Things are looking up for old-fashioned business along Old Middlefield Way in Mountain View. Or are they?
For years, I have driven the stretch of road between San Antonio and the on-ramp to 101 South with an eye towards wonderment. The way you wander through an older part of town and wonder how these businesses manage to keep the rents paid and maintain a steady flow of customers. Old Middlefield is a 35 MPH zone I believe, so you’d be in your car mindful of stop lights and could turn into a business or vacant parking lot at the last minute in plenty of time. Here there are typical light industrial buildings, not drawing ‘em in with curb appeal but plenty of parking and an under-designed logo for the business on a big sign. Or else, a “for lease” sign where a print shop or recording studio or lighting store used to be. Perhaps the most notable business to close recently along the Old Middlefield strip are Taqueria La Bamba and La Costena. In the case of these, a developer paid big bucks to the landowner, the Mountain View Voice covered the story here.
Nobody walks along Old Middlefield Way. Folks are in a car either getting off the freeway or taking a shortcut to Palo Alto or else going to see if the car wash at the corner of Independence is still for sale. It is.
This stretch of boulevard is not on anyone’s list of a place to take out-of-town guests, it’s left-over, almost downtrodden, but fascinating. I go there looking for the most empty place I can find and have found it. I sometimes like to drive behind supermarket loading docks just to see where the employees take their breaks, look for exotic wood pallets and catch a glimpse of the alleyway where loneliness dwells and weeds grow through cracks in pavement that needs repaving. All of Old Middlefield Way gives me this same feeling. Something was there that didn’t call out for attention, but the few and the faithful found it anyway. I guess it’s only a matter of time before another “affordable housing” development breaks ground here. The mauve-beige stucco of “anywhere USA” doesn’t age well, so keep an eye out for the “for lease” signs on the newly decrepit buildings around 2025.