Downtown Merced

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Through the years, Downtown Merced has become the center of entertainment and dining for people throughout the region.  Downtown is Merced’s most diverse social and economic center and will continue to play a dominant role in cultural, civic,   finance and government activity.  Downtown will become a stronger center for  business, education, housing and local and regional retail.  The Downtown Strategy has emphasized downtown as a place for specialty retailing, entertainment, and  dining.  Merced’s downtown serves a regional market of over 200,000.  Located in the heart of the City, it stands at the crossroads of three state highways and is the home to several year-round events.

As the vibrant cultural
and historic center for   residents and visitors, Downtown is the destination for fine dining, shopping, nightlife and the arts, creating a welcoming place to live, work and visit.   Merced’s multicultural diversity is most apparent downtown and provides a  variety of interests and experiences.  Downtown Merced’s historic character and unique blend of old and new architecture creates a friendly,  welcoming place to live, work, shop, dine, visit and celebrate.
The Redevelopment Agency has spearheaded the revitalization of the City Center.  Entertainment venues, restaurants, housing and public improvements give Downtown an ambiance unique to the Merced area.  Please see the photos below for a view of downtown Merced.

Downtown Entertainment

Bob Hart Square Improvements

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 often plays host to live music events, public gatherings and serves a quintessential dining location for downtown.

Main Street Beautification and Refurbishment

Main Street has been largely improved with street lighting, brick pavers, landscaping, angle parking, bicycle racks, and much more for over a decade.  The goal of these Redevelopment projects was to give an ambiance and feel to the largely pedestrian oriented core.  These improvements have become the standard design of all public improvements within the Central City.  The improvements will eventually spread north and south of Main Street as infill residential and commercial projects revitalize these areas.

Public Art

The Redevelopment Agency plays an active role in introducing and supporting public art into the Downtown area.  Many Downtown businesses have partnered with the Agency to provide high quality pieces of work that are placed on the sides of buildings and along public frontages.

Downtown Parking

The City of Merced administers the Downtown Parking District Fund.  This fund is supported by businesses and property owners that pay into a fund that is used for lot maintenance, new lighting projects and repaving.  Downtown Merced has over a combined 1,000 on-street and off-street parking stalls that are free for public use.  Access to downtown shops, restaurants, civic intuitions and banks is a breeze in downtown Merced.

                                   East Main Parking Lot Repair, 2009

Downtown, its where the heart is!  It is also where people go to have a good time, watch a blockbuster movie, shop and dine.  The focal point of the Downtown entertainment area is the Mainplace Cinema.  This main movie house was completed in 2001 with the retail storefronts completed in 2003.  In addition to the Mainplace Cinema, the Merced Multicultural Arts Center and Playhouse Merced bring the fine arts including stage plays and exquisite arts to the downtown core.  The Merced Theatre project, expected to be completed in late 2010, will greatly add to the entertainment draw and ambiance already existing in the downtown area.