The article, by Al Zelinka and Wendy Beattie of RBF Consulting's Urban Design Studio of Irvine, the design group that prepared the conceptual SOCO plans, notes alleys in SOCO were designed to "accommodate the utilitarian needs of the adjacent businesses while also fostering a festive atmosphere for pedestrians through decorative paving, signs, gateway elements, landscaping, and an array of lighting elements."
Urban Design Studios is now at work on preparing the construction drawings in behalf of the Redevelopment Agency, which will fund the project.
The SOCO project is expected to cost $1.7 million and is scheduled to begin construction in 2004 after the Southern California Edison Co. has placed the electrical and telephone utilities underground. Fullerton Senior Civil Engineer Yelena Voronel said the alley improvements "will include a small plaza accented by sidewalk cafes, benches and shade trees, with a goal of creating a pedestrian friendly area for downtown visitors."
Even without the alley and plaza improvements, the SOCO District has become an important catalyst for the revitalization of Fullerton's historic downtown. In addition to Heroes, "residents' of SOCO include The Continental Lounge, Steamers Cafe, Table Ten, Carpe Diem Experience, Capri Shoes, and Leslie Trasport Interiors.
Opening in Summer 2004 will be Roscoe's Famous Deli at 116 W. Commonwealth Ave. According to Roscoe's owner, Jack Franklyn, who also owns and operates Heroes, "Roscoe's will feature a fun family experience complete with outdoor dining and lunches and dinners seven days a week."
Further information about SOCO District plans may be obtained by calling the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency at (714) 738-6877.