I am what you might call a frustrated entrepreneur. I do a lot of thinking and I have a lot of business ideas, just not the money to act out on them. Its not that I am all that interested in money, I like money and what it can provide as much as the next man, but it is way down on my list of priorities of what's important in life. My business ideas tend to be more inspired by the spirit of potential, rather than monitory gain for myself. I see things that are being underused or undervalued and sometimes I just want to give it new life.
When I first came to Salt Lake I was surprised at how empty the Downtown area was. There was hardly any shops in the center of the city of any note, and you didn't see too many people walking around it was unlike any city center that I had seen before. It has since been improved by the LDS Church's investment in the up market City Creek shopping mall that opened this year, but for years Salt Lake City had nothing to entice people away from shopping at the malls in the suburbs, other than a few restaurants here and there. That lack of focus on the downtown area by the city planners meant a lot of business just shut up and closed leaving empty buildings in their wake.
Seeing buildings like that just makes my mind work overtime. I see potential instantly. However I also see reality. Getting something to survive in such an environment when others have failed before them is a hard task. Yet my mind will just continue to tick tick tick like a Mumford and Sons song beat until it comes up with something that could bring new life to that building or area of town. It is frustating as hell because I don't have the money to make any of these ideas work. I hate it, sometimes I wish my mind would just shut up and leave me the hell alone. In another life I would be like one of those crazy homeless people you sometimes see, talking to myself and in the same breath telling myself to 'shut the hell up', all whilst falling over my shopping trolley probably. Thankfully I am not quite that bad, yet, but my mind frustrates nonetheless.
That said I really do have an idea right now that I really would like to make work. There is a building near downtown that has been lying empty for what looks like at least 15 years, probably more, but in truth I have no idea I've only been here 3 and half years myself. For all intensive purposes its pretty soulless building that in its current state really brings the area around it down. Its just a large empty unit with broken windows that looks like it at one point had an industrial purpose that has long since moved on and the building itself has now lost its purpose. Obviously noone has seen much in it since, not when there is newer more modern alternatives elsewhere.
Yet when I look through those broken windows I don't just see bricks walls, metal rafters in the roof and a huge empty concrete floor. I see people. I see the people that once used that building. I'm like the little boy in The Sixth Sense - I see dead people.Yes the wife really should be worried that I might just be that close to cuckoo land.
Seriously though I'm European in my outlook. I see the ghostly remnants of a buildings past use and it makes me sad when I see a building empty like that and that area of town becoming run down. I don't want to see that building demolished by the city to be replaced by another and then 40/50 years later that replacement building suffering the same fate. This building isn't exactly an architectural masterpiece that needs to be saved but it is here now, it could be reused now that gives something back to its city and neighbours.
Salt Lake City isn't what I would call a big city. It has a little more than a third of the population of Glasgow, and yet it is the biggest city in Utah, and is probably bigger than any city in Idaho or Wyoming, its neighboring States. So with that in mind I think it should have a big city mentality. It should have a downtown area that draws people in from those states.
I see something in that small empty industrial unit that could help give SLC a little kick in that regard. People are getting interested in food like they haven't done for decades. With the internet, foodies have evolved. People want good food. Some want to know where there food is coming from. Many want to know its local. Others want specialised food, or just want to try new things. That empty unit with its large concrete floor could be a market for meat, fruit or veg or fish traders, or a mixture of all three if health and safety allowed. It could predominantly be for local businesses but also bring in a few specialised traders from the neighbouring States to fill up the space. It could be a place where the small spread out SLC Jewish population finds its Kosher food. Where I could find good quality lamb or Bacon. Where South Americans could find producers thats are willing to cater for the demand of specialised cuts of meat. A one stop shop for all the restaurants of the city to visit in the early morning before cooking in the evening.
Whilst it will mostly be for local people to use, it would also help the city to get a reputation as a place to find good food, which could over time help the city grow its reputation in travel and food magazines as well as the blogosphere. That in itself could only help to revive downtown further with time.
A building used for that purpose shouldn't need too much in the way of investment, and it probably won't make my family rich from rental space on the floor to small traders but I can't help thinking that it would make life in downtown that bit more lively and richer as a result.
Now how to get this rolling......Eh!