STOCKTON (CBS13) – A revitalized building hopes to transform downtown Stockton.
In its heyday, Courthouse Plaza was known as the Smith and Lang Department Store. The site saw businesses come and go before sitting empty for years.
For Tony Yadon, 306 East Main Street began as a 'What if…' moment.
"I knew that we had to do something," Yadon said.
He is the executive director of Parents by Choice, founded in 2006. It is a foster care nonprofit working with families and youth, including those aging out of the system.
Its former office became cramped just ahead of a lease renewal. Two years ago, it settled on Courthouse Plaza.
"I mean, it was completely empty," Yadon said. "It was sad and dark."
Fast-forward, the building is a mix of office spaces, retail and cafés.
The coffee shop Plaza Perks is Yadon's personal favorite.
"The whole purpose of the coffee shop is to provide employment for youth, especially youth in foster care," he said.
Regulars love it.
"I come here because of the staff," said Mary Lou Diarenco, a customer. "They are accommodating to your needs."
The organization runs a gift shop where youth also work to gain life and occupational skills before transitioning into adulthood.
Amanda Huer is expanding her family antique business to the plaza. She is a big believer in second chances.
"We're very passionate about helping where we can," said the owner of Secondhand Rose, based out of Lodi.
The store will donate some of its proceeds to Parents by Choice while also employing kids.
Yadon said he never imagined having 100 percent occupancy in year two of owning the building after he purchased it.
For his five-year goal, he wants to open a sit-down restaurant featuring Americana food.
"You get people who encourage you and you get people who say, 'How are you going to pull that off?'"
He said he knew the building would benefit the nonprofit and its youth, but he was not prepared for the outpour of encouragement and support coming from the community.
A historic piece of Stockton could be the key to building the city's future.
Parents by choice says it found the building on Craigslist and paid almost $2 million for it.
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