Old age, an earthquake and migrating merchants have hurt the Tapo Street business district in recent years, but $100,000 in grant money for building renovations should help the healing get underway.
The City Council voted late Monday to release up to $20,000 per business from the Community Development Agency’s coffers for businesses along the quarter-mile stretch of road near Cochran Street. The funds will match whatever amounts the businesses are willing to put in to the work.
“There has been much new reinvestment in recent years,” said Don Penman, assistant city manager.
Officials will advertise the grant program shortly and awards will be announced by early fall.
The council’s unanimous vote marked its latest step in improving what is one of the city’s oldest commercial areas--dating back a decade before Simi Valley’s 1969 incorporation.
“It used to be a more heavily trafficked area,” Penman said. “But as the city grew and new retail migrated to other areas, including areas closer to the  Freeway, this area declined.”
The city deemed Tapo Street in need of redevelopment in 1993--the year before the Northridge earthquake destroyed the Pic ‘N’ Save and Sears Outlet stores, magnifying the district’s decline.
The city’s consultant, RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo, envisions a large shopping center as the backbone of the revitalization, to be located on the site of the two demolished businesses.
RRM’s plans contain a plethora of ideas for new construction, including walkways and plazas, consolidation of numerous properties, designing of driveways and parking lots in a way that improves the flow of traffic, landscaping and buildings that blend with the area’s architectural nature, and construction of buildings closer to the street, with parking in back.
RRM is also encouraging the construction of climate-control outdoor spaces with shady and open areas as well as outdoor cafes, fountains and major landscaping.