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emerging.me

Funky Neighborhood

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As you guys may already know, I think Richard Florida's sometimes controversial book "The Rise of the Creative Class" points to a place that Columbia needs to go to continue its urban renewal trend. In his book, Florida says that growing, healthy cities must be places where artists, writers, entertainers, scientists, engineers and other creative professionals feel at home. Part of this is achieved by a creating a sense of "authentic place" and having areas that are "funky," "bohemian" or whatever you want to call it. I'm a creative and just naturally drawn to these kind of areas, so I'll buy his theory without too much critical thought, but for the sake of this thread let's just say he's right.

The Columbia area doesn't really have a neighborhood that is consistently funky. There are funky places (Art Bar, New Brookland Tavern, etc.), but they're not part of a bohemian community. There are some emerging creative residential areas, but they could still go either way -- there's nothing consistent like NoDa in Charlotte or any of the residential neighborhoods in South Central Austin. Possibilities include Olympia, West Columbia/Cayce around Meeting & State St., Granby Village, Waverly, etc. The Vista, pre-gentrification, was once this type of place but most creative types were quickly priced out when renewal caught on.

So, if you haven't gotten it yet... what I'm saying is that we need a neighborhood in Columbia that is consistently funky. And what I'm asking is... what area do you think has the greatest potential for this and why? And, if you care to speculate, what would have to happen to make a single area most attractive to creatives and become *the* area.

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When I think "bohemian" I always think of Asheville. Its got a pretty good mix of everything. So I always try in invision what could replicate that. I don't have any experience that I know of with other bohemian areas. Do you have some images that could give an idea of what you would like to see?

The Meeting & State area will become an extension of the Vista sooner or later. Its view of the city and proximity to the river are far too valuable to go unnoticed for much longer. It will be priced out as soon as it is. I wish I owned some property around that area.

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Good point. I'll see if I can dig up some pics. If anyone has ones they think are relevant, feel free to post.

I think I've decided that the reason we don't have a funky neighborhood is because we don't have any place with a cool abbreviated name. Charlotte has NoDa (North Davidson) as their answer to New York's SoHo... so I'm officially renaming West Columbia, WeCo. You heard it here first. :)

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Its been several years since I spent some time in Columbia. I thought that Caycee was turning into one of these kind of neighborhoods. Did something change?

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Its been several years since I spent some time in Columbia.  I thought that Caycee was turning into one of these kind of neighborhoods. Did something change?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

A number of places, including Cayce, have this potential, but I don't get the feeling that any of them are really progressing in that direction more than the others -- it's all very scattered and unfocused. I think West Columbia is better positioned to be this kind of area than Cayce. Cayce, I think, will become more like Shandon -- except for maybe the area down by the railroad headquarters, which could actually become kind of funky.

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Hmm, so let's see...where are the creative people that would catalyze this area? Well, there is a lot of creativity near the university (5pts, Olympia), mid career creative types in the Vista, and enclaves in Vista West and even Cottontown.

So what do these people need? Well, they need space to live and work. Many will need this space to come cheap. They need places to show off what they have done, be it music, art, architecture, technology and the like. So an inventory of residential, commercial and even light industrial areas should be available.

With these things in mind, I could make a case for Eau Claire (around N. Main) to continue to define itself as such a place. You have a main throughfare in N. Main St., where the commercial outlets could go. You have lots of warehouse space that could be adapted or reused, and you have a pretty wide ranging housing stock. It's affordable by and large as well. Crime and blight are problems, but these factors always seem to precede a city's 'artsy' district.

I think the city officials realize that the arts are an important piece of the puzzle for a midsize city to establish itself and become more of a player. Officials would (and some already have) get behind Eau Claire and the revitalization of N. Main.

Oh, the issue I see with W. Cola is that its outside of the city and county and may not recieve support from people that want the arts to stay within Columbia proper. An enclave there will have to continue to develop on its own.

Thoughts?

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I think several neighborhoods around USC and in the proximity of DT have the potential. The one thing that may hender it initially is as these places become more popular the price will go up. so now only the "stuffed shirts" can afford to live there. As Columbia's creative class grows then I think these neighborhoods will be more accesible to the bohemian/new urbanism movement because these individuals will have the funds to live there and incorporate that laid back bohemian attitude. I could see West Cola, definately but I'd be surprised if the entire riverfront area isn't too expensive in the next 5 years or so. Also I think Eau Claire would be a good candidate it was recognized nationally for its revitalization efforts a few years back. Olympia can do it because it already has the college population but it has quite some shady characters there as well, I think it would still have a decade or two to go. I'm really interested to see how that new development at the old farmers market will pan out. That seems to be the type of thing that would attract the bohemian type (mixed use village type of atmosphere and affordable housing). When the campus gets up and running there is really no telling it itself could become a "cool neighborhood since it will harbour mixed use (condos, shops, offices, etc.) Just my thoughts.

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The Vista still does have alot of Artist's lofts, etc. There is the building that the Blue Martini is in, Lewis and Clark, Fulton Design, One Eared Cow Glass, etc. It would be nice to see them concentrated next to each other, but there is alot of funkiness left in the Vista.

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So, if you haven't gotten it yet... what I'm saying is that we need a neighborhood in Columbia that is consistently funky.  And what I'm asking is... what area do you think has the greatest potential for this and why?  And, if you care to speculate, what would have to happen to make a single area most attractive to creatives and become *the* area.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think Olympia has the best chance. It is an old, in-town neighborhood, with an interesting and ample housing stock, it already has a real sense of community and history, its close enough to several pockets of commercial development to make it a viable walkable neighborhood, and it is grungy enough to not appeal to the types of folks that will want to buy a house in the new, ill-conceived, gated development on the W. Cola side of the river.

I'm lifelong friends with a woman who is from one of the big Olympia families, and they still own houses in the neighborhood and still head back there for major family occasions.

The only downside to Olympia is that it runs a slight risk of being overrun by students from USC, but don't think this will happen any time soon.

The Vista West area has many similarities to Olympia, but is much smaller, and, as others point out, its proximity to the river bodes poorly for it remaining the location of funky, affordable housing.

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I think Olympia is a possibility. After all, the GROW Cafe was in Olympia, the center of counter culture in Columbia in the 60's, 70's and 80's. We need another hippie era to come about. :)

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I think Olympia is a possibility. After all, the GROW Cafe was in Olympia, the center of counter culture in Columbia in the 60's, 70's and 80's. We need another hippie era to come about. :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ha! Agreed. :)

I have to cast my vote for Olympia also. At least, that's what I'd like to see the area transition into. It'll be interesting to see what happens once the mill renovation is complete and once the new shops that are planned open. Maybe Gallery 701 will get fixed. A lot of the exisiting dwellings have some potential for funkiness if they were fixed up. I'd move there if it looked like it was headed that way. I wonder what would be needed to set that kind of a direction for the area.

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If Olympia was fully in the city limits it would help a great deal. That would need to be followed up with the city spending some money in the area and then designating it an arts district. I think the city probably prefers the Vista to be that area, but of course, starving artists can no longer afford to be located in the Vista.

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The only downside to Olympia is that it runs a slight risk of being overrun by students from USC, but don't think this will happen any time soon.

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Do you, or does anyone else, think that the expansion of the Research Campus towards the river will have any long-term ramifications in Olympia?

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Do you, or does anyone else, think that the expansion of the Research Campus towards the river will have any long-term ramifications in Olympia?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Until Olympia becomes part of the city it won't take off. The mill renovation may help, but it really needs to be annexed. I can't really blame the city for not annexing Olympia, though. It would definitely not be a cost effective addition to the city limits, but I think it should be done anyway.

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I concur that Olympia is well on it's way to becoming a 'bohemian' neighborhood - it's got a variety of things going in it's favor: cheap housing, attractive urban environment, lots of college students - professors - & people who just don't want to give up on college life. The neighborhood blends into the campus & downtown too - what I like about that neighborhood is that it reminds me of my neighborhood in Atlanta (at least the housing stock), Cabbagetown which is an ex-mill village near downtown.

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