Proposed outdoor shopping center could help Westminster restart its economy

Westminster’s Little Saigon neighborhood could soon host a new initiative that officials hope will lead the city to an economic rebound.

The city wants to turn part of the area into an open-air shopping and dining hub that could help struggling local businesses increase sales. Stores and restaurants could use the space on a rotating basis.

Such an initiative could help businesses survive the current COVID-19 pandemic by reaching new markets, boosting sales and providing a safe outdoor space, the report says.

“While everyone is hopeful that ongoing safety practices, such as social distancing and masks, combined with vaccine distribution will help the community return to ‘normalcy’, recovery is likely to be slow and available funds are still insufficient to directly support all businesses and residents, « he added. The agenda item for February 24 says.

“With this information and direction received from the city council, the staff has been working towards the conceptual development of an outdoor plaza with pergolas and / or canopies for retail spaces, modular kitchen units parked on site and a number of tables and chairs for dining or relaxing.

The idea was originally presented by Councilwoman Kimberly Ho during a council meeting on January 24. The Council approved city staff to investigate the issue and seek a financial settlement with Orange County, which would provide approximately $ 500,000 for the project.

If the council decides to move forward, officials will continue to work to draft a financial agreement with the county, the report says.

The council aims to make the space feel semi-permanent and last about six months, depending on funding. Spaces can be filled through a lottery depending on the popularity of local businesses, although there will always be a variety of booth offers to ensure an engaging consumer experience.

“While security measures must be implemented, the goal of the program is to promote local businesses, therefore the project must capitalize on the existing business community, while also having a level of distinction to make it special, something that people will search regularly. ‘ the agenda noted.

While the idea of ​​having a modular kitchen is new, other cities in the county have had similar ideas. The city of Laguna Beach closed a public street to help al fresco dining and other small businesses, and Huntington Beach closed part of Main Street for similar reasons.

The Westminster city council will vote on where to locate during its next meeting on Feb. 24, although the agenda notes that Little Saigon may be the best opportunity due to its high level of business density in the city.

Currently, city staff are recommending a part of Little Saigon where a building suffered a fire and the property owner is expected to demolish it. According to the schedule, the area would provide 14,000 square feet and has easy access to water and sewer connections.