The Funk Zone: Santa Barbara's New Downtown
How do we define a "Downtown" area? Is it where city hall is located? Is it where the biggest parking structures are? Is it the area with the most conveniences?
If you look at a Google map of Santa Barbara, you will find the word "Downtown" overlaid on the 1100 block of State Street. This area is home to the Museum of Art, the Public Library, and a bevy of restaurants and shops. This is one definition of Downtown Santa Barbara.
If you look at any real estate listing even remotely near this area, it will inevitably read "In the HEART of Downtown!!!". That's another definition.
If you ask me, Downtown should be a focal point of energy, the center of our local universe, the destination. Which is why we need to start acknowledging the Funk Zone as Santa Barbara's new Downtown.
There is an increasing gravity to the Funk Zone that is attracting businesses and consumers alike.
It used to be that State Street was the end-all-be-all for shopping, dining, and socializing. However, after years of rehabilitation and development, the Funk Zone has taken a big chunk of business away from State Street. People are drawn to the eclectic vibe of the area, as well as it's walkability.
Businesses are housed in structures ranging from old airplane hangars to converted warehouses to brand new contemporary masterpieces. The trendy rustic industrial (read: steel, concrete, reclaimed wood) aesthetic of many of the Funk Zone properties juxtaposed against the Pacific Ocean makes for a winning combination.
Here are some crown jewels of the Funk Zone:
The flagship for breweries is Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, which creates more than a dozen varieties of beer and has ample outdoor space for customers to enjoy.
If you prefer wine, the Urban Wine Trail is your guide to the numerous wine tasting options scattered about the Funk Zone.
Local tech giant Sonos has a multi-building campus that is spread throughout lower State Street and the Funk Zone.
MOXI The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation is due to open later this year, and will provide an interactive experience aimed at promoting science and fostering creativity.
There's no getting around it: the Funk Zone is Santa Barbara's new Downtown. For all the development that has happened there in the past decade, even more creations are on the horizon that will serve to further entrench the Funk Zone as the epicenter of our town.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below....