Creative Business Spaces

Where do creative businesses start up in our global cities?  Again, one of my favourite mags, Monocle brings me up-to-date via their Small Business Guide 2010/11. Partly due to increasing costs of real estate in our city centres and partly because it is more fun to venture into new territories, creative businesses often find start-up spaces on the edge.

Monocle provides us with 5 global examples.  I am interested in the first one — the Kodbyen district in Copenhagen (because I am going there in May/June).  The Kodbyen used to be the meat-packing district — kodbyen literally means “meat city”.   The neighbourhood in its transition didn’t attract housing development but instead has attracted restaurants, clubs, galleries, studios and small businesses.  The good news is that there are still some of the original trades doing business in this neighbourhood and living in relative harmony with the newcomers.

The second example is Central Eastside Industrial District in Portland.  “Other spaces would have been better for pure retail.,” says Matt Milletto, owner of an espresso bar. “But this facility allows for factory-style roasting and wholesale shipping.  This has been an industrial stronghold for decades, and we’re building on that.”

The third example is the Yanaka neighbourhood in Tokyo.  This is an old neighbourhood where a number of creative businesses are setting up shop.

SIDEBAR: what I love about Monocle.  I am reading the section on the Yanaka neighbourhood and notice a little note at the bottom of the page that reads:

Northern Star:  The Canadian province of Saskatchewan may not feature highly on lists of global business hubs, but it’s a great place for the little guy.  In a survey, 79 % of small-business owenrs were happy with government support of their entrepreneurial efforts.

A gem.

Back to the neighbourhoods — the last two examples are the Barracas in Buenos Aires and Freemans Bay in Auckland.  Wish I could visit them all.

But it is a good lesson in the relationship between city, neighbourhood and businesses.  As Vancouver develops its economic strategy with one of the focuses on green business it is interesting to think about where these types of creative start-ups can grow and prosper.  Back in the 80s when I was in the School of Architecture we did a lot of work on the False Creek Flats as an exciting chunk of the City to evolve in an incremental way.  Am hoping that we will see some smaller neighbourhoods emerge within the Flats and elsewhere as the new homes for our creative industries now that Yaletown and Gastown have, in a sense, grown up.

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