[Creativity has a home at the Goat Farm; image via Facebook.]
A couple of recent stories published on the local and national level seem to share a common thread: the "new normal" is bringing out some killer creativity in cities all over the country. Will Doig over at Salon examines the phenomenon of tactical urbanism, whereby municipalities are embracing the DIY city planning associated with guerrilla urbanism. While the goal is always to create something of permanence, the low-cost, low commitment nature of these small scale interventions (pocket parks, pop-up playgrounds, roll-up crosswalks) means that if the experiment fails, there's less financial heartache. Doig sees this kind of top-down, bottom-up collaboration as the future of city revitalization; it's on the opposite end of the spectrum from the mega-projects of decades past - you know, like stadiums.
Closer to home, Catherine Fox's piece examining the Goat Farm is follows on our look at the Westside's great cultural incubator/real estate development success story. While the Westside Urban Market (Bacchanalia, Room & Board, Jonathan Adler) has done wonders to breathe life into this stretch of Howell Mill Road, the Goat Farm, which sits directly behind it, has been infusing the industrial district with bohemian energy since the late 1970's. It wasn't until 2008 when the 1889 factory complex was purchased by developers Anthony Harper (a former NYC investment banker) and Chris Melhouse that the Farm really became the powehouse it is now. While they initially planned a more orthodox mixed use development, the economic downturn forced them to rethink their strategy.
The business partners offered free space to arts-related organizations like gloATL in order to bring buzz and attention to the property - the mantra became real estate funds art, art funds real estate. Now, there's a waiting list 225 deep for the 25 loft apartments, as well as an average of 80 requests a week for its spaces, in addition to the 365 artists that regularly create on the property. Not bad for a marketing investment of only $200,000 over the past few years. In the words of Harper, "Conventional real estate practice seems so bland now." Did someone say zeitgeist?
· Stop thinking big(Salon.com)
· Goat Farm, a former cotton gin factory, nurtures the arts, human spirit ? and makes money too(ArtsAtl.com)