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07.29.09

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The Breakdown:

"Midtown Santa Cruz"--a marketing campaign whose time hasn't come.

By Traci Hukill


We've heard enough longtime locals sneer at the newish term "midtown"--most commonly used to describe the section of Soquel Avenue between Shoppers Corner and the Rio Theatre--to make us wonder where it came from and who uses it. Bill Tysseling, executive director of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, doesn't. But the guy who answered the phone at the Bagelry does. In fact, he says he's been using the term for five or six years. And he lives in the neighborhood. So there.

The term, unsurprisingly, has its genesis in a series of marketing meetings business owners from the district held with redevelopment officials a few years ago. Like Tysseling, city officials call that area the "Eastside," which some of the shopkeepers thought sounded too much like Pleasure Point. In a quest to brand their area and differentiate it from the Portola neighborhood, someone suggested "Midtown." A vote was held, and now some businesses use it. Most, however, don't. Santa Cruz native Alan Kirkman, owner of Element Home Furnishings, prefers to call the area simply "Soquel Avenue," the term he remembers from his childhood. After all, the thinking seems to go, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. "You wouldn't change Downtown Santa Cruz to some other name," he points out.


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