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(Think Shangri-La, GTI Fitness, Sherwood Florist, Runway Salon, and Brahma Bar and Grill)

by: Patricia Cole

Please tell us about your project: Corcos purchased the wedge-shaped lot at Old Winding Way and Winding Way in the Village in 2016. He moved to Sacramento in 1981, and his experience in restaurants, advertising, and politics combined with his determination to help revitalize the Village served him well as he navigated a daunting and confusing combination of regulatory agencies. Corcos says he could have earned a Master’s Degree in project management with what he learned about commercial property renovation by the time tenants moved into Corcos Square and opened for business three and a half years later.

What made you decide to live in Fair Oaks? Corcos says he moved to Fair Oaks by accident. He and his wife, who owns Evangeline’s in Old Sacramento, lived in the little Pocket area in Sacramento until 1995. They began looking for a better school district when their children got into 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade and made an offer on a house in Davis. That’s when a friend suggested he look at Fair Oaks. Corcos hadn’t seen the Village and envisioned a suburban mall-like Loehman’s Plaza. He remembers that when he went to look at Fair Oaks, he got lost looking for the Village. The neighborhoods he wound up in reminded him of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and he and his family moved here in 1995.

What made you decide to invest in the Village? For 20+ years after he moved to Fair Oaks, as Corcos drove through the Village, he couldn’t understand why something as charming as the Village could be so dead. In 2005/2006, he hosted a property owner’s meeting to create a vision for the Village. Corcos pictured the Village’s return to its 1970s arts theme when there was a prominent artist community. The two people who showed up at his meeting were not interested in creating a unified look for the Village. Many property owners resist investing in tenant improvements at a scale that promises a move towards a more prosperous Village while retaining its uniqueness and charm. After that meeting, Corcos made a vow that if something became available that looked interesting, he would buy it and take his first run at trying to revitalize the Village.

Corcos navigated the seemingly endless and often inconsistent requirements of agencies like Sacramento County Planning, the Fire Department, utilities, and others. For example, Fair Oaks has a special planning area for the commercial district and a neighborhood planning area for residential, yet the County staff he dealt with didn’t know about them or their requirements. Part of the process included educating staff about their programs.

He admits he was naïve, as many newcomers doing business in the Village can be. For example, he had to spend $300,000 to get power to the property. Three months before starting his project, SMUD issued a rule that businesses could not serve more than 400 amps of power for tenants using overhead lines. He needed 2000 amps and had to trench from the street to the back of the property to go underground. The nightmare of red tape and bureaucracy slowed him down, but Corcos says his is a labor of love and a gamble, but it’s going well, and he’s grateful he has fantastic tenants.

What about plans for the space upstairs from Brahma? Corcos says it was going to be a wine bar, an idea many people support, but problems with everything from the Alcohol and Beverage Control Agency and disability requirements got in the way. Now Brahma Restaurant and Grill uses the space for offices and storage. The last thing Corcos says he needs is for his tenants to stress out over another nighttime business that takes up parking places.

What Would You Like to See Next? Some people don’t want change. They want their sleepy little town but sleepy little towns to stay sleepy. Smaller businesses and a younger demographic want to help the Village thrive and talk about bringing events to Fair Oaks that would attract more visitors. As ownerships of Village businesses shift and change, new possibilities will open up.

As a FOVEC member, Corcos says Fair Oaks Village needs a business owner’s guide for new businesses that want to open in the Village, saving them money and months of effort. It makes sense to benefit from others who worked to bring prosperity to Fair Oaks Village in a new way that respects its charm and history.

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