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Festival to help rejuvenate Salt Lake’s Granary District

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People in the Granary District want more community space, more places to gather, and they want to support the existing community. – Christian Harrison

SALT LAKE CITY — Passersby on 700 South between 300 and 400 West may be raising their eyebrows at the large shipping containers now lining the middle of the street.

The containers have been placed in preparation for the “pop-up” festival starting June 15 called Granary Row, an event meant to rejuvenate a declining residential and business culture within the Granary District.

Once the festival begins, local foodies, artisans and entrepreneurs are expected to set up shop within the shipping containers.

“People in the Granary District want more community space, more places to gather, and they want to support the existing community,” said Christian Harrison, director of Kentlands Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping neighborhoods become consistent with the ideals of their members.

“Granary Row is a way to do that,” he said.

The Granary District is situated between 600 South on the north, West Temple on the east, and I-15 is to the west and south. It was developed around a railroad, once rich with light and heavy industries, warehouses and silos.

However, as a result of changing times, the neighborhood now has buildings and space ready to be filled. Granary Row began as a project to save the Granary District from a slow state of decay.

“No neighborhood wants to become something else,” Harrison said. “The fact of the matter is that Granary District has people who live and play there. It’s a loved area, but it’s been an area in slow decline ever since the freeways were put in. As the railroads moved west, so did some of the businesses. So the city, developers and other folks have been talking over the last several years about how we can shine it up.”

Granary Row was made into reality through Kentlands Initiative guidance, community involvement, Salt Lake City Council assistance and Redevelopment Agency donations.

Residents will be able to walk up and down Granary Row every Thursday and Friday nights and Saturdays up until the weekend just prior to Thanksgiving to enjoy the local food, shops and entertainment. People can also enjoy a “bier garten” (beer garden), live Kilby Court concerts, and community entertainment on a stage crafted with upright shipping containers.

James Alfandre, Kentlands Initiative executive director, said placing Granary Row in the middle of the wide street demonstrates how the neighborhood’s underutilized resources can be reclaimed for “human-centered growth and activity.”

“There’s an untapped wealth of opportunity in the roadway,” Harrison said. “Everything old is new again. Here we are developing the center of the road in a way that serves the community it’s in and also for the future."

Granary Row is meant to reflect what businesses and residents of the Granary District desire from their community, which is described by its mission statement as being productive, gritty, diverse and grounded, he said. Using materials such as the shipping containers also relates to the neighborhood’s industrial history and its passion to be resource-wise.

“Cities are most vibrant when there are a variety of choices,” Harrison said.

Alfandre said Granary Row will ideally prove the potential of the Granary District to incoming business and residents.

“We hope to create affordable creative space for entrepreneurs to test their ideas or products in,” he said. “Then hopefully they become successful and we can point them to vacant space in the neighborhood for them to grow.”

Harrison said entrepreneurs will be able to rent retail space for $250 a month, and other spaces like farmers market tents for $50 a weekend. Contact information and other details are available on Granary Row’s Facebook page and the Granary District’s website.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com