‘A million stories’

Long after the construction season ended at dozens of housing developments around Mountain View, one private developer is pushing forward with a new duplex on Irwin Street.

The lot — which stood empty for years — belongs to Peruvian businessman Paul Santillana. His son, Gabriel Santillana, is helping develop the duplex project and plans on acquiring the property once construction is complete.

“I’ve lived here since I was a baby,” said Santillana, who grew up in a home on the same Irwin Street lot. “I have a million stories about this place.”

He remembers school at Mountain View Elementary; riding around the neighborhood on the handlebars of his neighbor’s bike; his first fight with the kids who lived in an apartment around the corner, the kids who later became some of his closest childhood friends.

When he was still young, his family moved back to Peru and he saw what poverty can be like. As an adult, home in Alaska, he went to work on the North Slope and put his savings into mobile homes in Anchorage. He says he wants to build something for himself. The duplex on Irwin Street is just one of the steps.

But he’s not sure if he wants to live here again. He thinks there’s something wrong in Mountain View; he says the decorative metal frames that block the ends of several neighborhood streets feel like the bars in a jail cell. And he has a 6-month-old son now.

” I don’t want him to be in this area,” Santillana said. “There’s so much negativity.”

He feels it in the way people talk and the way people treat the neighborhood. And at the end of the day, he says, it seems like one big self-fulfilling prophecy.

“A lot of people, when they’re surrounded by all this negative stuff … you are what you’re surrounded by,” he said.

Irwin Duplex.JPG

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2 replies »

  1. Say it ain’t so!! Unfortunately, Mr. Santillana is right; poverty is a state of mind. Being broke is a financial reality, living in poverty is the results of owns attitudes and actions. Be part of the solution.


  2. Mr. Santillana, I am pleased that you’re investing in Mt. View. Someone will be lucky to move into a new home. What this neighborhood does not need, is negative press.. I’m sorry that you feel like you’re in jail cell when you’re visiting. But there are reasons why some of the roads are blocked. My Husband and I were on a committee of many, that helped make this neighborhood safer, and limited entrances and exits were part of the plan. I really don’t see any difference between a “gated community” and what was done here. We have problems here, that’s for sure, but so does every part of this city. A large part of the problem here, are absent Landlords. That breeds problem tenants in rundown properties with “I don’t give a crap attitudes”, overflowing dumpsters and many unsupervised children. All these things can and do cast off negative vibes. But there are MANY people here, who do care, and who are trying to make a difference. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 40 years, not because I “have to” but because I “want to”. When something isn’t right, like dead cars, overflowing dumpsters, suspicious activity, I call the appropriate agencies to get the problem fixed. If it still isn’t fixed, I go higher until it is. If more people did this all over this town, it would make a huge impact.. I wish you well, Sir.


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