Public Buildings and Infrastructure

The Agency has completed rebuilt or repaired miles of roadways, sidewalks and storm drains throughout the project areas. In particular, downtown has seen a substantial facelift as Bob Hart Plaza, new benches and streetlights were all installed by the Redevelopment Agency. In addition to these projects the Agency has constructed numerous public buildings including the Merced Center, Parcade, Senior Center, Youth Center, Transportation Center, Multi Cultural Arts Center, and the Central Fire Station. Some of these projects are shown below. 

Merced Center Parking Garage

As the largest project the Redevelopment Agency has ever developed, the Merced Center includes a three deck, 330 space parking structure with 10,000 square feet of retail space.  The $10 million garage was quite an undertaking with many years of purchasing, planning and eventually construction.  The Merced Center Parking Garage currently serves the Merced College Business Resource Center and West America Bank with ample parking.  In addition, the proposed Gaia Hotel will also utilize the parking developed on the site.

                               Room Cleared for Merced Center Site        

                                        Merced Center Garage, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. Way Beautification Project

Completed in 2007, this "gateway" project included the complete reconstruction of Martin Luther King Way between 14th Street and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.  In addition to the road reconstruction, a new signal was installed at the intersection of 15th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  The roadway was in need of major repair so the Agency contracted to demolish and reconstruct the existing roadway, reconfigure the storm water drainage system, realign water services, rebuild sidewalks and add Sternberg streetlights.  Improvements to the median gave the Agency an opportunity include landscaping in the design. 

                            Martin Luther King Way Prior to Improvements

Bob Hart Square and Main Street Beautification, 1978 to 2004

The first major project of the Merced Redevelopment Agency was the beautification of Main Street from “N” Street to King Way, and Canal Street from Main to 18th Street. Previously, this area had little in the way of landscaping or trees.

The Agency conducted design sessions to determine what Main and Canal Streets should look like. The project itself took over a year to construct. It included total reconstruction of the streets and sidewalks, addition of brick accents, midblock pedestrian crossings, planting of trees and landscape areas, and benches.  Following the project, downtown Merced had become a much more pedestrian friendly environment. This livability was recognized in 1996 with a “Livable Cities” Award from the California Local Government Commission, which was given for the quality of the environment created in large part by this project.

 In 2001, the rest of Main Street from G to Martin Luther King, and N to R Streets, was reconstructed. In 2004, the City’s center was refurbished with new lighting and furniture.


One of Redevelopment’s earliest projects was the creation of a central focal point for downtown. This was accomplished by closing a half-block of Canal Street, demolishing an old building on the corner of Main and Canal, and creating the opportunity for a public park and a new building. 
Bob Hart Square Park was completed as the first step in this project, and has created a place for public gatherings and celebrations downtown. The accompanying Bob Hart Square building was built in 1980.

                                        Bob Hart Square

For many years, the City of Merced’s Central Fire Station needed replacement. The old station, located with the old City Hall at the corner of M and 18th, was deteriorating and undersized. Worse, its location made it difficult to get fire trucks in and out to fires and other emergency calls.

The Fire Department conducted a study to determine the best location for a new station, and concluded that 16th Street, just east of “G”, would work well.

The Redevelopment Agency began purchasing the land for the new station in 1989. The final parcels were bought in 1991, when the Agency bought a terribly deteriorated trailer park from its owner. The trailer park was characterized by the worst housing conditions in Merced at the time.

The new station opened in September 1997. It provides space for central fire protection serves, and the headquarters of the Fire Department.




Shannon Parcade, 1995

The Shannon Parcade was constructed in 1995 at the corner of 18th and M Streets in downtown Merced. The Parcade provides public parking to support other downtown businesses and projects. The Parcade has 177 parking spaces in 3 decks. Its design drew upon visits to other parking structures in other cities, from which the best design features were selected. The Parcade has two long-term lease tenants. The Parcade was designed with ground floor-commercial space in order to create street front activity for the downtown and to generate revenue to operate the parking structure.

Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 1995

The Merced Multicultural Arts Center, located at 645 West Main Street in downtown Merced, is a partnership of the Redevelopment Agency, the City of Merced, and the Merced County Arts Council, Inc. The building includes a studio theater to accommodate many kinds of live performances; classrooms for arts education and dance; five galleries with rotating exhibits of visual arts; and even a darkroom for photography education. The Center is owned by the City, but is operated without cost to the City because of a 10-year agreement with the Merced County Arts Council. Under the agreement, the Arts Council operates programs in the Arts Center. To create the Arts Center, the Agency renovated a previously derelict commercial building which had once been a Montgomery Ward department store. Even before it opened, the Arts Center had won a design award from the Sierra-Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Center was also honored with a Helen Putnam Award (Grand Prize in Arts and Culture) from the League of California Cities in the year 2000. Financing for building the Center was a unique combination of private gifts and Redevelopment Agency funds. Over $2.1 million for the project came from the Goldman Fund, a private bequest held in trust by the City for the purpose of constructing an arts center or similar facility. About $750,000 came from the Redevelopment Agency.


McCombs Youth Center, 2001

Situated on the corner of “M” Street and 15th Street, the stunning McCombs Youth Center is one of the Redevelopment Agency’s most admirable projects. The 18,000 sq. ft. center includes a full sized indoor basketball court, a large game and activities room, a multimedia area, an academic center equipped with computers, and three age specific activity rooms. The entire center is operated daily by the Boys and Girls Club of Merced County at no cost to the taxpayers of Merced. The location ensures access to the facility from the Central and South Merced residents, the most economically disadvantaged population. A community-driven design process was used, with eight community workshops for the public to contribute their ideas for the project. Many of the key design ideas surfaced during these workshops, which included the input and participation of the Center’s future users: over 1000 middle and high school students. The Agency pulled together numerous funding sources in order to complete this $3 million project. As a result of this tremendous effort, the Agency received the 2004 Helen Putnam Award from the League of California Cities, and the Special Citation Award from the California Redevelopment Association in early 2005.

Merced Senior & Community Center, 1991 and 1999

The Merced Senior & Community Center was built by the Merced Redevelopment Agency using tax increment funding and private contributions. The Center is a meeting place for senior citizen groups, community gatherings and social events. Open to the whole community, it provides a large meeting hall, excellent sound system, and support facilities including a commercial kitchen. The project started in 1991 with planning and design. The Merced Senior Citizens, Inc. board of directors acted as a planning group to meet with the project architect. About $300,000 in private donations helped in the project cost, which totaled about $2.7 million, including land. The site was formerly owned by Southern Pacific Railroad, and was used as a storage yard. The creation of the Senior Center led to the later development of the Sierra Meadows senior housing project across the street between 14th and 15th. A second phase was added to the Senior Center in 1999, completing the project.