Nathan Ulsh, the new executive director for the Franklin Boulevard Business Association and the Historic Monterey Trail District, moved to Sacramento from Portland, Oregon two years ago when his wife, Sandra Ulsh-Cervantes, landed a top job with Univision, the Spanish Television Network. After working two years as deputy director of the Mack Road Partnership, Ulsh was asked to bring his economic development and marketing skills to lead a business renaissance along Franklin Boulevard. Here’s what he had to say to the Viewpoint.
Tell us about the scope of your new role?
I’m lucky to have three interns, and we are focused on promoting and marketing the area’s culturally diverse businesses. The District stretches from Broadway to Florin Road and includes 600 businesses and 160 property owners. We want our neighbors in Curtis Park and Hollywood Park to feel comfortable and safe shopping along the boulevard.
How do you plan to attract neighbors to the district?
We have a Clean and Safe Team that is sprucing up the district, and we are networking with businesses to develop marketing programs that will appeal to neighbors. The Board recently adopted a Community and Economic Development Strategic Plan. About a year ago, we received a $435,000 grant from SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) to improve the streetscape on Franklin Boulevard.
The long term goals are to slow down traffic by reducing the boulevard from four to two lanes, adding trees to a street median, creating bike lanes and establishing pocket parks. All these amenities will make the district more attractive to neighbors.
When will that happen?
It will take some time. The first phase includes traffic analysis, environmental studies, and lots of community outreach. Once a plan is developed, we will go after funding for the amenities. It will probably be another two years before the streetscape of the district significantly changes.
What’s special about the district now?
There is a rich culture here. Come visit some of the excellent ethnic restaurants and little shops. You can practice your Spanish at most businesses, try German sausages at Morants, buy hard to find plumbing parts at Reds, and drink awesome beer at Fountainhead, Track 7, Twin Rivers and Pangaea’s.
For the future, I’d like to see a Mercado, where businesses can sell fruits, vegetables and other products. Maybe a Beer Crawl through the district, or a bicycle tour of ethnic restaurants.
Why are we seeing street banners that say, “The Historic Monterey Trail District?”
That’s our branding effort to create a public image for the District. Many don’t know that Franklin Boulevard once connected Sutter’s Fort to the city of Monterey. We want to take advantage of that history and encourage neighbors to “Shop the Trail.”
By Rosanna Herber
Viewpoint staff writer