Old Town Newhall – A Look Back At the Last Two Decades

The bustling arts and entertainment district of Old Town Newhall that we know today has transformed many times over the years. Take a look at this excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article from 1998 – Hope for Newhall’s Rebirth Rides on New Train Station. (Los Angeles Times September 18, 1998 http://articles.latimes.com/1998/sep/18/local/me-23925)

“Tracing its roots back to the 1880s, when it was an oil boomtown, downtown Newhall, or “Old Newhall,” was for many years the center of economic activity in the Santa Clarita Valley. During the 1940s and ’50s, the area’s main thoroughfare–then Spruce Street, now San Fernando Road–was a bustling shopping district.

In recent years though, the area has become a less attractive destination. Incomes in the immediate neighborhood are now the lowest in town and commercial developments elsewhere in Santa Clarita have siphoned customers away.

Rising crime, gang activity, overcrowding in nearby apartments and even a lack of sidewalks and gutters have contributed to the area’s decline. Many of Newhall’s single-story storefronts are worn and few people walk the streets on a typical weekday afternoon.”

The City had a vision of revitalization, and the City Council exercised the leadership and fortitude to see it through. The transformation from 1998 to 2018 has been remarkable. This previous major thoroughfare has been transformed into an enchanting pedestrian friendly environment; the old cracked sidewalks have been upgraded and now pay homage to our community’s rich western heritage with beautiful brick and wood slat details, and our prized Walk of the Western Stars; and the facades of many of the local shops and restaurants have been refreshed while maintaining their historic charm.

Thanks to City support, and a strong partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff, Old Town Newhall is once again a safe place to explore and enjoy…and there is so much to enjoy! The beautiful Old Town Newhall library plays hosts to readers of all levels and offers highly attended events and workshops. Take a walk down Main Street and you will see the amazing progress made on our Old Town Newhall parking garage and check out the space which will soon be home to the Laemmle Theatre and Newhall Crossings projects, which for the first time will bring residents to live on Main Street. The businesses on Main Street are some of the most charming and unique businesses in our community. For those who love to window shop (or buy a treasure) – there are many boutiques offering the latest trends in fashion and home goods. Hungry or thirsty? A wide range of delicious and diverse foods are served up at dozens of new and neighborhood favorite restaurants. For those looking to sip a new wine or try out a new craft beer – tasting rooms and breweries are pouring up and down Main Street.

One of the most exciting things taking place amongst all these great dining, sipping and shopping opportunities is the establishment of the area as the premier arts and entertainment district in Santa Clarita. Just up the street from the always popular Canyon Theatre Guild is the newly renamed theatre, The MAIN. Previously known as the Repertory East – the now City-run theatre has become the must-visit spot in town, thanks to the robust programming of Thursdays @ Newhall and the rotating art galleries in the theatre lobby.

The most anticipated project in the area is the Laemmle Theatre, which will start showing films in Summer 2019. This family-owned business is bringing seven screens, approximately 500 seats and a variety of films to Old Town Newhall. Think quality independent, foreign and art house cinema!

With all this excitement on the horizon, an influx of locals and visitors to Old Town Newhall is expected. To accommodate these visitors the Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Station provides easy access from the valley and other areas of our City. The new City-owned parking structure will have spaces for an additional 372 cars, plus will offer the best views in town from the top-deck event space.

Parking in the area has been, and will continue to be a bit of a puzzle. Since the plots were developed back in the day under old code, most if not all of the lots can’t accommodate the on-site parking requirements that you would find in other areas of the City.  Instilling traditional parking requirements in this unique area of our community would essentially halt new businesses from coming in and any new development to occur. The space just simply isn’t there.

To ensure that Old Town Newhall is ready to accommodate the number of people who are sure to want to visit…the City council recently approved a Parking In Lieu program that would require new and expanding businesses to pay for the cost of creating additional parking. Although the new parking garage will be able to handle the guests coming to the area to enjoy the amenities already there, plus the addition of Laemmle Theatre and Newhall Crossings, the City is taking proactive measures to avoid future parking problems. That is why the decision was made to assess only new developments/additional square footage with the parking in lieu fee.

The success of Old Town Newhall is evident by the vast private investment in the area. The City of Santa Clarita understands and is committed to the public/private partnership. Handling parking needs was always envisioned to be a public/private partnership, since the adoption of the Old Town Newhall Specific plan in 2005.

Old Town Newhall has undergone a complete metamorphosis from where it was 20 years ago. It is once again an exciting place to visit, shop, explore, dine and to be entertained. We’ll see you on Main Street.

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