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November 26, 2020

Watsonville City Council to decide Porter Building’s fate

WATSONVILLE—An art studio and performance center for Pajaro Valley Arts, or an Italian restaurant, boutique hotel and creative office space for the Pajaronian

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The Watsonville City Council is expected to decide the fate of the historic Porter Building during the closed session of its virtual meeting on Tuesday.

PV Arts and WatsNews LLC, a company established by Santa Cruz Good Times owner Dan Pulcrano in 2019 after he purchased the 152-year-old Pajaronian, are vying for control of the vacant two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, which has stood at the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue since 1903.

The closed session is scheduled for 3:30pm. The public is not allowed to attend the closed session portion of public meetings—public bodies hold these sessions to discuss private matters such as lawsuits and the purchase or lease of real property—but they can comment on agenda items before the session begins.

People can participate in the meeting on Zoom or by phone by calling 1-669-900-9128 and entering access code 927-0660-9937.

The public can also submit written comments through the City’s Council Meeting portal by e-Comment or by emailing [email protected]. All comments will be part of the meeting record. Emails received two hours before the meeting will not be uploaded to the agenda, and may not be seen by the council or staff.

The local institutions presented their respective plans at the Oct. 27 council meeting.

PV Arts, a nonprofit established in 1984, hopes to create a center for artists with gallery exhibits, art retail space and a multipurpose room for performances, meetings, events, workshops and additional special exhibits. The organization would also create several classrooms for seniors and young people and artists’ studios.

WatsNews LLC is proposing a casual dining Italian restaurant from well-known restaurateur Joe Cirone, emphasizing locally-sourced ingredients, and a wine bar and food market highlighting Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards, Pajaro Valley farms and artisanal producers. The project also calls for a “boutique” micro-hotel and a “creative space” that will serve as an office for the Pajaronian where the newspaper hopes to mold the next generation of journalists through internship programs.

About three dozen people spoke at the meeting, the majority of whom voiced support for PV Arts’ plan. Some in attendance said the Pajaronian’s plan “raised some red flags” about gentrification because of the language Pulcrano and Cirone used during their presentation—words such as “strategic,” “catalyst” and “economic generator” caused concern, as did phrases such as “the new Watsonville.”

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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