Santa Ana revitalizes downtown after fatal fight

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly a year after a notorious fatal fight outside a Santa Ana nightclub, the city is bouncing back, boosting safety and revitalizing the downtown area.

Last week, two women were sentenced to six years in prison for the beating death of Kim Pham in a fight last January outside The Crosby, a popular nightspot in Santa Ana.

Since the tragedy, Santa Ana has seen changes, like a greater police presence downtown.

"We've also made an effort to increase lighting, working on a new downtown camera system," said Ryan Chase, president of Downtown Inc.

The Crosby has since closed. Six months ago it re-opened as The North Left, drawing a different clientele.

"The previous connotations of The Crosby was more of a nightlife spot. For us we focus more on food," said Andy Markuson, general manager of The North Left.

The city also hired a downtown development liaison. Leigh Eisen was chosen for her know-how from New York's Garment District to help with the city's revitalization.

"This is the only urban historic downtown in Orange County," said Eisen. "This is a very walkable, attractive place to be, with a robust nightlife."

Officials say more than 50 businesses have opened in the past year, and several dozen more are expected to open next year.

The Fourth Street Market is expected to open in January. It's being called a culinary hub and will include food vendors, rental kitchens, a wine bar and beer garden.

"It's gone better as far as the restaurants, but worse in other ways -- a lot more riff-raff, homeless people," said Santa Ana resident David Swanson.

City officials say change takes time, and they stress that while the number of visitors has increased, the latest figures show crime has dropped by double digits.

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