The Granary District

Creating walkable, urban, human-centered neighborhoods in the Granary District.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

 

As I've said elsewhere, people have personalities and reputations — organizations and places have a brand. It's a funny word "brand", because it brings up images of owners putting their marks on the owned — and that's a really heavy handed image. Especially once someone realizes that organizations and places OUTLIVE their "owners". Places, especially, really resist the notion of branding. But language is imperfect, so we use words as best we can … and "branding" is the word we've got that best approximates what we we're up to.

 

So what are we up to?

 

Well, this area is an area with a lot of potential — a lot. But it's an area with a small resident population and several dozen businesses … and a whole passel of empty land. Which makes it ripe for outsiders to make sweeping changes to the fabric of the area — without much input from the people who live and work here. And why would they — the Granary District looks like a blank canvas. But it's not a blank canvas. It's really a neighborhood — even if folks haven't thought about it that way, before. It has a vibe and a history and something to offer in the way of diversity that the City really needs.

 

So how do we convince outsiders and the City that the "area" is really a "neighborhood"? We do it, in part, through branding. By labeling something that's a neighborhood, "neighborhood" — and by calling the residents "neighbors". By inviting businesses to be "local". We do it by showing up and saying "this is who we are and this is what we want". Neighborhoods seldom want to be something else … they really just want to be thriving versions of what they already are. 

 

So the branding effort is really part of a larger discussion about who we are and what we want — and an authentic brand will reflect the best of those two things. Moreover, a good branding discussion lays the groundwork for informed decisions about things as mundane as road repair and zoning — things that will shape the future of the neighborhood.

 

THE PROCESS

 

So we started with surveying as many people as we could — residents, business owners, visitors to the block party — and asked a few basic questions that got to the heart of what the Granary District is and what it might become:

 

What are the boundaries of the Granary District?

What are the Granary District's positive qualities?

What are the Granary District's negative qualities?

What are new qualities you'd like to see the Granary District develop?

 

We then held two focus groups that discussed the results of the surveys.

 

From all the surveys and the focus groups, we distilled a list of key concepts and we crafted a short narrative.

 

KEY CONCEPTS 

 

The key concepts below are a list of terms that folks thought best personified the positive aspects of the neighborhood and the qualities that they hoped the neighborhood would obtain:

 

The Granary District should remain: 

  • gritty
  • connected
  • diverse
  • proximity ( yeah, I know … it's not an adjective … )
  • bohemian
  • productive
  • local

 

Additionally, the Granary District should become:

  • walkable
  • bikable
  • green
  • "green"
  • vibrant

 

THE NARRATIVE

 

The narrative below aims to describe the neighborhood in a way that reflects the best view we have of ourselves and our future. Residents, local businesses, and our allies should read this and see themselves in what's written.


The Granary District is a diverse neighborhood with diverse neighbors. It's both out of the way and in the middle of it all. 600 South sits on its north side, West Temple its east, and I-15 is to its west and south. The City's lifeblood courses around and through — binding it together and setting it apart, all the while connecting it to Downtown and the gray and green patchwork of residential and commercial neighborhoods to its west and south. 

 

It's a hard-working neighborhood. It grew up around the railroad — light and heavy industry, warehouses and silos — but as the railroad moved west, many of the businesses moved with it. Today, the ones that stayed are thriving and rubbing elbows with artists, restauranteurs, entrepreneurs, and pioneering young families who've flocked to fill in the spaces. Of course … the buildings worked as hard as the people, and today the neighborhood is blessed with a heritage of warehouse and industrial spaces begging to be renewed and reborn — and to be put back to work. 

 

The Granary District has always been a productive place, and its brightest future is as a haven for makers — people with dirty hands, big ideas, and warm hearts. 

 

It's gritty, diverse, and grounded.

 

NEXT STEPS

 

First and foremost, we want to hear what you think — do the key concepts resonate with you? Can you see yourself in the narrative?

 

While we're collecting the last little bit of feedback, we'll be working feverishly to put these ideas into action — creating the sorts of tools that local businesses, neighbors, and the City can use to make these ideas a reality.

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I know it's not very productive to just chime in with "I like this," but I like this.  I think it reflects a lot of the presentation that was made to the RDA (Was it the RDA, or the council?  I don't remember) and I felt like it was resonating.

 

 

Hey, "I like this" is EVERY BIT AS VALID as any other feedback! So tell us you like it.

 

The most important thing for us, as we move forward, is to have a vision that resonates with folks.

 

Thanks, Bryan!

A word about "Bohemian".

The word doesn't hit the concept that I'm trying to convey perfectly … but I'm guessing no word will. A few folks in the focus groups used the term "artsy", but I wanted the concept to include both producers and consumers of art — and the vibe that relationship creates. Bohemian is as close as I got.

I thought bohemian is the word that resonated most with me.  That's how I want to feel in my space.  That's how I want the whole neighborhood to feel. 

 

Now all we need are a few parisian cafe's where I can sit in front of and drink wine and we'll be golden.

One very important way that this does NOT reflect the input we received is that it's been written only in English — when it should be in English and Spanish. Spanish is a very important part of this neighborhood's present and future, and having this discussion in English only means we risk missing out on key inputs.

 

If you know of a native Spanish speaker that is English/Spanish bilingual — especially one who lives in the District — please drop us a line.

The Granary District has always been a productive place, and its brightest future is as a haven for makers — people with dirty hands, big ideas, and warm hearts.

I just love that sentence; you guys nailed it. What a great blog post as well!

Makers Wanted-we've got the space if you've got the "talent"
"desire"
"muscle"
"grit"
....if you wanted a slogan or an ad campaign. I love that area-I don't live there or own property there, but I still love it. and if I had the money I'd invest it there.

You could play on The granary district having True Grit....

Like the movies...  Or a play on Hunter Thompson's line in Fear and Loathing about how it's only for those with True Grit, and we are chock full of that, man.

I feel like the key concepts are exactly what I'm looking for. 

One edit: I feel like you could integrate the last line into the one prior to it. I really felt like the last line interrupted the emotional connection you created for me in the second-to-last line.

I like the idea that young families are here in the midst of it all and would also love to see mention of the old timers who have been living here watching the "pioneers" move in. It's not just select businesses that stayed, residents too! Thanks for your work on this.
Good points, Rachel. Thank you for the input!
Hey Erik. I've been getting them and thought I could reply to the e-mail directly. Apparently I need to visit NING to reply to messages. Now that I've figured it out, I've replied.

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