By Per Peterson
From the outside, it still looks like the old bank. Or, in a more contemporary light, the former Multi-Purpose Center.
But step inside the two-story building at the corner of 3rd and Morgan, and there are few reminders of either of those entities.
That’s because Pete Beerman has been working tirelessly to transform one of the last remaining truly iconic downtown Tracy buildings into a new coffee house/cafe called the Plaid Moose, which he hopes to open sometime in July.
While construction continues at a steady pace, Beerman, who closed on the building in December 2020, knows his new venture carries some unintended baggage.
“I think there probably are a few people who see me as a bad guy … I think they see me as an opportunist,” Beerman said in an interview last week inside his building. “I understand that, but I also am trying to build a legacy for my family and a legacy for my business. But I told the City guys, ‘I just want to make sure that you have a plan for your seniors.’”
Beerman believes that the people he worked with — Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen and Community Development Director Jeff Carpenter are committed to finding a new home for the seniors, wherever that might be.
“They really do care about offering something of excellence for the seniors moving forward,” Beerman said. “I just think that maybe they didn’t think about all the blindspots that were there once they made the decision to sell to us. I think that kind of caught them off guard.”
Beerman said he understands the reaction the City has received from the senior community, since during the time the sale was being worked out, they weren’t even able to meet because of the pandemic.
“They are already losing their friends because of age anyway, and now they’re told they’re the most vulnerable group in the country, they shouldn’t go out anywhere … that’s the generation that taught us how to do life together,” Beerman said. “They really felt ownership of the building, and then they got all that taken in the middle of a time when they couldn’t do anything about it.
Beerman said he will do his best to honor the senior center history by keeping the Plaid Moose full of life and energy and making it a place where all are welcome.
“We want to offer an extra space and say, ‘Hey, this place is still open for you if you want to come in,’” he said. “They can still meet here and hang out together. We want to make this a really cool space for the whole community, while still honoring the history of it, whether it be the bank or the senior center. We’re going to honor the space.”
Hansen calls the Plaid Moose an “anchor tenant” in the downtown area and said it’s the kind of thing a small-town downtown needs to generate more traffic. He said it’s a big part of the City’s focus on bringing more to the downtown area.
“The more you have, the more you’re going to get,” he said. “Between this happening, the new infrastructure and the sidewalks that were put in downtown, the additional study on the historical buildings downtown, renewed energy on the old Hollywood building — we’re really trying to put a focus on what’s happening downtown. There’s a lot going on.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.