01 Feb Downtown Perspective
We are moving! After operating out of our upstairs location at 1108 Garden Street for over three decades, our association has outgrown our space. I am excited to announce that we will be moving to 1135 Chorro Street later this year. We have a long way to go in completing the actual move but are optimistic that the process will be worth the wait. Currently, our building permits are being reviewed, and our contractors are gearing up to make sure the lights turn on and that the existing air conditioner and heater will keep our staff and guests comfortable in the future headquarters for all things Downtown SLO.
If you haven’t already pulled out your smart phone and Googled the address or racked your brain to recall what was in the space previously, I will tell you: San Luis Luggage and Variety was, and with the former shop keeper’s (Bob Douglass) track record of success, we are counting on a lot of great energy. (And maybe even some popcorn to carry on the legacy of Mr. Douglass’ popcorn machine!) You will see that the front of the shop will look the same, but inside we will have a retail space to greet guests as well as a view right into our conference room. Both of these assets are exciting to me for two reasons.
First, we are planning for our retail space to feature locally produced items from independent makers: businesses that may not be ready to open their own shop but would like to test the market. Compiling a group of local independent makers in one beautifully curated space is an opportunity for Downtown SLO to help budding entrepreneurs grow into thriving community businesses. Second, the conference room we have now does not fit our entire Board of Directors or Committee members at the table; the new conference room will feature a table that accommodates all of our Board members. What a novel concept! The space will be available for important community meetings as well. Smaller, more intimate meetings will be hosted in the conference room; larger trainings and workshops will be able to utilize what we are calling the training area. I know, how original!
As we move closer to completing this goal, our Board is guiding some really innovative ways to better utilize the space and be even more accessible to our membership, community, and guests. With a street level space, our office will be ADA accessible, whereas our current office, due to a large flight of stairs, is not. The Board is also looking forward to expanding our educational series for the community with future workshops hosted in our own location. While we have enjoyed spaces generously provided by the City of San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Hot House, and San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, we look forward to hosting our own events and welcoming other groups to use our space as well. Who knows, maybe we will even get involved with Art After Dark.
Despite all of the amazing benefits, I have also been wrestling with the idea of the move. Moving in and of itself is a daunting task, let alone doubling the size of our office, adding additional programming, and the obvious costs associated with relocating. I finally came to terms with this move over my holiday vacation driving up to Southern Oregon when I had a shift in perspective. This move is not about whether this move serves me. Rather, this move is all about serving the community and our Downtown SLO businesses, being more present in our Downtown, and having a space that our staff and committee members are excited about working in. I have talked with some of my peers from other cities about this move; many of them expressed concern about greater public access getting in the way of work, hindering our daily operations. On the contrary, I think that we should be equally as accessible in person as we are by phone or email. In fact, I would much rather meet people face to face to share ideas or concerns.
Downtowners, be sure to look for the signs going up and construction work taking place in our future home, and keep your eyes peeled for the opening day of our new location. We have made many great memories on Garden Street; we absolutely love our neighbors, and have thoroughly enjoyed the view from our Special Events office. But, it is time for new scenery, more great neighbors, fresh memories to be made, and, at long last, a seat at the table for everyone. I look forward to shaking your hand at the future headquarters of Downtown SLO this summer.