Friday, May 07, 2010

Look! Hogtown is Hip!

Well what do you know about that?  Actually, Gainesville's always been a hip town, at least the downtown area -- I remember a few years back they tried to designate the UF campus area as "downtown" in an effort to marginalize the east side of town, but that kind of fell flat.

The thing that's really been exciting me of late is the area south of the St. Francis House, along South Main Street.  It was painful watching this part of town die a long, slow death from economic cancer, and now it's suddenly revitalized into this little Bohemia.  Okay, let me rephrase that -- a Local Yokel Paradise?  No, wait, still not right...Locavore District?  Gah, nevermind -- anyway, here are some pictures of how this four-block area has really come back from the dead.

Behind the old Hi-Fi Warehouse, on the corner of Depot Road and South Main Street, the Kickstand first started, almost three years ago.  They're still going strong, thank goodness, providing a place for people whose only mode of transpo is of the manual, two-wheeled kind, to get help with repairs and education on maintenance.  I've talked about them in a 2009 post and I am so glad to see that this completely grassroots organization is doing so well and helping so many fellow hogtownians. 

The great thing is that the Acrosstown Repertory Theater is just across the street to the east, another completely local, downtown happening that's been going strong for 20 years, in an area that's seen many economic changes, both good and bad.  As the neighborhood switches from a strange mix of industrial/residential to mostly service and residential, it's going to be fun to see how it all shakes out.  I used to live in this neighborhood so I am well aware of what it was like 10 years ago. 

Next to the Kickstand is what is to become The Warehouse Restaurant and Lounge (the only link I could find was to Adrienne Jensen's portfolio page for the proposed website that will be up and running soon.  I emailed Adrienne to get permission to use the link -- really, I should just have gotten a photo of it).  It's based in what used to be an old car parts store for imported cars; it will be very exciting to see what it develops into as a chic, urban restaurant.
Update 5.10.10:  Adrienne was nice enough to email me back with permission to use the link, but suggested just using the link, because the new website would be up and running in a couple of days.  Thanks for the tip, Adrienne!

Across from The Warehouse and a little to the north is a strip of businesses that has been struggling for a long time.  Now it houses The Civic Media Center (or, as a Hogtown Alumni once referred to it, "The Michael Stivic Reading Room" [oh, alright, here's a link for the youngs who aren't catching the drift of this joke]).  I am so glad the CMC is in a good spot for growth -- it was housed on University Avenue for a long time in a space that I am sure drove the local realtors mad with lust because of its proximity to campus.  Soon there will be so many reasons to hop on your bike and come down to this part of town!  Right next door to the CMC is the real reason for this post:  The Citizen's Co-op has finally gotten a storefront after almost 2 years of fundraising.  It is in a great location, and the co-op, CMC, and the South Main Arts Center (SMArts) have a nice-sized parking lot just across the street to the south.  If you live in Gainesville, you know that parking is always an issue for the faint of cycling heart. 

I haven't visited SMArts yet, but I remember it used to be a bike shop for a long, long time; I bought a beloved bike from the guy who used to run the shop, for 5 dollars -- and he was willing to give it to me for free but I forced the issue (I only had 5-dollars in my pocket at the time, otherwise I would have given him more).  What a nice guy -- I hope he's doing well.
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