In 2013, Salt Lake City's Granary Row at 300 West and 700 South used the area’s wide streets for weekend concerts and beer gardens, and used converted shipping containers as storefronts for up-and-coming local businesses. This year would have marked the second season of the popular row, but organizers say the city's overly burdensome rules and regulations have forced them to cancel the seasonal event.---
“In the end there were too many obstacles to overcome, and the changes we would have to make would have made it into something other than Granary Row,” says Christian Harrison, one of the founders of the nonprofit Kentlands Initiative, which organizes activities in the Granary District.
The row's first summer season kicked off in 2013 with small shipping-container businesses, several of which have used the success they had on the row to move on to permanent locations, such as Diabolical Records, which has now landed at 238 S. Edison St. Organizers were planning on showcasing new small-business efforts for this year's row, including Spice Kitchen—a nonprofit that helps refugees get on their feet by learning how to turn their native cooking skills into a business—a boutique with women's and men's bags, and an as-you-wait bike repair shop. The row also looked to add a storefront for the Utah Humane Society and The Bookstore, a collaboration of three local book vendors.
City Weekly recently wrote about the challenges Granary Row faced with working with the city to allow it's “pop-up” seasonal business idea. Harrison says that some of these obstacles have now forced the row to cancel for the season. The challenges centered around city rules that require temporary businesses on the row to jump through the same hoops as permanent brick & mortar businesses.
“The biggest thing is that we were being treated like a permanent installation and that's not what we are,” Harrison says, citing requirements that sprinklers be installed in the shipping containers and that the temporary storefronts be required to make costly improvements to the land around them. “Those things just made it impossible for us to move forward.”
Harrison says that there was a miscommunication and that he and other Granary Row founders were under the impression in late 2013 that they would be able to proceed with another year of the successful seasonal market that helped out not only small, local businesses but also the improvement of a once-blighted and neglected area of the city.
Salt Lake City Mayor's Office spokesman Art Raymond says that the city has been a big supporter of the event and that planners were dismayed to hear the 2014 event had been canceled. Raymond points out that the city's redevelopment agency supported the project with a $150,000 grant in 2013 and that many city staff who visited the row were very excited about the project.
Raymond says it's still unclear what specific issues led to organizer's to cancel the event but does point out that public-safety standards can't be relaxed.
"The one thing we can't relent on is our obligation to ensure public safety," Raymond says. "There's no wiggle room there for obvious reasons."*
Harrison remains optimistic that the problems will get worked out so that the Granary Row will be able to return in the early summer of 2015. “We're regrouping, moving forward, and we're excited about what's on our plate,” Harrison says.
*This information was an update from a previous version of this story